Over wintering half hardy plants in pots

You can never quite predict how severe our winter weather will be. In the absence of a crystal ball, it is best in October to make contingency plans to help your plants to survive while there will still be some warmth in the sun and the soil. Hardiness is a complex issue in Britain, even though there’s not much variation in climate. When plants die overwinter, it’s often a wet rootball that finishes them off rather than severe cold, so improving drainage is vital.

There are several ways of helping potted plants survive. The first thing to do is begin to dry the pot out, so watering stops from now on as a signal to the plant that the growing season is over.

If the pot is staying outside, stand it on pot feet from October to March so that any excess water is able to drain away from the roots. This helps enormously. Or, move your pot into the lea of the house, or another dry position. This will keep a lot of rainfall away from the plant. Under the greenhouse bench is often a good place too if the plant is small enough. If this isn’t an option, pots of agapanthus and lilies, for instance, can be laid on their sides to stop rainfall from soaking the roots. If you have something slightly tender in your pot, such as frost-hardy fuchsia or a salvia, wrap the entire pot in fleece or invest in a fleece jacket and put it in the warmest place you have.

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