Apologies to the Conflict, however it’s time to resolve: Ought to it keep or ought to it go now? From the canna planted by the nook of the porch in spring to the hanging basket of petunias perched close by, many vegetation that present seasonal backyard coloration aren’t winter-hardy. However can we bear to easily compost them when frost arrives?
Dennis Schrader is a veteran plant-stasher, with a list of some 1,600 sorts of tropicals, uncommon annuals and extra, carried over yr to yr. That experience — realizing which to overwinter as seed, cuttings or houseplants, and which to maintain dormant within the equal of a root cellar, and at what temperature and humidity — is on the basis of Landcraft Environments, Ltd., the wholesale nursery he and his husband, Invoice Smith, based in 1992.
They started the Mattituck, N.Y., nursery as a result of Mr. Schrader couldn’t discover the weird vegetation he needed for the design-build panorama enterprise he had on the time. So that they began propagating the vegetation themselves. One dwelling greenhouse ultimately begot a farm, and lots of extra.
So ought to gardeners hassle making an attempt to avoid wasting the vegetation they’ve been laboring over all summer season or simply purchase replacements come spring?
“There are some which can be actually price retaining, as a result of they simply get higher with age — like a Brugmansia,” he stated. “Or bulbs like elephant ears, cannas and dahlias that get greater or multiply.”
The mad stash in numerous varieties is underway at Landcraft, which provides backyard facilities, landscapers and public gardens. Seed-laden flowering stems are being snipped and piled in aluminum roasting pans to carry inside and dry. Hefty inventory vegetation that can supply up late-winter cuttings for 2021 are already within the greenhouses.
Every species has specific overwintering necessities, and so they could not match circumstances which you can present. However Mr. Schrader recommended some methods to strive — and provided some robust love (gulp!) on what to say goodbye to.
Save Some Seed
True annuals — vegetation that go from seed to setting seed in a single rising season — are good newbie candidates for seed-saving, Mr. Schrader stated.
A disclaimer: Hybrid varieties (together with some marigolds and sunflowers) gained’t produce offspring an identical to the mother or father. So analysis whether or not your selection is open-pollinated — and if not, benefit from the shock.
Some acquainted candidates: morning glory and moon vine (Ipomoea), Nicotiana, Gomphrena, Celosia, amaranth, sunflowers (Helianthus), zinnia, cosmos, cleome, calendula, marigold, Verbena bonariensis, annual types of poppy and larkspur, and sure Salvia, together with Girl in Crimson and Victoria. (You may as well save vegetable seed; extra on that here.)
Timing is every little thing, so sharpen your powers of commentary, Mr. Schrader stated, and watch the climate. Acquire from completely dry vegetation, not these soaked by current rain.
The purpose is all the time ripe seed, however what’s ripeness in a single species versus one other?
“It’s virtually all the time about nuance,” he stated.
If the plant varieties a pod, it can ultimately break up open and disperse the seed. On Nicotiana, for instance, the little pods on the flower stem discolor from inexperienced to yellow, then tan, then brown. Brown could be very ripe — which means the tiny seeds could have spilled already. Too late.
With a zinnia or marigold, seed varieties within the fading flower’s base, “so when its petals are falling, it’s attending to be time,” he stated. “Cut up a pair open and see.”
Let the collected seed dry for a couple of days to some weeks, then retailer it in a cool, dry and darkish place, in labeled baggies or envelopes. Verify it sometimes to verify grain moths haven’t gotten in, and for indicators of decay.
Take Some Cuttings
Whereas it’s tempting to hold annual pots indoors for winter, it’s typically higher to take cuttings. Do that with coleus, candy potato vine (Ipomoea batatas), Impatiens, Alternanthera, Tradescantia, both rhizomatous or cane or wax begonias, and decorative sages, together with Salvia leucantha.
“Get on the market nicely earlier than a frost and begin taking cuttings,” Mr. Schrader stated. First, pinch off any flowers or buds. The size of the slicing is determined by the plant, however ought to common two to a few inches.
Usually, the underside set of leaves will must be eliminated. Some — like coleus and candy potato vine — root readily in water, however a cell pack crammed with potting soil is best. Let the cuttings sit in a single day earlier than sticking them within the medium, with the bottom node beneath the floor. Rooting hormone can be used. A vivid, heat spot hastens success; it’s possible you’ll wish to name your seed-starting lights into service.
Mist often or, higher nonetheless, put a plastic bag over the cell pack to make a mini-greenhouse, which can cut back wilting and defend the cuttings from drafts. Snipping massive leaves in half crosswise additionally reduces moisture loss.
“Don’t fear if cuttings wilt by day,” Mr. Schrader stated. “At evening, they’ll perk up and get extra turgid. Then, immediately, they keep upright on a regular basis, a touch that they’re beginning to root.”
Quick-rooting cuttings like coleus and candy potato vine may be potted as much as bigger quarters, pinched and formed to make use of as your personal inventory vegetation, to take extra cuttings from in late winter.
Storing Dormant Bulbs and Tubers
Tender vegetation grown from underground, bulb-like buildings would require a rodent-proof, frost-free cupboard space that’s cool (about 40 levels), darkish and never damp — in addition to your openness to experiment. Cannas, dahlias, gladiolus, calla lilies and pineapple lilies (Eucomis), and a few elephant ears (Alocasia and sure Colocasia) might overwinter there.
Not all cellars, garages or exterior bulkhead doorways are created equal. Studying how chilly yours will get, and the way dry or humid, could contain some mishaps — not in contrast to determining the place greatest to store that garlic you harvested in July.
Wait till a tough frost wilts the aboveground components, signaling the bulb beneath to close down. Then reduce the plant again to the bottom and dig rigorously, beginning perhaps a foot from the stem. A pitchfork or digging fork is much less invasive than a spade, Mr. Schrader stated. And if you happen to grew a couple of number of any of the above, be sure you label them rigorously.
Lay the vegetation in an ethereal spot out of the solar for a couple of week. Then stash them — in milk crates, plastic laundry baskets and even web luggage, that are good for hanging gladiolus or dahlias. Some gardeners separate bulbs that kind huge clumps into smaller ones earlier than storing them; others wait till winter’s finish.
Mr. Schrader recommends wrapping bulbs in newspaper to retailer, or nestling them in beds of shredded newspaper, or in bark or wood-chip mulch. Spraying newly dried bulbs with an anti-desiccant may also assist protect them.
Best of all, most likely, are cannas. Dahlias can shrivel in the event that they get too heat and dry, or change into moldy in the event that they get too damp, so retailer them within the bark or wood-chip mulch, and verify on them each couple of weeks, misting calmly if they appear dry and discarding any that present decay.
Deal with Some as Houseplants
Possibly the best holdovers are these you’ll be able to deal with like houseplants, together with non-hardy ivy and ferns, Plectranthus, elephant ears within the genus Alocasia, cane-type angel wing begonias, Tradescantia and flowering maple (Abutilon).
Don’t feed them in winter, Mr. Schrader stated, and permit the soil to dry a bit between waterings: “You don’t wish to push energetic development, however quite to match your care to the truth of shorter days and decrease gentle.”
Verify incoming vegetation for bugs, or a slug curled up within the pot’s drain gap.
One other piece of recommendation: A phased strategy over a few weeks is less complicated on a plant than being left outdoors until near-frost after which immediately being introduced right into a dry, heated dwelling. Houseplants summered outside dislike fast transitions, too.
When arranging vegetation by a window, bear in mind Mr. Schrader’s aesthetically counterintuitive recommendation: Put the brief ones nearer to the sunshine, so the taller ones don’t shade them.
Storing Dormant Crops
Don’t torture that geranium (genus Pelargonium) by asking it to continue to grow. Numerous tropical vegetation have a pure dormant interval, Mr. Schrader stated: “Even in a lush rainforest, there’s typically a dry season.”
Let the Brugmansia or angel’s trumpet nap, too, together with that tropical hibiscus or tuberous Begonia boliviensis.
With fancy-leaf geraniums like Vancouver Centennial or Crystal Palace Gem, “reduce off any flowers, however depart them as is, of their pots,” Mr. Schrader stated. “Then put them someplace dry and darkish and funky to relaxation — round 40 levels.”
Don’t in the reduction of woody vegetation like Brugmansia or hibiscus first both, he stated: “Let winter do its harm, then clear them up once they come out of storage. If there’s dieback and also you already reduce it again, you might don’t have anything.”
Farewell, My Pretty …
For non-hardy vegetation with excessive gentle necessities and people inclined to insect infestations or in any other case prone to sulk in human-contrived environments: To the heap with them, an train in letting go.
Sadly, these petunias and Calibrachoa are on the checklist that ought to go now, Mr. Schrader stated, as is heliotrope, Bacopa, Lantana and Fuchsia — and in addition that present darling making a silver waterfall impact cascading over many a pot rim, Dichondra.
With all of them, he’s pragmatic. “I’m not saying somebody hasn’t succeeded,” he stated, “however … I feel shopping for a brand new one subsequent yr can be simpler.”