Perennials are the most economical way to keep your garden stocked year-after-year. Some of your favorite perennials will likely already be in the ground, but today we are going to review some handy techniques to keep your perennials alive in pots during the colder months so that you have beautiful, early-blooming plants next spring.

Whether or not you can keep a certain type of perennial successfully potted outdoors during winter really depends on what zone that specific plant is hardy to. For example, a perennial that is hardy to Zone 3 should overwinter just fine here in the Dayton area in Zones 5-6. Some good choices for potted perennials in this zone are May Night salvia, hydrangea, aster, and peonies.

The Key to Overwintering Potted Perennials

The key to keeping your perennials alive is to ensure the root system is snug and well-protected so it doesn’t experience freeze/thaw cycles. One tried and true method to protect your potted plants is to group all of the pots very close together in a sheltered area of the yard. Try to choose a spot where your plants will be out of the wind and elements. Once you have placed in their new winter home, tuck them in by wrapping them or covering them up.

Insulating Your Plants With Straw

Using straw around your potted perennials is probably our go-to way of insulation. Once you have your pots placed where you want them, surround the entire pot thickly with straw, and cover the top of the soil in the pots with straw as well.  For extra protection, sprinkle a bit of the straw over the plant itself – but be careful not to bury it too deeply or you will risk smothering your plant.

Other Ways to Insulate Your Plants

There are several additional methods we use for insulation. Give one of these a try if you don’t have enough straw laying around to surround the entire group of pots:

  • Foam Board Insulation: Place some foam board insulation around all four sides of the grouping and then sprinkling with straw.
  • Bubble Wrap or Burlap: Wrap the pots generously in either bubble wrap or burlap.
  • Empty flower boxes: Dig trenches in your now-vacant garden boxes and bury the pots at least halfway or all the way, and then mulch with straw. Again, while you want to sprinkle straw lightly over the plants themselves and apply it thickly to the soil around them, you don’t want to bury the plants in straw so deeply that they won’t return in the spring.

Although it’s getting cooler, we’re not slowing down here at the greenhouse! Drop by to ask us questions about the best ways to overwinter your plants, take a stroll around the property to see all of the festive poinsettias and decor, pick out some houseplants to make your home warm and cozy, and always remember that sharing your love for gardening by giving gifts of living plants to your friends and family may just spark a new passion for them. 

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