If you’ve put together a large plant collection over the season, you may be wondering what to do with it in the winter. All of those trips to local garden centers, covering your porch and yard with beautiful tropical plants, and then suddenly, the first frost hits! Don’t panic. Here’s some tips to prepare your plants for winter.
Bring Your Plants In
When the first frost is near, it’s time to bring your plants in. We’ve all had those nights where we scramble to bring everything and anything inside, it’s simply part of the hobby. Try to designate an area to over-winter your plants. A spare bedroom or even a garage can work. You just want to make sure your plants aren’t experiencing freezing temperatures.
Cover Your Garden
If you have a veggie garden, mulching or covering your crops can go a long way. Mulching helps keeping the root ball from freezing, and also prevents weeds from stealing precious nutrients. If you still have some late summer crops that can handle a frost, cover them up with extra sheets or a blanket. Plants like broccoli like a little frost, so don’t concern yourself too much with the cole crops. I primarily focus on covering any lingering tomato and bean plants from the summer.
I like to use a mix of garden compost and Garden Straw to mulch my garden. You can also use landscape mulch or wood chips. If you do choose straw, make sure to use one without seeds!
Set up Grow Lights
If you are bringing in a large amount of tropical plants from outdoors, setting up grow lights is a great place to start. It’s important to minimize the shock of moving plants. And since these guys have been experiencing awesome summer sunlight, bringing in some supplemental lighting is a great way to ease the transition.
I am a big fan of Soltech Solutions grow lights, because they look good on display. I’ve also had good luck with MarsHydro lights.
Use a Portable Heater
Have an outdoor greenhouse? Try a portable electric heater. They can end up being costly to run, but saving your entire plant collection can be worth it. I ran a gas line and installed a heater in my hoop house. But on frosty nights, I often run an externsion chord to my Palram Greenhouse and set up a portable electric heater. If you can keep the greenhouse at a solid 50 degrees, and avoid any drafts, you are good to go.
If this is your first time wintering plants, don’t stress! Just make sure to cut back a bit on watering and fertilizing. Plants like to rest during the winter, and they likely won’t push out a huge amount of growth. As long as you keep them warm and happy, your collection will be fine.