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Best Tips to Save Plants Over Winter

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.

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

The Greenhouse Tips for Saving Plants Overwinter

DIY Greenhouse is perfect for saving plants over winter.
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 of 2022, and saving money on plants is one of the reasons for building it.

First, the greenhouse is not heated and living in zone 7B; our winters are usually mild. However, it would be best if you were 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 work for any space, such as an 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 with personal experience for their advice.

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

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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 Heater
  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 how to ensure 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 keep 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 a clean container. If you use recycled containers, wash them thoroughly and allow them to dry before planting.

Cut stems from the mother plant just above a leaf joint using sharp pruning shears.

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 ensure 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 keeping your geraniums.

greenhouse with flower containers
This is Kim at Shiplap and Shells beautiful Greenhouse

Saving Ferns Overwinter

Ferns are another expensive purchase every spring; therefore, I will 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 it in a dark area, such as a basement, that stays above 40 degrees over winter.

A friend suggests trimming 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.

Trim Ferns to overwinter in Greenhouse

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 were only stems standing up in the center of the plant.

Give ferns a hair cut to overwinter and save for Spring - save in Greenhouse
Use Sharp Pruning Shears to cut the fern back

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

Give ferns a hair cut to overwinter and save for Spring
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 must be prepared should extreme cold temperatures hit your region.

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

Gather ferns and plants together to keep warmer on cold nights

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 you cannot 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 airflow around them.

Use Plastic Wrap to insulate plants on extreme cold areas.

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

A Space Heater should only be used with caution. DO NOT USE A SPACE HEATER WITH A DROP CORD!

UPDATE: Overwinter Success

I had great success saving geraniums and ferns overwintered using these techniques. Your success will most likely depend on your zone.

I also found that trying to overwinter more delicate plants was a wasted effort in my zone.

However, the techniques worked well and have saved me money each Spring. These suggestions have definitely been worthwhile.

Other Preparations for Spring Blooms

In addition to overwintering plants, I’ve also been planning for more spring blooms. As I’ve removed spent plants, I’ve added 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 bulb 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.

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.

You may also like How to Split A Lilac Bush.

How to Save Plants Over Winter to Save Money in the Spring

Lorri

Thursday 2nd of June 2022

Hi Rachel.... now that we are in spring of 2022.. how did yr geraniums and ferns overwinter? I tried for the first time to bring in my fern... I put it in filtered light and spritzed it every day, only gave it water when dry. It lasted all winter ..I live in 7B area so I brought it outside in Early May and it is getting new fronds. I did talk to it...saying you can do it!!

Rachel

Thursday 2nd of June 2022

Lorri, Everything did great. It took my ferns awhile to come back out but overall it was a great success.

Cindy@CountyRoad407

Thursday 12th of November 2020

Great tips. Mine have already died for the year so maybe next year I'll give this a try. Ha! Who am I kidding. I'll just kill those too. Thank you for sharing over at the Farmhouse Friday link party. Hope you link up again. We love your stuff! Pinned :)

rahrags@gmail.com

Monday 16th of November 2020

Cindy, I really appreciate this. Rachel

Kelly

Saturday 7th of November 2020

Wow, thank you Rachel for all of these amazing tips!!! I am pinning this!