When can I tip my pots up?

gogirlterri(5 IL)March 11, 2013

Yesterday I saw one of my pots had pips emerging. We also had over an inch or rain and the temp was 54 oF, The W.C. 8 day forcast showed near normal conditions of 45 oF in daytime and 27 oF at night. That would bring us to March 19th.

My pots are laying on their sides and semi-sheltered. Is it OK to upright them now and move them out to where they will get moisture? Even if it goes down below 27 at night, with dt temperatures well above freezing I hardly thing the pots would freeze hard like Ken warns against.

Though I've done much propagating garden plants from all sorts of cuttings, layering, air-layering, seeds and so on they were always either indoors or in warmer weather. This is my first experience with intentionally leaving potted hostas outdoors. I have eleven..

Mercy! What am I to do?


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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5


cold damp/WET medium.. is not kind to hosta... especially once they wake up ... it can lead to root rots ...

i am sure the media is moist.. is there anywhere you could stash them.. upright.. but forestall too much wet??? .. but keep them cold???? .. i would fear a garage.. taking them up a zone or two ...

maybe under a large low hanging evergreen.. conifer???

i could place mine.. under an eave.. on the north side of the house... where they would stay dormant for a long time.. but be out of sun.. and stay really cold..

it is of no use.. to get them going too early ... and if you can slow them down.. all the better ...


    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 8:49AM
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gogirlterri(5 IL)

Thanks Ken. I have a makeshift cold-frame that doesn't get a lot of mid-day sun. I can place some dark plastic over the glass My instincts are that they are too dry but you are saying that is better than moist-I think..
My combost bin has been frozen all winter and I've juist taken off the black cover I had on it to help the sun warm it. I have, in my tiny garden beds, crocus, daffodil, surprise lily, and horseradish breaking ground. Usually by this time the crocus has already been in bloom in snow. Our weather the past couple of years has me hog-tied. I must have lived in Arkansas too long!
So you are telling me to be patient-for 3-4 weeks?

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 7:25PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

in my z5.. 6 to 8 weeks..

a cold frame is exactly what i said not to do.. taking them up a zone or two ...

i have lived thru spring fever for a long time.. there is no real advantage to 'forcing' them early ... for sure.. one night.. you will forget to protect them.. and you will pay the price ... been there.. done that.. repeatedly ..

figure out how to prolong dormancy.. and you will be very happy ...


    Bookmark   March 12, 2013 at 7:04AM
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gogirlterri(5 IL)

Thanks Ken

    Bookmark   March 12, 2013 at 7:57AM
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I would leave them tipped over for a while longer. You don't want them to freeze again after wet rains, so night temps below freezing are bad. Right now is the time when hostas in pots rot the easiest. They won't need water until you have leaves. The pips mean they are healthy and have survived the winter, so don't tip them back up and kill them now.

Mine won't be tipped back up for at least another month, maybe longer.

Good luck.


    Bookmark   March 12, 2013 at 4:18PM
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Ludi _PA_7a

Just throwing my twenty eight cents and a couple pictures into the pot (see what I did there).

I broke the rules and tipped mine upright over this past weekend when we had our first 60 degree day on Saturday.

The ground has been thawed for about three weeks now. The daffodils are 4-5 inches out of the ground with buds, crocus in full bloom, snow drops are done and the hellebore are beginning to open up.

With all this activity I got nervous the hostas might pop early again this year. So I did my research and looked to see what the average temps would be and sure enough we are into the 40-50 highs with 33-35 lows. So I figured better to tip them all and get them cleaned up and ready for spring because it never fails that someone will show their pips too soon for their own good.

Sure enough, two of my three Andrew and Sea Gulf Stream had pips beginning to emerge from the soil.

So . . . I removed all of last years leaves I used as insulation to make sure that there was nothing obstructing their drainage and put a fresh coat of pine mulch over them to hopefully keep them asleep for a while longer. When they break my mulch barrier I will know there's no turning back and will have to begin covering them until April.

Like the gentlemen have advised, it is best to wait until your hard freezes are done. My zone 7a is fickle in March and everything always has a tendency to think it's spring and shoot 4 inches out of the ground only to get some weird single day snow cover the last week in March (never fails). So I figure this way I am prepared to cover what does decide to show up early. We will also be getting a lot of rain this month but since I know the pots won't freeze and the drainage is good I have nothing to worry about.

So here I was Feb 4th, little over a month ago during our two weeks of 20F. Brrrrr.

And today March 12th with everyone ready to go. :) The green in the one pot in the middle is a tough-as-nails Pulmonaria that never really went dormant and has started putting out new growth already.

AND THE FIRST ROSE OF SPRING !!!! Well . . . not a rose, but cute.


    Bookmark   March 12, 2013 at 8:14PM
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Ludi, love reading your garden topics, and thanks for the photo recap of your preparations. Quite thorough.

In fact, with your comments added to those of Ken, I'm thinking I better pay close attention to the real temps in our area. I know we have a "cool spell" around Easter, but recall no problem with the hosta already awake and growing away. Even the sensitive plantaginea did not get nipped.

However, I did tip up today, Friday March 15, the burgeoning buds of a great many hosta. Now I'll pause ......(how was it Jack Nicholson would say it in his movie, ."....take a little Spanish pause.".)......before I go tippy toe-ing through der hosta again.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 11:38PM
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