Best Tips to Save Plants Over Winter

Rachel The Ponds Farmhouse
by Rachel The Ponds Farmhouse
Y’all I’m excited to share my plans and Best Tips to Save Plants Over Winter. When Spring rolls around, just think of the money you can save!

I’ve collected some Best Tips to Save Plants Over Winter from friends who have already had success with these techniques. Here are the tips and materials you will need to overwinter some favorite plants. Plus, see how to start preparing for spring blooms by planting bulbs now.

I want you to know that this is my first year attempting to save plants and therefore only time will tell if these tips work for me. Since I am not an expert, I asked several friends for advise and here is what I have learned, along with my plan for the winter.

The Greenhouse Tips for Saving Plants Overwinter
Here you can see a Fall Tour of the Greenhouse

If you’ve been following along for a minute, you know we built a greenhouse in the spring and saving money on plants is one of the reasons for building it. You can see this post with all the details.

First, the greenhouse is not heated and living in zone 7B, our winters are usually mild. However, you need to be prepared for unexpected cold weather and prolonged periods of freezing weather.

To determine what planting zone you are located in, go to Garden.Org.

These tips will work for any space such as a enclosed porch, basement or storage building.

In addition, you will find so much conflicting information online and some techniques will work in certain zones and will not work in others. That’s why I spoke with friends, who have personal experience, for their advise.

Agreed Upon Tips to Overwinter

Although there is a lot of conflicting information, here are a few things that are agreed upon.

  • Allow plants to become dormant during the winter
  • Remove dead and diseased stems and leaves before bringing inside
  • Water only when the soil is completely dry – over watering can result in root rot or mold.
  • Keep in a cool place with temperatures ranging from 60-40 degrees
  • Avoid direct sunlight as filtered sunlight is best. However, ferns can be placed in a cool dark space such as a basement as well.
  • Don’t over heat and if using a space heater don’t allow air to blow directly onto the plants
  • Keep an eye on the plants and remove any new growth during the winter
  • Also, remove any dead or diseased stems or leaves immediately

Materials Needed

  1. Fresh Potting Soil
  2. Seed Compost
  3. Clean containers
  4. Pruning Shears

Optional Items Just in Case – Necessary in colder zones.

  1. Horticultural Bubble Wrap
  2. Space Heate r
  3. Insulation Fiber Board

Tips to Overwinter Geraniums

Geraniums are a favorite flowering plant because they bloom from Spring through Fall. If you care for them properly, they will be full of blooms all season long. You can see here how to assure beautiful, continuous blooms.

This geranium has been blooming all Summer and even after it was cut back, the blooms are still popping out.

I have decided to try two techniques to save these geraniums for next spring. Since this is the first year for the mother plant, I want to save it over the winter by cutting back the excess stems and allowing it to become dormant.

Transfer the plant into a clean container with fresh potting soil, remove dead or diseased stems and trim back excess foliage.

Propagate Geraniums

First, as you are cutting the plant back to overwinter, you can propagate new plants from the cuttings.

These were all propagated from the mother plant you see above.

You will want to place is a clean container. If you are using recycled containers, be sure to wash them thoroughly and allow to dry before planting.

Using sharp pruning shears, cut stems from the mother plant just above a leaf joint.

Some of the larger containers hold 3 – 4 stems.

Remove all but a couple of leaves at the top of the stem. Place in your dry containers and fill with seed compost. Water thoroughly and place in filtered sunlight to assure rooting.

Remember to keep new growth pinched off over the winter months.

If you’d like to learn more about saving geraniums overwinter, check out my friend Kim at Shiplap and Shells. She has a detailed tutorial with additional methods for saving your geraniums.

This is Kim at Shiplap and Shells beautiful Greenhouse

Saving Ferns Overwinter

Ferns are another expensive purchase every spring and therefore, I’m going to save mine.

There are a variety of opinions on saving ferns. You can bring them inside as a houseplant, however they may or may not do well back outside next spring. In addition, you can place in a dark area, such as a basement, that stays above 40 degrees over winter.

A friend suggests, trimming out any dead stems with pruning shears and bringing them inside a cool spot with filtered light such as the greenhouse. Only water the ferns approx. once a month or when the soil is completely dried out. This is the method I plan to use on some of the ferns this year.

In addition, I plan to try a second tip for some of the ferns. Another recommendation is to trim the ferns back to approx. 1/3 their size. This involved cutting around the edges of the plant until there are only stems standing up in the center of the plant.

Use Sharp Pruning Shears to cut the fern back

Be aware that your fern will not look lush and green during it’s dormant state. This is perfectly normal.

After the hair cut

Be Prepared for Freezing Temperatures

With milder temperatures here in the south, these plants should do well over winter, however you need to be prepared should extreme cold temperatures hit your region.

The DIY potting bench is being prepared should that occur this winter. A piece of insultation fiber board has been placed on the floor and all the plants can be placed on the board.

In addition, horticultural bubble wrap has been purchased to drape over the potting table and can be tucked in around the plants to protect further.

The bubble wrap can also be placed around the individual containers if necessary. It can also be used around outdoor containers, to prevent the root ball from freezing. This will come in handy for those large containers that you are not able to bring inside.

Important Note: On warm days, you will want to remove the bubble wrap and space your plant apart. Many plants will develop mold without proper air flow around them.

A simple space heate r is also available for extended days of clouds and below freezing temperatures.

Other Preparations for Spring Blooms

In addition to overwintering plants, I’ve also been planning for more spring blooms. As I’ve removed plants that are spent, I’ve been adding spring bulbs to the garden.

Now is the perfect time for planting spring bulbs in Zone 7, however it’s important to check your Zone for preferred planting times. In addition, refer to individual bulbs packaging for planting instructions.

My friend Stacy at Stacy Ling Brick and Blooms, has mastered keeping her garden in bloom from early spring until fall. For additional information about planting your spring bulbs, check out this post from Stacy.

Stacy Ling Bricks and Blooms

We all need a little help from our friends and all the information I’ve gathered for this post is based on results from those with more experience than myself. I hope you’ll visit their websites to gain more gardening and planting tips.

Rachel The Ponds Farmhouse
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Join the conversation
2 of 10 comments
  • P P on Mar 05, 2023

    don't just wash pots - plastic or terra cotta - that you are re-using, disinfect them with diluted bleach! and scrub, not just rinse!

  • P P on Dec 12, 2023

    Also use bleach to disinfect the trowels & pruning shears, scissors & any other tool that will contact more than one plant or it's soil! Wearing cotton gloves that can be washed will prevent you getting infected by odd soil organisms or bitten by tiny critters living in the soil of various plants!