brrrr! overwintering tips for tender plants

brugmansiaA THREAT OF FROST LAST WEEKEND sent me scurrying to haul in the houseplants, and though it was a false alarm, it’s time: time to make plans for them and for other tender things like cannas and bananas, cordyline and a favorite pelargonium or two in hopes that what I call these “investment plants” (not perennial on their own, but carried over year to year with extra effort by me) are still around come spring. With frost warnings posted here again tonight, what better day to offer tips for how to overwinter some favorites?

First, my general thinking: No two gardeners’ potential places to stash such treasures will match in temperature or humidity, so when I say the basement works well here, your cellar might not. I have identified my best spots by experimenting, and by killing many things in the process. But every year I score another victory or two because I don’t let failure stop me. (Isn’t all gardening like that?)

And this: If I don’t have the right spot for a plant–often a combination of high light but cool, 50ish-degree conditions–I prefer to try forcing dormancy or semi-dormancy to forcing it to limp along. If you have non-hardy plants you’ve tried keeping as “houseplants” in your heated home with you, only to see them go wretched and leggy, think about letting them rest, or close to it, next time–water very sparingly and keep them as cool as you can.

What I’m doing next: adding a growlight or fluorescent hood for 14 or 16 hours a day in my cool basement to make a so-so-storage space a really good one for many more things. Again: experiment.


marmaduke-begoniaFANCY-LEAF BEGONIAS: After a summer in the high shade of trees near the house, in they came (including ‘Marmaduke,’ above, and yes, that’s my childhood teddy, Iggy; and yes, I ate his nose before I was vegetarian). But first, as with all my “houseplants,” they get a physical: a checkup in the wheelbarrow or on a tarp, one at a time, that includes a trim of any battered leaves, a gentle removal of endless spiders and the occasional tree frog trying to hitch a ride, and a wipe-down or rinsing off of the pots. Best to get all the houseplants in before the heat is on indoors to make the transition less abrupt. These guys are tough, but most of them resent drafty, cold spots; I try to find enough bright but protected places.

BROMELIADS: Bromeliads (including the Vriesea, below) are great in the shady garden all summer, and great in the house all winter. I have had some of mine close to 10 years, have only occasionally repotted and simply keep their cups filled with water all year. Talk about an investment plant.

CLIVIA: This Zone 9 South African relative of Amaryllis asks what many plants from that area do: Let it go dry and cooler in late fall to trigger the late-winter bloom cycle. I simply stop watering the yellow Clivia and also the orange ones for two and a half months, and deliberately grow them in the mudroom, where the temperature shifts noticeably with the season; 50-60 is perfect.

houseplant in wheelbarrow
WITH ALL HOUSEPLANTS: Give them a physical (as my Vriesea is having, above, or as explained in the begonia paragraph); even then, you’ll import some bugs, but no big deal. Take care not to overwater (certain death) and do not feed in lower-light months, except with orchids that are out of bloom, which I feed alternating weeks. Don’t put anyone near heaters or too close to what will be ice-cold or drafty window glass in cold zones. Pebble-filled waterproof trays can add humidity to an area, as can clustering many plants or running a humidifier.

bulbs and bulblike plants

AGAPANTHUS: Traditional evergreen varieties (usually hardy to about Zone 7b) want that tricky combination of conditions that a cool greenhouse provides better than a heated home: bright light, and mid-40s or so, or as close as you can get. Perhaps an enclosed porch, mudroom, or windowed basement (or bright garage if yours stays in the mid-40s or a bit warmer) can provide this. They also want just enough moisture to keep them from desiccating, but not ever to be wet. Go easy. Those that are non-evergreen, with less-thick leaves, will go dormant; place pots in the basement or another cool spot; no water required.

AMARYLLIS: I’m already withholding water the last few weeks as I will for eight weeks or thereabouts, leaving the pots in a closet in the dark, after which I’ll take them out in mid-October or so, top up the soil if needed, and water once, then place the plant in a bright spot until it wants to grow. No trying to coax a sleepy amaryllis with repeat waterings, which can rot the bulb. Wait a few weeks or a month before trying again, and once a shoot of some kind appears, begin to water regularly.

BEGONIA ‘BONFIRE’: The B. boliviensis selection ‘Bonfire,’ above, like its cousin ‘Bellfire,’ is a tuber, and wants to dry off and rest and unless you have ideal conditions (like the nearby greenhouse I have seen them prosper in all winter). For most of us, it’s just easier to let it sleep. I put mine in my 45- to 50-degree basement in the dark, pot and all, remove the withering foliage, and just let it sit, no water. Watch in late winter or earliest spring for hints of awakening: tiny sprouts at ground-level. Bring it into the light then and water carefully until fully awake. Rot from overwatering (sometimes made worse by too-deep planting) is the easiest way to kill one of these in any season, but especially when just emerging and when it wants to take a nap.

CANNA: In Zone 6 or colder, cut back frosted foliage to about 6 or 8 inches (or do this in late fall if no frost happens), then dig the rhizomes. Shake off the excess soil or rinse if you prefer. Divide into clumps of three to five eyes if really large, and place in the basement (or somewhere 45 to 55 degrees) in plastic bags left slightly open or perforated for air. Adding peat to the bags may help, but frankly I always dig up so many that losing a few is no cause for worry. And then I wake them up like this.

DAHLIA: Wait two weeks after a hard frost before cutting stems to 6 inches above the ground and harvesting tubers carefully. Note: The wait is essential for these succulent tubers to be ready to store; if there is no killing frost, I dig in November anyhow. Wash clumps, then dry in an airy, protected spot for a day or two. Store tubers layered in boxes or crates (but not in plastic) in sand, peat or vermiculite at 40-50 degrees, checking for any signs of decay once or twice during storage. Though dividing can be done before storage or in spring, big clumps may be hard to store, so at least cut them in half and wait another day for cuts to heal before stashing. Swan Island Dahlias has expert photos of how to divide.

ELEPHANT EARS is the name people give to both Colocasia (known as taro; the “elephant-ears” with typically matte leaves) or Alocasia (generally, these “elephant ears” have leaves that are shiny). Confusing, as storing them can sometimes be, since varieties on the market vary in hardiness from tough 7B-hardy types to true tropicals, meaning they have very different tolerances. It’s also particularly tricky if you live in a cold zone where the tubers often don’t get enough summer heat to really size up. Some new varieties don’t produce big tubers at all. Small tubers don’t have enough reserves to survive, dug, all winter long, so are best potted up (or left potted up) and stashed in a cool basement. Larger tubers of some kinds can be dug, the leaves cut back to the bulb, and allowed to dry until dry to the touch before placing them in the 45-50-degree spot; some people put them in peat or vermiculite containers first.

Experimentation required, and I mean experiment: I even tried setting the nursery pots of some that I like to use in water gardens (above) in a big plastic tub of shallow water in the cellar last winter. They looked like hell, but grew back into good plants anyhow this summer. UPDATE 2011: I posted an article on storing Colocasia. This year I will try overwintering some indoors in 60+ degrees and bright light, as “houseplants” and some in the cellar semi-dormant for comparison.

GLADIOLUS: After the foliage dies, harvest the corms and store dry in mesh bags with good air circulation at about 40 degrees, such as hanging in a basement. Check a couple of times over the winter for any signs of decay.

other tropicals

BANANAS: Container-grown bananas can be cut back to about 6 inches just after light frost and stored, pretty dry, in a spot that’s about 45-50 degrees, such as a basement.  I always check things I’m keeping dry to make sure they don’t desiccate in storage; sometimes by February, I need to give a little occasional water. Bananas that were grown in the ground must be dug up before frost, which disturbs the root system, so do not cut back the topgrowth too. Instead, wrap the dug rootball in a plastic bag and bring the whole plant into the same kind of cool, dark spot as above, allowing it to dry off at its own pace, cutting it back before watering and growth begin in spring.

BRUGMANSIA: In areas where Brugmansia (top photo) isn’t hardy, the best tactic is to let the Angel’s Trumpet go dry and dormant in a 45ish-degree spot, like the cellar. It can get to be quite a giant in the ground or even in very large pots, though, and big plants are hard to store (or even get into the house or basement!), so eventually you face the reality of having to cut it back partway to even get it into storage. Mine’s going in the cellar lying down, I think; Mary, a Zone 6 reader shared in comments recently that she stores hers right in her house this way; cut in half, and resting, in an out-of-the-way corner, leafless like mine in the cooler basement will be.

HIBISCUS: Many people in cold zones know to bring these tree-like plants indoors in winter, but then try to keep them growing. A more effective tactic if you have a cool spot, would be to encourage them to drop their leaves by letting the plant go dry (like the Brugmansia, above, then store the dormant plant in a 40- to 45-degree location. Check every other week to see if a little water is needed to prevent desiccation.

pelargonium 'vancouver centennial'

pelargonium ‘vancouver centennial’

PELARGONIUMS (fancy-leaf like ‘Vancouver Centennial,’ above, and scented geraniums, or even zonals): If you didn’t take cuttings to root in August, the best way to have the freshest plants for next year, you can use this tactic from the Royal Horticultural Society (very much like the way my grandmother kept hers in her cellar, all cut back to stumps and barely alive, though she hung hers from the clothesline in paper bags). Pelargoniums with any hint of weakness or disease should be destroyed.

CORDYLINE and PHORMIUMS: These are really pricey plants, and get so much better when big, so I’ve been trying storage tactics for years with mixed results. Bright and cool is the key here (like high 40s but lots of light; little or no water), hence my adding a growlight to one area of the basement this winter to accommodate my ever-larger plants better than the two tiny windows can now. Keep a careful eye out for pests, particularly in late winter, and be prepared to trim off dried leaves come spring, when they can go out early.

just-tender woody plants

JAPANESE MAPLES or HYDRANGEAS or other small trees and shrubs that are just slightly more tender than your zone allows can be grown as pot subjects, the way I do my Japanese maples (two big pots above, seen just out of the barn in late April). I have three Japanese maples here that are technically hardy, but hate the ice and wind, so I wheel them pots and all into the unheated garage on a hand cart for the winter, once the frost takes their leaves and they are sleeping. They stay there until sometime from mid-April to early May, and require water once or twice in late winter so they don’t dry out once the potting soil thaws. Every third year they must be potted up or root-pruned. I have two friends with amazing old hydrangea collections grown just this way year after year.

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September 25, 2009


  1. says

    Great info. With the recent climate changes, our winters are much colder & last year many of my lovelies succumbed to the frosty temps. So, off to the garage for this year. Thanks!

  2. Bobster says

    Great tips all! The better half calls this ‘the dance of a thousand plants’…in/out/in/out when frost threatens particularly early but I’m not really ready to bring them all in for the rest of the season. I’m sure the frantic hauling of plants inside near midnight is comical for the neighbors.

    Any tips on tropical vines? I added a passiflora mid-summer that’s more than earned its keep and a place in next year’s plan. Stymied on how best to overwinter inside.

  3. says

    We have always taken in our Lotus and stored it in basement temperatures. I was wondering they would also do well in the huge pot they are in, drained and covered? Any other info on this. Linda Horn

  4. AnnieC says

    I’m always amazed at heuchera that stay alive all winter in pots outside here in Zone 6 and at summer-blooming bulbs that emerge from forgotten soil in the garage with no care. Even though I’d rather do overwintering more thoughtfully, it never hurts to keep plants around for the winter in pots in hopes of a miracle rather than throw them away. Thanks for the great tips.

  5. JJ says

    I’m waiting another week or two before dragging my amaryllis in. I actually knock them out of their pots and store them in a bin of perlite in my basement for the winter. By March the bulbs will start to show signs of life, and I’ll repot them as they “wake up” and move them to a sunny-but-uninsulated enclosed porch. I end up with flowers from April until about the end of May, and by mid-June it’s warm enough to transition them back outside for the summer. It’s a little more work this way, but I just don’t have the indoor space to have them flower for the holidays… I just think of amaryllis as spring flowers now ;-)

  6. says

    @Bobster: Haha! ‘The dance of a thousand plants’ is a perfect description. I will play music and think of it that way as I am pushing heavy things around here on this silly hillside. I’d keep the passionflower inside in a bright spot as a houseplant, and keep it growing.

    Welcome, Stevie. The garage thing is amazing for so many things that are like a zone less hardy than my place. I love being able to grow them, and it’s really not so much work to tote them in and out. Can’t wait to hear how it goes for you; see you soon.

    Welcome, Linda. The problem is not that they cannot stand the cold, it’s that the water they are in has to be unfrozen all winter…which is impossible in a container or a shallow pond that doesn’t have serious floating de-icers. You need 3 feet of water in many cold places, and you just sink the pots to the bottom, apparently, cutting back the topgrowth first. Inside I’d keep them damp and cold. I think the best info on water plants is usually on the catalog places that specialize in them. See you soon.

    Welcome, Annie. You are so right: I forgot to say that often cut-back peppermint geranium or golden sweet potato vine that might have been at the foot of a larger plant in a pot will come back to life once the pot gets watered again, so not just the main attraction in the middle (like the Phormium or whatever). Serendipity! See you soon, I hope.

    Welcome, JJ. I love hearing of ways to trick the Amaryllis into blooming later. Genius idea! Hope to see you again soon with more tips.

  7. matt says

    Margaret, I overwintered my 2 standard Bay trees in a south window and they did great until about a week before they were to go out and one of them yellowed and took months to really come back. It did “okay” for the summer, while the other one thrived. Any thoughts?

    • says

      Welcome, Matt. So many factors to consider to know what happened: how long have they been in the pots (meaning are they rootbound), did they ever stand in water (they don’t like that, like most plants, nor do they like too much water in winter), were there any scale insects or other pests on the plant, etc. Have you looked at its root system anytime since this happened? When a plant really sulks I am also curious what’s going on below-ground. Sounds like a stress reaction of some kind, and I wonder if it has outgrown its pot or whether the roots got soggy and some rotting occurred.

  8. ayo says

    Thank you for this great information. Inspired by your devotion to foliage plants, I have lots of plants from this summer’s pots on which to experiment. Will try to keep your words in mind “But every year I score another victory or two because I don’t let failure stop me. (Isn’t all gardening like that?)” Yes, it is. So is life.

  9. says

    Lalalalala, I can’t hear you! I am definitely up De Nile when it comes to bringing in my collection of tropicals here in Zone 7 — they can probably stay outside a while longer here.

    I have a very large gardenia which is about 20 years old, and every year the gardenia and I have a conversation about no-larger-pot-because-I-can’t-move-a-bigger-one. Last May into June, it had more than 150 flowers, and more spasmodically during the summer. It lives in the sunroom with us — sunny, warm through the day, cold at night because we shut off the heat, and apart from its size and weight, seems happy.

    Otherwise, the brugs, mandevilla, and the white gingers go into the garage and get watered about once a month, and the begonias go into the basement where they are not pleased but they survive. And the angel wing begonia and phalenopsis are happy on the north end of the sunroom. It all works mostly, unless someone leaves the garage door open all day on the coldest day of the year.

  10. says

    Oh, I do think I envy you an ending to fall with a winter that stays winter for many months. Here, it may be in the 30’s at Thanksgiving and 70’s at Christmas. I definitely do the “dance of a thousand plants” many times over. :)

  11. Doug says

    Bananas and brugmansia. My bananas have overwintered in western Maryland for 2 years now, cut back, the leaves and 3-4 feet of mulch have thoroughly insulated these south facing plants. They are now over 8 feet tall and from 2 original “mothers” I must have 15-18 offspring. Now the brugmansia is new this year, also south facing. It has grown from 2ft mail order stem to about 8ft with 6 arms. It is in the ground. Can it overwinter outside? Some mulch, no water, burlap? Any Ideas will be appreciated. Thanks in advance.

  12. Suzanne says

    Great tips. I have a bunch of tropicals in pots this year and am going to try overwintering as well. My question though, is can you keep pots outside that could potentially crack, and protect them somehow, with say bubblewrap, or canvas? There are some pots that have perennial grasses in them, and I’d rather leave outside, but don’t want the pots to crack. thanks…

  13. Amy says

    Every year I bring my rosemary inside and every year somehow kill it before Spring. Please give me some suggestions.
    Margaret, you had some very lovely abutilon. How do you overwinter them?

  14. Gloria says

    Truly I love the dance of the garden, as tonight the 15 year old Bay and Myrtle come into transitional summer room ( 3 sided room) 4th wall screening …for a few weeks or so to adjust to light change, then into diningroom (NE) with less light for winter. They adjust well and get root pruned in the spring. The Beach umbrellas is over the fig ( the scented geraniums gathered round the base) she is loaded with figs that need some Indian summer days to ripen! Enjoyed three for dessert tonight ! Maybe tomorrow goat cheese and fig salad! Yum! Ripening late thanks to cool NE summer! Once frost takes leaves, I wrap the pot with bubble wrap and water only when completely dry in winter and she sleeps in cold summer room with a wall of natural light but no heat! I put plastic over screened west wall for winter This year I am experimenting with two topiary potted tender sage next to fig in summer room! Great covers I keep at the ready for a surprise early or late frost… coconut liners… especially for over window boxes and potted plants! They work wonderful in the garden for late frost in early spring . I bring in reverse spiders, asparagus ferns, coleus, etc., these go from haybaskets to window boxes in an unheated room w/eastern window on metal shelves for the winter and do well. Spring will bring surprises I am sure! Too many plants to make transition to a quick step, so make it a slow dance and find JOY! “For man, autumn is a time of harvest, of gathering together. For nature, it is a time of sowing, of scattering abroad.”~Edwin Way Teale

  15. Marfy says

    I’ve got a lovely big rosemary that is not going to make it through a winter in zone 5. Rosemary never survives a winter in my house either. Should I try wrapping it up in burlap to protect it from winter winds or should I put it in the basement and see if it goes dormant?

  16. says

    Welcome, Doug. The Brugmansia is a Zone 9ish plant, meaning DOA under 20-25 or so degrees, at best, so no way in the ground there to be sure it will survive. In it must come (probably cut back) to sleep.

    Welcome, Marfy. Good thing you reminded me: rosemary! (And you too, Amy.) Generally in Zone 6 or colder, in they must come. And yes, here’s the wrinkle: They want that combination of conditions that we usually have the least of: sunny but cool (like 60 degrees, maybe 55 but not cold, and not dark). They also want great air circulation to prevent pest and diseases (spider mites, powdery mildew, even aphids sometimes).

    Cutting the plant back partway (and enjoying the trimmings with some roasted potatoes and such, perhaps?) may help it to avoid the awful stretching and weakening that happens in too-low light. Another important tip: Do not water again until the soil is dry…and never let it stand in water. Soggy roots is death or at least serious trouble. A good article on rosemary is here.

    @Amy: As for the Abutilon, I am struggling what to do. Mine got to nearly 5 feet tall (there are three of them). Abutilon were popular houseplants (well, at least some species) in the Victorian era and since for some people, but they are whitefly and mealy bug magnets as well if not happy. Hmmm… I have found my variety’s name (it came to me without a tag) and maybe will have my local nursery order one for me next year from the wholesaler who offers it, but if I bring one in I will try to give it bright light and cooler temperatures, and probably a shower every couple of weeks. I will also cut it back partway (which I would have done in earliest spring anyhow).

    @Suzanne: I don’t risk my clay pots outdoors here in Zone 5b; I don’t know where you live zone-wise. I have a lot of nice ones that I have purchased over the years and hope will last a lifetime.

    To make it easy to move the big clay vessels, I often line them with big black nursery pots that are about the same size (like ones for trees and big shrubs) and simply lift that out and take the clay pot indoors. If the liner is big enough (like whiskey barrel or 2/3 that size), or I’m using a weatherproof wood or synthetic or frostproof concrete pot, there is enough soil volume here to protect the roots. Small pots of any material don’t have enough volume here to provide insulation, so even if they were fake pots and wouldn’t crack, I’d lose the plants above-ground like that, even “hardy” things.

    So it’s a combination of pot material and soil volume…if I fear the plastic liners aren’t big enough, but the plants (like your grasses) are hardy, I plunge the liners into my empty vegetable garden for extra insulation all winter.

    If you are in a more favorable zone, but still cold, you will probably still want to get weatherproof pots, or make sure yours don’t heave and thaw in cold spells (so get them off the ground and as you say wrap them even perhaps). I think it’s just easier to have the right pots, and not struggle with all the ugly winterproofing.

  17. rose says

    Inspired by your begonia successes last year, I indulged in several this year, hoping to overwinter them in the unheated cantina of my basement. (It never freezes in there but hovers around 34-36, as we learned when our fridge broke!) My question is: how do I know when it’s time to bring the begonias in for their winter slumber? Do I wait until the last possible minute, trim off the foliage and plunk them in there? Or should I do it sooner, like, oh, now? (I’m zone 5 in Toronto – about a week behind you I think. The lake keeps us a little more temperate.)


  18. Ted says

    Thanks for all the tips. We’ve had above normal temps all September, so I’m in denial, but it time to get going. I just need more south facing windows for all the tender succulents.

  19. says

    What a great post! This has been the most comprehensive, easy-to-understand item on this subject I’ve come across. Thanks!
    What worked for me with my passiflora is houseplant-ing it along all winter, and cutting it back just about to the end when I was getting ready to bring it outside. It came back like gangbusters and looked much better than trying to work around all the dead/dried up leaves.
    Please consider a future post on “best perennials for containers” as I’m always looking for new ideas on that.

  20. Lana Potter says

    two questions:
    i have 6 bradford pears, 3 on each side of drive. one of them was destroyed by wind. what should i do with the bare spot? also, i want to plant hollies. you mention 8 to 12 in a group. are you planting different varieties or using one kind of holly in the group? i have learned more from your website than any other source of gardening. thank you very much.

  21. says

    @Rose: If you mean the tuberous ones, I am thinking 30-something sounds way too cold. 45-50 would be better; they won’t handle the 30s, I fear.

    Welcome, Lana. ‘Bradford’ variety of Callery pears are very weak trees that break up in storms a lot, because of their poor structure (the way the branches are angled and overcrowded, what we call weak “crotches” where branches meet; notice how vertical and tigght-together yours are). It’s likely more trees will break up in time. If you want the look of the Callery pear, get the variety ‘Chanticleer’ or ‘Redspire’ or ‘Aristocrat’ next time…they have better branching habits.

    As for the hollies, I usually group a couple of kinds, but you must have a proper pollinator (male) for each variety, so if space is at a premium, plant a group of one variety of females and then the single male, one male to at least six if not eight or even 10 females. I’m assuming you read this post on winterberries that I grow.

  22. Marie Bryhan says

    I haul in the rosemary, bay and night-blooming jasmine every year. Every year I tell them in no uncertain terms that they are in their last pots, and to make the best of it.
    They have, for over 25 years. It take two of us to drag them in, even letting them dry to desert levels beforehand.
    I whack them back severely, and put them in the sunroom or beside the patio door, and keep them on the dry and unfertilized side all winter. So far, so good. They are all old friends that I would hate to lose.

  23. Alejandro says

    Awesome post!. I would add that when you overwinter Taro inside you have to remember that it’s an edible tuber and that mice will find it. I guess that with your cat you don’t have that problem (I found this out the hard way).
    Other plants that I find do well in a cool and dark space are tibouchina, lantana, euphorbia cotinifolia, hedychium and eucomis.

    • says

      @Alejandro: Thanks for the additional plant solutions, very helpful. Despite Jack’s good work, I have mice in the basement (my foundation is a 125-year-old heap of mostly unmortared stones) so anything I want to store should either be inside a hardware cloth “cage” or wire screening of some kind, and/or surrounded by mousetraps for good measure. I can’t store my potatoes and sweet potatoes or any other foods unprotected downstairs.

      @Nancy: A bad infestation of scale is about as much fun as a bad one of mealy bugs. Not at all. Scale are very hard to eradicate in severe infestations. If the alcohol dabbing and/or hand picking isn’t possible, your next choices are thorough applications of insecticidal soap or horticultural oil, but on the hard-bodied types this can fail (even the oil).

      If I wanted to save the plant I’d probably devote a few hours to hand-picking and so on first, followed by a very thorough application of horticultural oil spray (and repeat as directed on the package). No fun at all.

  24. Nancy WDM Iowa Zone5a says

    I have a bay plant as well that I have had 10 years that I drag in every winter. Unfortunately this summer I didn’t keep an eye on it and is now full of scale. It is a bit big to swab every leaf with suggested by what I have read as a remedy. I have had scale before and got it under control. But it is a mess this year. Someone told me to pitch it but she lived in CA… with a year round growing season…so she can afford to be cavalier. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

  25. says

    Hey Margaret, I know that you under plant your Japanese maples with sedums and they over-winter fine in your garage; but how do other groundcovers do?

    I have a large pot of Ajuga “chocolate chip” and another filled with peppermint, that I was going to plunge in the ground soon; but after your workshop I was wondering if you had any luck storing these types of plant material in an un-heated garage?

    Great post !

    • says

      @Todd: I think it’s a Zone 4 plant (and we all know Ajuga’s a total weed in its growth habit, tee hee) so I am guessing it can take almost anything. I would leave a piece in the pot and see. Same w/the peppermint (speaking of total ambitious weeds!). Last year I had some Tiarella survive in a pot, and with the pots I’ve stored in the 45-degree basement, I have tender things like peppermint geranium and sweet potato vine survive regularly as mentioned. One factor: how big the pot is. If it’s small, that will influence the hardiness. All the pots I mention are large.

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