Sunday, March 7, 2010
How does your garden grow? Part 2: Wintering over your summer flowers.
I know what you are thinking. What you see here isn't a bad thing. It's actually very good. These are the three pots of flowers that I winter over every year. Pot 1 is a tuberous Begonia and 2 and 3 are Geraniums. I have done this for 5 years now.
For Geraniums you can do one of two things. I take the easier route. :) Here's what I do. My Geraniums usually last through most of fall here in NEW. I actually have to force myself to put them away when I put up my Halloween decorations. All that I do is pick off some of the dead leaves/flowers and place the whole pot inside of a big garbage bag. This way when it drops more leaves they fall inside of the bag and not on the floor. Then I haul then down into the basement and forget about them until February or March. Really. Now there are experts out there who swear you need to cut back the stems and take the roots out of the dirt and hang them up and yadda yadda yadda. Not that they probably aren't right, but this has been no fail for me since the start. I am no expert. You pick which method is best for you. Your basement needs to be nice and cool. 45-50 degrees is what they like. I don't actually know the exact degree of my basement, but it's definitely not warm down there. It's not freezing either. I'm guessing it's less than 60. See...I'm no expert!
For tuberous Begonias let them pretty much die at the end of summer. Take them in before the first frost. Begonias like it cool, not freezing. They are one of the first pots I take in. Do the same as the Geraniums, let them die and dry up. You can pick off the dead leaves or not. If you do decide to pick them off beware. You are going to think that you ripped up the whole plant. Trust me. It's still there are will bloom again in the summer. Since I pick off the dead leaves/flowers I don't put these in bags. They are mess free. Now on the other hand if your Begonia is a fibrous type they will grow just like a houseplant. Don't put them down your basement unless you are trying to punish them. ;)
Fast forward to spring. Yay! You go down the basement and notice these garbage bags and wonder what the heck is in them. Oh yeh! Bring them upstairs and put them in direct sunlight or under grow lights. I line mine up in front of my patio door. Let them get acclimated to the light and once you start to get growth at a more rapid rate you can water them. Water them with care. Starting with less at first and working your way up to a regular soak. Once they are well on their way, care for them just like you did the summer before. You might want to take the Begonia upstairs before the Geranium as Begonias are slow to go from dormant to active growing. It will seem as if you did something wrong and all of a sudden you will see this little tiny bud poking his head through the soil. You will even look twice and ask yourself it that is really what you think it is. It's that small.
So this summer when you are buying your Geraniums and Begonias plan to winter over them in the fall. It's very frugal and why waste such beautiful flowers? I hate to see them get trashed, but I cannot foster everybody's flowers. I wish. The hubbs would take away my gardening rights. Kidding. Check back to see that the proof is in the pot! I will supply pictures of my beauties when they are a little more attractive.