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Overwintering in window well

Posted by Carol_Ann z8 WA (My Page) on
Mon, Nov 15, 04 at 15:56

Hi, everyone,

I've learned a lot from everyone here already, and after some reading and a few questions that people quickly and helpfully answered, I prepared my fuschia for overwintering in our garage in front of a window. I still have to install a shelf to get it up in the light, however.

And then I ran across this idea over the weekend: use your window wells, covered with glass or plastic, as an overwintering spot for fuschias. We have a perfect window well for this idea and it saves me having to build that shelf in the garage. I'll monitor it for watering, of course, and also keep an eye on the temp, but our climate is pretty moderate (above freezing much of the winter) and this seems like a great idea.

Just thought I'd mention it for two reasons: one, if you've tried it, I'd like to hear about it; and two, I thought maybe others might find the idea useful.

Happy growing!


Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Overwintering in window well

Hi Carol

There are a few issues raised by your question.

a. Is the location of the window well suitable to be covered in the way you describe?

b. Do you intend to over winter the plants in green leaf (growing) or dormant??

c. If you intend to have them in green leaf is there sufficient light reaching the plants to sustain growth

d. Do you have easy access to the plants if you need to remove them if the temperature drops or rises excessively?

I know that you can obtain purpose made translucent covers for window wells and that these would prevent persons falling through them, however I am not sure of the safety implications of adding a plastic or glass cover to your window well, this would depend on who will be in the vicinity and have access to the area.

If you want to over winter in green leaf you need to not only ensure that the plant(s) do not become frosted and that the heat light ratio is correct. If you have too much heat and not enough light you will have long thin weak growth as the shoots search for the light.

Alternatively if you just want to cut your plants back and get them through the winter in a dormant situation you can do this without any light whatsoever, again dependant on the temperature/light ration.

Here in the UK we sometimes wrap plants in newspaper and store them in boxes in sheds, garages and even lofts.

I am not saying that your idea is a not a good one or that it is not possible, but would just advise you to consider if it is feasible and think about which method you want to use to over winter your plants.

If you need any advice on storing them dormant please ask again.


RE: Overwintering in window well

Thanks for all the tips, Tight. I *think* I'm on the right track after hearing from you and others. The tip about window wells was from a Pacific Northwest fuschia website. The fuschia I'm overwintering is Gartenmeister Bonstadt. Kath gave me some good, specific instructions for triphylla types and I thought I was on the right track but the garage is running a bit too warm (60's F so far) and even in the window it's not going to get much light, too many large trees. It's already starting to leaf out again (I cut it back two weeks ago) and I'm afraid it's going to get leggy. The window well is right outside the kitchen door and the temp is a bit cooler there (I've already been checking it) and light is much brighter. Access is easy, it's only a few feet deep, and it would be quite a trick for someone to fall into it (although after the right party I suppose anything is possible) :) Gartenmeister Bonstadt isn't anything unusual, but it grew so much this past summer and was gorgeous, loaded with blooms all summer and fall, and I decided I wanted to try to hang onto it. If you have any other information for me, let me know, and thanks again for all the help!

RE: Overwintering in window well

Hi Carol

Glad that the information was helpful.

Now that your plant is growing away I would suggest a couple of things for you to do;

a. You can remove some of the old compost by cutting off the bottom of the root ball by about a third and taking a slice of approximately one inch out of the remaining root (like a slice of cake), squeeze the roots together and drop this back into the same size pot as you have taken the plant from, this can now be topped up with compost, partly covering the lower branches, this will induce the plant to throw shoots from below the compost and help you to keep it bush and stop it getting leggy. .

b. Water the plant sparingly but now it is in growth it needs more care than if it was dormant;

b. Pinch out the new growths after a couple of pairs of leaves, this will also help to keep the plant bushy;

c. On days where you can, you should put the plant outside of the window well, as long as there is no risk of frost;

I grew a nice Triphylla type fuchsia called Insulinde this last season (you have probably seen the photos in other threads), this is how it looked 13-10-03

If you need any more detail please get in touch.


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