planters in the winter

jclepine(8b)September 1, 2008

Hi all.

I am thinking of planting the two empty wooden planter boxes for my friends/neighbors. It is my tiny gesture after they had a personal loss.

My question is, am I just setting the flowers up to die if I put perennials in a planter? I'm only going to put things in there that will survive the winter up here but if they are in a narrow planter--two feet high, three feet long and one foot wide--will they still survive the winter up here in Ned?

I was thinking either perennials or some small roses, but I'd hate for them not to come back next year.

Any tips would be greatly appreciated!

Thank you,


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david52 Zone 6

The problem is they dry out. And even though I know that I always manage to forget to water the ones outdoors. Snow makes little or no difference- I found out this last winter when my blueberries gave up the ghost. They have to be kept at least a little bit moist.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2008 at 9:32PM
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Thanks, David!

They never water anything, so I should take that into consideration.

Although I might be willing to help them water, I will probably forget from time to time...enough time to let them dry to death :(


    Bookmark   September 1, 2008 at 10:13PM
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I'm a "big" container gardener & hang out on that forum a lot. The problem with overwintering pots is being above ground they thaw and refreeze repeatidly, which kills the plants. limits, they will NOT tolerate this treatment. If you take the pots indoors every winter and treat them like houseplants, you can overwinter a rose. I have had success over wintering the following: chives, garlic chives & tansy. I'm trying daylilies this year, so I don't know yet. I seed annuals in my pots every year.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2008 at 9:42AM
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nancy_in_co(z5 CO)


I overwinter some pots too. I have several pots of tall sedums (Neon, Autumn Joy, etc) that overwinter beautifully and rarely get water. I place them on the north side of a stone fence (any structure would do) and bury them in leaves. Once they freeze, they stay frozen. In early spring, I dig them out, cut back last years growth, give them a good shot of water and a little fertilizer. They make good looking and very tough pots for those patio spots of broiling sun.


    Bookmark   September 4, 2008 at 4:08PM
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I have returned to this idea!!

What about planting bulbs such as tulips and crocus? I would guess they might make it if the soil dries out over winter, but I don't really know.

Any ideas are appreciated!

Thanks again :)

    Bookmark   September 13, 2008 at 7:59PM
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nancy_in_co(z5 CO)


I don't think tulips would work as I find they need a good drink a month to flower. If you can keep the pots frozen, you might try daffodils and crocus. I actually had the best luck last year with hyacinths. I don't normally have great luck with hyacinths so maybe that was fluke! Iris in the ground take lots of freeze/thaw. I have never tried them but they might work.


    Bookmark   September 15, 2008 at 11:48AM
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Thank you, Nancy!

I have tons of iris and crocus. I know that the planters will be covered with snow forever so I think this will be a great way to go. I might even stop at the shop and pick up some hyacinths.

I'm already excited for spring :)


    Bookmark   September 15, 2008 at 9:10PM
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Jennifer....good luck and let us know if you find a bulb that over winters...ok...

I'm also trying moonshine yarrow. Spring sounds good to me too!!!! :0)

    Bookmark   September 16, 2008 at 10:47AM
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nancy_in_co(z5 CO)

OK, so now you have me motivated to try something new too. I am going to thin a row of Stella'd Oro daylilies this weekend. I think I will try overwintering them in a pot too. Nothing ventured, nothing gained...


    Bookmark   September 16, 2008 at 2:37PM
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I'm glad you all are interested in trying this, too!

Hey, if I can't water a planter here and there for my friends, well, that would just be silly.

I'm going to try it!!

We can get back in spring and share what worked and what didn't.


    Bookmark   September 16, 2008 at 9:14PM
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aliceg8(CO 5)

Jennifer, for what it's worth (since I'm down here in the flatlands)... I have overwintered several things successfully here. I think the trick is that I put them up against my house (brick) with a southern exposure, behind some junipers. This last winter I also piled bags of leaves around them. A tricky combination, but you might be able to duplicate it. I've overwintered clematis, oriental lily, mint, creeping jenny. I watered them only very rarely during the winter. I've also overwintered in the garage the lilies and something else I can't remember.

Good luck!


    Bookmark   September 17, 2008 at 6:49PM
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nancy_in_co(z5 CO)


I tried overwintering in the garage a few years. And I also tried starting seeds in the garage. My garage is south facing with some windows. Ha. The inside of the garage got so warm in the day that plants and seeds sprouted in Feb. Then came some sub-zero nights that killed everything. As usual with some of my not-too-bright ideas, I put down the dead plants as a "learning experience." Ah, the things I have learned over the years... :)


    Bookmark   September 18, 2008 at 3:37PM
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highalttransplant(z 5 Western CO)

The past two winters, I have left pots of various groundcover type Sedums and Hens & Chicks outside over the winter. Some of the sedum foliage dies off when we get below freezing, but in early spring I give them a haircut, and they come back beautifully.

These are on my south facing porch, and probably only get watered a couple of times the whole winter.

You might consider throwing some in your planters to give them interest until the bulbs emerge in spring.


    Bookmark   September 18, 2008 at 4:44PM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

Hi Jennifer,

I second the motion to put some succulents in after you plant the bulbs. Any of the sedums or semps should easily make it over winter for you. The only possible problem with the hen & chicks is that they could possibly get so thick the bulbs might have trouble coming up thru them after a couple yearsÂbut you could always start pulling them out if they get too thick. And the groundcover sedums would drape over the sides of the planter and look nice that way too.

I always have things left in pots that I just donÂt get into the ground, and IÂm always surprised that most things make it over winter. And theyÂre in SMALL pots! I do water all winter tho. With you being up in Nederland, I think anything you plant in a planter will pretty easily stay frozen all winter, and should make it even better than the stuff I wind up with in pots down hereÂwhich do definitely freeze and thaw and freeze and thaw....

One possible problem with the bulbs I just thought of. Squirrels and other rodents could get into the boxes and eat the bulbs, so you might want to cover them with chicken wire or hardware cloth to keep out any bandits! Just something to think about! Daffodil bulbs shouldnÂt be a problem!

I say go for it! I bet itÂll be a big success!


    Bookmark   September 21, 2008 at 12:47AM
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Thanks everyone!

I bought a huge bag of daffodil bulbs and grape hyacinth bulbs yesterday. I do have tons of Sedum spurium to clip from. Might be nice to have the sedums along the edges and the bulbs in the centers.

I am thinking about the wire mesh as we are basically living in a squirrel and chipmunk reserve, or so it seems.

They never bother my plants but they have dug holes in the strawberry bed...not sure what for! Maybe they were burying their booty!


(I'm very glad you are back, Skybird!)


    Bookmark   September 21, 2008 at 11:48AM
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does anybody have suggestions for trying to overwinter some container tender perennials inside? i have black and blue salvia and irene rosemary and cannas in a container together, and then purple fountain grass in another. the rosemary probably needs to go in a windowsill, but do you think the salvia would survive in a reasonably insulated windowless garage? and if so, do i need to water it? never tried this before, but i'd like to cut back on how much i need to buy in the spring.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2008 at 6:49PM
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Here are some thoughts, Jen (Gosh, another Jen ;o).

I think your rosemary should be in sunlight as you suggest. I had probably 50% of the potted rosemary die the last year I tried to keep them on the floor of the basement where a little sun would come thru a West window some Winter afternoons. After a couple tries at keeping them down there, I moved the rosemary onto the greenhouse floor over the Winter.

The greenhouse is unheated until I start plants in March and when outdoor temperatures were to go down around 10°F, the plants were covered with a heavy, old quilt. At times the quilt would freeze to the north wall. The quilt covered the plants over the course of a good number of nights and days, now & then. They were watered but not very often. This routine got the rosemary thru the last 2 Winters with hardly any losses.

I have saved canna tubers along with my dahlias in a basement room. The roots are placed bags of peat moss. The room is closed off from the heated part of the basement and has a dirt floor. (This house is over 100 years old and that room works really well for potato, gladiola, and dahlia storage. :o)

I don't know about the salvia. Maybe others have some experience with getting them thru the Winter.

I hope these ideas are of some help.


    Bookmark   October 5, 2008 at 11:57PM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

Hi Jen,

I donÂt know about the salvia either. Do you know the botanical/Latin name for what you have? But many outdoor plants that are brought into the house over winter can be very susceptible to mites and whitefly, and I suspect most kinds of salvias would be. Did you let any seed develop? Depending on the species, you may have been able to collect seed and start it again in late winter. IÂve never tried to overwinter anything in a garage or basement, so I donÂt know about that. I suspect any sort of a non-hardy salvia would need light to keep going. But if you do decide to try it, yes, the soil will need to be kept moistÂif the roots dry out completely for almost all plants, they will die. But keeping it too wet will rot the roots, so thatÂs not good either! :-)

With the purple fountain grass, you can divide off a small piece and grow it in a fairly small pot over winter (in a sunny window). I did that last winter, and it worked pretty well. The hardest part is getting a division that actually has roots when youÂre dealing with ornamental grasses. Like anything else you bring in, be sure to watch it for insects, especially mites on a grass. HereÂs a picture of mine last winter. ItÂs VERY small, and it was green (not purple), and looked very wimpy all winter, but when I got it back out in the sun and it started growing, it quickly turned purple again and did beautifully! By the middle of summer it pretty much filled up the 10 or 12" pot I have it in on my front porchÂbut I donÂt have a picture of it!

Welcome to RMG! WeÂre glad to have you here!

    Bookmark   October 6, 2008 at 1:11AM
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aliceg8(CO 5)

Hi Jen II!

I brought in a pot of rosemary last winter and tried it in the kitchen. It got very leggy (I think the warm temps were the culprit). So I moved it to the basement laundry room with the geraniums (near an east facing window), it stopped growing but did get mildewy on the new growth. But it survived the winter and in the spring I trimmed off all the mildewy growth.

My first winter in Colorado I overwintered containters in my garage under a west facing window. But the window was small and up pretty high, so they didn't really get much light. I watered occasionally. I overwintered an oriental lily this way and some creeping Jenny.

If you've got a sheltered, south facing spot you might try overwintering you tender perennials there. I piled a lot of leaf bags around my containers (they were up against the bricks of the house with big junipers in front of them). I did this with clematis. I have another similar sunny spot where snapdragons overwintered in the ground.

Good luck and welcome to RMGs!


    Bookmark   October 6, 2008 at 1:51PM
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Hi there,
I've read this whole thread and I guess I am a bit confused, sorry! I have my blueberries in a huge, but movable, planter on my enclosed balcony. I live in a condo in Chicago (so no outdoor ground garden) and am moving this winter. I bought burlap to wrap up my beauties, but would it be better to place them in my garage? I thought if I wrapped them up and placed them next to my building (brick so it generates some heat) they should be fine as long as they are well fertilized and kept watered? Thanks so much for the help!

    Bookmark   September 5, 2013 at 4:16PM
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