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Winter-Prep For Outdoor Plants and Containers

While winterizing your home and outdoor plumbing is of the utmost importance, there’s one more item on the winter-prep chorelist to consider: outdoor plants and containers. All those beautiful flowers and plants in containers that decorated your patio, deck or front porch will soon be gone due to colder weather. So, what needs to be done to each of them to prepare for winter?

First take a look at the plants in your containers. For containers with annual plants that grow for just one season, you can discard the plant and the soil.  Potting soil is mostly organic matter that has started to breakdown and lose its nutrients.  You will want to start with fresh potting soil in the spring.  Next, wash your containers with warm, soapy water with a little bleach added.  This not only cleans the containers, but will kill any bugs or fungus hanging onto the container.

If you have plastic containers, these can be stored outside if you don’t have space in your garage or shed. Cover them to prevent any damage or discoloration from the sun. For terra cotta or ceramic containers, you will want to store them inside if possible. Both are porous and retain moisture which can result in cracking or breaking when the temperatures start to drop. If you don’t have space in your garage, try grouping them together close to the house, and covering them to give them as much protection as possible. outdoor-plunge-2013-aug-05-em_1

Next on the list: deciduous or perennial plants that will die. First, trim the tops back to the crown. Remove any leaves from the top of the soil to prevent fungal issues. If you have a covered area or overhang, group plants together to provide some protection from freezing temperature. You can also move them to an unheated garage, shed or greenhouse. This works well for tender perennials that don’t fare as well in containers versus being planted in the ground.

Remember, although most plants go into a dormant stage in the winter and don’t require the normal amount of water as in summer, they still need some water. If your area is experiencing a dry winter, you will still want to give them a small drink every few weeks or so to prevent them over drying. Just make sure not to overwater, as this may cause cracks or breaks in your pots.

Having beautiful flowers and plants in our outdoor living spaces is relaxing and enjoyable during our warm seasons. But, remember to give them, and your containers, the care needed before winter time starts. This will have you all set and ready to garden again come spring.