Overwintering your Favorite Plants to get a head start next Spring and save yourself some big bucks!
Overwintering your favorite plants, like Pelargoniums (zonal geraniums) is not difficult but it does require a few things for the best results.
There a a few methods for preparing your plants for indoor life and I share what has worked for me in overwintering my favorite plants.
I have both the zonal geraniums and ivy geraniums that I love and though I can just start new seeds in the winter as I show here SEED STARTING FOR A BEAUTIFUL GARDEN I do love to bring them in for some winter color in the house or in my studio cottage.
Bright Light is Best
Yes, given the right conditions these will bloom for you. Bright light is essential for the geraniums to bloom so place them near an east or west facing window. And even if you are not particular about getting winter blooms bright light does keep them healthier.
Other plants you can overwinter indoors are:
Sweet Potato Vine
Start with healthy plants
If you are expecting your plants to survive the move first of all they need to be healthy specimens. If a plant looks sickly or bug infested and has struggled all summer you are just asking for trouble by bringing it in with your other plants. It is not worth it in the long run, toss it in the compost heap and call it a day.
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Clean plants before overwintering
The first thing to do is give them a good shower with a spray nozzle outside, let them dry well. The power of the spray should be enough to wash off a good portion of any pests that may be hiding on or under the leaves.
Giving them a good spray with this 3 in 1 fungus and pest control liquid is a good way to help get rid of any that may be left.
An alternate is to spray them with an insecticidal soap.
Recipe: 1 gallon distilled water, 2 tablespoons Dr. Bonners castile soap, 2 tablespoons vegetable oil. Mix well and put in a spray bottle. Spray leaves especially under them. Let sit for 20 minutes and spray off with a spray nozzle.
Some plants do not like this being sprayed on them, Sweet Peas, Azaleas, Begonias…that is why once the spray has sat on the leaves for 20 minutes I spray it off. Many just leave it to dry.
Keep it on hand, in the winter it is not unknown for spider mites to attack out of the blue. Usually for me it is late Winter, Early Spring. Spider mites seem to love the drier conditions inside the house. They will suck the life out of your plants if you let them get out of control. Spray the plants once a week with either of the sprays above to keep spider mites at bay.
Cut plants back
Another prep I do is cutting the plants back to a size easier for indoors.
My ivy geraniums are in large size hanging pots so to bring them indoors I take them out and re pot them in smaller 4 inch pots to fit on a window sill. I trim them back to about 4 or 5 inches long. I will do the same with the Fuchsias.
The sweet potato vines I take cuttings and root then bring them in. If I have a large plant I dig up the tubers and try to overwinter them in the basement. (I tend to forget I have them by Spring and find them later in the Summer all dried up.) This year I will make a note and try to remember.
Keep your rooted sweet potato starts by a window that gets plenty of sunshine and watch out for those dreaded spider mites. Mine seem to be particularly susceptible, one day they are growing like crazy, even twining themselves up my blind cords the next they are dropping leaves.
Don’t be afraid to give them a haircut through the winter, just root what you cut off in water or toss. (some have kept just cuttings in water all winter and potted up in Spring but I have yet to be successful at that)
Not all plants do well inside. Most annuals are not good candidates. They are programmed to grow a season, go to seed and die. You are better off saving seeds in Fall and replanting.
For the best results with plants you can overwinter here are a few tips…
1. Bright light…
Your plants will need the most light you can give it so next to a window is best. We have a wrap around covered porch which shades our downstairs windows but upstairs gets pure unblocked sunshine, my plants do best up there.
2. Don’t over water…
Let the plants dry out some between watering.
3. Keep an eye out for pests…
Especially spider mites. You will see what looks like fine webbing under the leaves if they are present.
Use the 3 in 1 spray or horticultural oil spray and it will get rid of them or get them under control. I take the plant outside, spray it good then bring back inside.
4.Another indoor Pest…
If you get an infestation of the fungus gnats (some think they are fruit gnats, they are not though they look similar), get the sticky traps, usually listed for white fly, they work great for these pesky gnats. See post highlighted below for a full article on Fungus Gnats.
So if you have a favorite geranium you want to keep for next year, give bringing it inside to overwinter a try. You might even get some winter blooms to brighten a dreary day!
One step that many will say is necessary is to bring them in and out to let them adjust over time to the change in light to reduce stress to the plant. I have never had the time or patience to do that and I have been completely successful with overwintering many so for me it is completely optional. If you don’t know by now you will learn that I am a fuss free gardener and I eliminate any steps I find unnecessary in my gardening ventures to make it easier thus more enjoyable.
Want more plant fun…go here to see how to start from from what you have! Free Plants!
Note: some plants need to go dormant in winter, tuberous types of begonias are one as well as fuchsia. In fall before a freeze I cut back the foliage and place the pot in my basement where it stays above freezing all winter. About a month before our last frost I bring it out and put it in my greenhouse. I re-pot them with fresh potting soil, give it a good watering and watch for new growth which will appear as the days get warmer.
Want to see a great video of how Laura of Garden Answer overwinters hers just click here.
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