Overwintering Tibouchina

donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)September 18, 2008

I grew this lovely plant for the first time last year. I planted three and was very pleasantly surprised when two of them returned in the spring. In the meantime, I read an article in Horticulture magazine about overwintering plants, and it said to dig up Tibouchinas and store them in the basement. I read the article several times and I think what it was saying was to just lift the plant, rootball, dirt, and all, and set it on newspaper for the winter with no water or light or anything.

Does this sound right to you? If we have a real Zone 7 winter this year, I seriously doubt they would make it through even with a good mulch, so I would try this method if I felt confident it would work.

Has anyone ever started these plants from cuttings successfully? If so, how did you do it? At least with cuttings I'd have a plant come spring, although the above method would probably give me many weeks of head start.

Any advice will be appreciated.

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59-68 degree temps,free-draining soil.Side shoots of green wood root well.Rooting takes 6-10 weeks.Green wood cuttings in summer.Hard wood in the winter is easier.Seeds in spring.This an ever green and I dont know if you could lift it and store it with no water.You could put chicken wire around the plant and stuff it with straw.If you still need some help cover that with a frost blanket

    Bookmark   September 19, 2008 at 8:22PM
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I have several which have wintered over when mulched heavily, but they are short and are only beginning to bloom now; I wouldn't bank on their hardiness in a hard winter. Cuttings are easy (they'll even root in water, if you like), and I take a few for insurance every year. I keep one second year plant (grown as a standard) in the garage every year, since I find it takes two years for these to fill out and look good. It's in a big pot which gets watered about once a month. The garage doesn't freeze, but the plant gets some light through the small windows and from the fluorescent lights under which I start seeds and grow small things all winter. I've been potting on its 2010 replacement (which is one of the cuttings I rooted last fall), and that'll be trained to a stake in the greenhouse this winter (it's in a one-gallon pot right now). The one I carry over this winter will be trashed around Thanksgiving of 2009...talk about a production! Sorry if this is too much info... I get carried away.

All that having been said, you probably could store the roots in a cool cellar without light, provided they didn't get too wet or too dry...I'd carry over some cuttings, too.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2008 at 8:41PM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

No such as too much information, if you ask me! Thanks, guys. This is great information and I will be taking cuttings this week. I can always mulch them well and take my chances on the ones in the ground. If they make it through, as you said, bubba, I have back-ups.

Your information raises one more question. Do you cut the ones you leave in the ground back in the fall? I did that last year, assuming they would die anyway. It took them until Labor Day to bloom, which was alot later than they took the year before. Am I correct in assuming it was due to the pollarding?

    Bookmark   September 21, 2008 at 10:29PM
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I didn't cut mine back (too lazy for that - frankly, I forgot they were there...), and they were still really late in blooming. Even the ones I carried over inside were late this year, so who knows why? My guess is that they'd die back to the ground here even in a mild winter, anyway, so cutting them back shouldn't make a difference in terms of bloom time. Not sure whether that might affect hardiness or not (as with Salvias); it might be safer to just leave the stems standing, if you're concerned about wintering them over outside.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2008 at 4:27AM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

It really does help to compare notes, doesn't it? Thanks for the feedback, bubba.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2008 at 4:41PM
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Live and learn... in listening to a recent Felder Rushing podcast, I learned that Tibouchinas bloom in response to shortening day lengths, which makes perfect sense, considering they come from close to the equator, where the days are shorter throughout the summer than they are here. And since our summer days in VA are a bit longer than yours in MS, DonnaB, I'd assume you'd get blooms even before I would. This, of course, doesn't explain the huge, profusely blooming Tibouchina standards I've seen at Longwood Gardens in July and August; presumably their days are longer in summer than ours are, but they also have tons of capital, labor, and horticultural magic to invest in bringing something like that about.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2008 at 7:21PM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

So interesting! That certainly does go along with its habit here. Thanks for passing it along, bubba.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2008 at 8:49PM
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