Overwintering Your Container Garden

Overwintering Your Container GardenWith the grass still green and sun high in the sky, it might seem early to talk about winter. But now is the perfect time to consider how to overwinter your perennial container garden. It takes some effort and planning, but if done correctly, you’ll be able to protect your perennial plants and enjoy them for years to come.

Those Tender Roots. As the temperature drops, the exposed top part of a perennial plant begins to go dormant. When growing in the ground, roots are protected from the cold. But in a container, the root ball is exposed to the ambient temperature surrounding the pot. Mature hardened roots can withstand a freeze but young new roots at the outer edge of the ball cannot and without protection, the cold will cause root damage. Luckily, Manhattan is gardening zone 7, so the temperatures won’t dip as harshly as, say, a frosty zone 4 garden, leaving it far more likely your urban container garden will survive the winter months if you follow a few guidelines.

How to Protect Your Plants

There are several ways to protect your plants from the cold. Try to use plants at least two zones hardier than the zone you reside in – this will give your garden a head start in its survival odds. Cluster your container perennials in a sheltered area, with the most sensitive plants at the core of the cluster to give them the most protection.  Use larger containers: the additional soil will provide additional protection. Mulch the soil heavily: this seemingly counterintuitive maneuver helps the soil maintain a steady temperature rather than rapidly changing with the hour to hour variances of NYC’s fickle winters. Remember: it’s all about protecting those tender roots! Avoid using saucers, because the collected water can freeze.

Ensure your pots have excellent drainage to avoid any standing water.  When you’re planting your garden, keep in mind that unglazed clay pots are prone to crack in freezing weather. Water your plants during the winter months to prevent the soil from drying out, and try to water them when the temperature is above freezing. Use burlap to protect you plants from any heavy winds. Utilizing these various methods should ensure that your beloved perennial container garden lives to see spring after spring.

The Brooklyn Botanical Garden can provide additional information, and there are numerous other informational sites online that will give you all the tools you need to make overwintering your urban container garden a success. We provide professional urban garden design, expert implementation, and quality maintenance services. If you need help planning for your urban garden’s winter needs, give us a call and discover how we can assist you!

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