We know you are wondering, “What do I do with my containers over the winter? “How do I overwinter pots that have hardy plants growing in them?”.
Here are our tips for taking care of your container gardens this winter:
Containers exposed to the winter elements will freeze and thaw and will probably crack. So for those containers waiting to be planted next year, you have a few options.
- Place the containers in the garage or shed to avoid exposure to the rain and snow and severe ups and fluctuating temperatures, which is what causes them to crack.
- If they’re too big to move, cover them with something to keep the moisture out. It will protect them from expanding over the winter and cracking. Black trash bags work great for this.
- Alternatively, dump out the soil in a pile, and then store the empty pots away until next spring. Over the winter, the collection of soil will freeze and thaw, do a little composting, and later next spring; you can add new soil amendments to the pile, chop it all up, and refill your containers.
Containers with Hardy Plants
For those containers that still have hardy plants growing in them, leave them outside until the plants have gone completely dormant and there are consistently cold temperatures. Then, move the containers into an unheated garage or shed for the winter. Be sure to water well and continue to water once a month to keep moisture in the soil. In early March, bring your containers back outdoors before the plants start to re-grow.
For smaller containers, placing them down in covered window wells for the winter works nicely. Water as needed, and again, pull them back out in early March.
Option for Small Spaces
If you do not have space to store your container garden inside, you can always try to protect the pots outdoors by merely piling leaves around them as an insulator. Place them near the foundation of the house or along a solid wall that is not exposed to the harsh winds and up and down temps of the winter (north or east is good). Piling leaves or placing a chicken wire cage around them and then filling in with leaves and straw helps to insulate. Some will wrap the pot with bubble wrap, and then pile on the leaves. If a dry winter, maybe water once or twice. For decorative ceramic pots, place plastic around the pots first, to protect them from getting stained, and cover to keep the moisture out (unless something is growing in it). Come early to mid-March, uncover and see how well your plants and pots have done.