Winter is soon to start. I have perennials I did not get to plant yet. How can I save my plants? Can I put them in my basement during the winter?
The Gardener’s Answer
Hello, Laurie: Winter is fast approaching and it always seems like there is one more thing to do in the garden before putting it to bed for the winter. We all run out of time and I can promise you that you are not the only gardener that has perennials that still need to be planted. Unfortunately it really is getting to the point where if you do not get them in the ground in the next week or so you are better off waiting until the spring. As the ground freezes and thaws it can heave up newly planted perennials that have not established their roots, making them more susceptible to winter damage. Over-wintering your perennials in their nursery pots is fine; the main concern is that the roots do not freeze. If you can dig a larger hole and place the plants in their containers in the hole, back-fill with the soil, and then add a layer of mulch, this will help to insulate the plants. Otherwise, you can place them in your garage or your basement if you have to. You do not want to fertilize your plants at all during the winter and only water when necessary. They are dormant at this time of year and placing them in warmer temperatures will confuse them, so no additional light is needed either. Because these hardy perennials would prefer to have colder temperatures during the winter months, if you have an unheated garage/shed this may be a better option. If you were dealing with tender perennials or tropicals then yes, your basement would be a good option. Unless of course your basement is cooler and does not have much light. Otherwise, leaving your hardy plants outside in their containers either buried in the ground or surrounded by pine straw or mulch to help protect them should be just fine. Keeping them close to the house will also provide some protection and radiant heat. Then you can get them in the ground next spring. Another option would be to create a mini greenhouse for them using plastic and bamboo or wood. If you have no other options, then by all means bring them into your basement to protect them.