Friday, September 27, 2013

Over-wintering Tender Plants and Tropicals

I was able to have my Red Star Dracaena over-wintered for a number of years by friends and the plants grew to quite a nice size. That’s the lure, growing larger plants, along with big savings. None of the following methods are foolproof, but, as you experiment, you will find you are able to use more than one method to over-winter some species.

Warm, Bright Conditions

Experts suggest moving plants to a shady spot for a week or two and checking them for insect and disease before bringing them indoors. Bring the plants indoors before the first frost and place them by a bright east, south or west facing window .Large plants can be cut back by a half to two-thirds before bringing them in, to reduce their size and slow them down. Water whenever the soil dries out and give the pots a quarter turn every couple of weeks so they don’t get lop-sided. Additional humidity can be provided by grouping the plants together and putting the plants on top of trays filled with pebbles and water. Avoid misting, unless necessary, as this encourages insects and disease. In winter, our indoor air becomes so dry and this can really take a toll on tropical plants. Turning the temperature down to the mid-sixties helps with the humidity. As the days start to get longer, provide an occasional dose of diluted fertilizer. The new foliage on some plants may be noticeably smaller because of the lack of light. You might consider supplementing this with some kind of grow light.
Some plants that can be over-wintered under these conditions are:
Begonias, Bird of Paradise, Coleus, Elephant’s Ears, Hibiscus, Oleanders, Passionflowers, Plectranthus and Sages.

Cool, Bright Conditions

The following can be over-wintered under these conditions:
Cestrums, Clivias, Cordylines, Crinums, Flowering maples, Honey bush and New Zealand flaxes.

Cool, Dark Conditions

Many tropical plants have a dormant period triggered by a dry period, not the onset of winter. Cool, dark conditions are ideal for planters that go dormant. The bulb can be taken out of the ground; remove the mud and store it in a plastic bag that is not closed. Mist the bulb lightly once a month until spring; Many plants can survive the winter without light, water and sometimes even soil.
For shrubby plants or plants with fleshy stems and foliage, such as banana plants, cut down on the watering and stop the fertilizing. Cut them back and take them inside to a cool spot. Bulbous plants need to be blackened by frost before digging. Use a pitchfork when digging to prevent damage. Remove the blackened foliage and store in dampened peat moss in a cool spot. Ensure the peat moss is not too wet, otherwise they may become diseased, get fungal infection and rot. Divide rhizomes or take offsets from bulbs and tubers in the spring.



The following can be over-wintered under these conditions:

Angel’s trumpets, Bananas, Caladiums, Calla Lilies,, Cannas, Dahlias, Durantas, Elephant Ears, Ginger Lilies, Gingers, Glory bushes, Lantanas, Pineapple Lilies and Tropical smoke bush.


Much of this information was taken from the Fine gardening web-site.

Arlene Ortiz (Wheeler)
Posted by Tammy Jensen at 12:14 PM