Fall and winter’s cooler weather may run a chill down the spine of your outdoor tender edible and ornamental plants, but they don’t have to succumb. Depending on the plant and your climate, your summer sparklers and fruit producers can be kept in hibernation mode over the winter months. This overwintering, as it’s called, protects cold-sensitive plants from temperatures that would nip or freeze their leaves and even cause their root systems to die.
You’ve invested a lot of TLC in nurturing your landscape and planters through the spring and summer. Don’t let cool temperatures take them from you now—or any other time, for that matter. We’ve collected tips on a few favorite plants that will help you see them through to the other side of winter.
With the promise of delicious future figs, you’ll definitely want to set Little Miss Figgy up for success when it comes to winter weather. The good news is, even though figs are a Mediterranean plant, Little Miss Figgy offers hardiness down to Zone 7, meaning it can survive temperatures to just above 0F if the weather’s not too wet over winter. Potted Little Miss Figgy dwarf figs can spend the winter pretty much anywhere. Place it alongside a south-facing wall so it can soak up some warmth, and trot it off to a garage or shed when the forecast dips below 0F. They can survive freezing temperatures for a bit, but it will keep them a bit shorter and limit their fruit production to just once per year. Once the danger of frost has passed, place them in a sunny spot, provide them with some plant food and watch them take off.
Platinum Beauty Lomandra is one of the most beautiful architectural grasses out there. However, lomandras in general cannot survive very cold conditions as it is hardy down to Zone 8, or about 10F at the coldest. Rather than trim down your lomandra foliage and then heavily mulch the crown and roots, simply take your Platinum Beauty into a cool garage or cellar where temperatures stay constantly cool. If you’ve kept your lomandra in its nursery pot and only placed the plants in decorative containers around your porch or patio, your overwintering process is that much easier—no digging required!
You’d be hard-pressed to find a more dramatically vertical succulent for your outdoor garden. That’s a good reason to keep it forever. At the hardiness of Zone 10, Skyscraper can manage to tolerate temperatures to 35F, or just above freezing. Even a cool garage or cellar might be pushing its envelope. Quite alright! Just bring it inside for the winter. As a plant that does well in both full sun and part shade, Skyscraper Senecio will cruise through winter joyfully if placed indoors in a sunny window. In fact, you might enjoy it there so much, you’ll want to keep it inside for good!
Rex-type begonias are hardy to Zone 7, or 0F, so if that’s your climate you can leave the begonia tubers right in the ground and cut off any foliage. For colder climates, bring your potted begonias inside before temps dip below 60F and simply treat them as houseplants. Again, a sunny window should be a happy place for them to spend the cool winter months.
One final sunny thought: By overwintering your tender plants, your outdoor summer garden is nearly full scale when you bring them out of hibernation. It’s a garden—instantly!