Overwintering Potted Plants

(Question)

Last winter my potted flowers / plants actually survived the winter in my backyard. I suspect because it was so mild. What is the best way to protect them this winter? Put them in my garage? If I do that should I water them? They won’t get any sunshine. I’ve posted photos of one of my pots.

One more question – should I plant ranicullus bulbs in the fall or wait until the spring? Thanks so much!

(Answer)

Thank you for contacting the Toronto Master Gardeners.

From your photo it appears that your potted plants appear to be lavender. The following information from one of our earlier posts gives you information on how to overwinter your containers of lavender:

Lavender pots can be stored over the winter for the next season. In the fall, shear back the plants by about one-third (avoid cutting into older, woody stems) – you should be left with a compact cushion of leafy stems. Bring the plants into an unheated garage or porch that is sheltered from wind. Potting mix may freeze, but that isn’t a problem. If the soil thaws out during the winter, water plants every two weeks so that roots stay hydrated.  Come spring, repot the plant in fresh soil.

Any lavender variety will grow in a container, but some are better suited than others. ‘Dwarf Blue’,’Munstead’, ‘Hidcote’, ‘Sharon Roberts’, and ‘Lady’ produce flowers fast and stay a manageable size in pots. 

You may also wish to  search the Toronto Master Gardeners website for “pruning and maintaining lavender” and you will find a wealth of very specific posts on keeping your lavender healthy and in good shape.

Ranunculus is a genus of approximately 600 species of plants. If you are referring to planting Ranunculus asiaticus (Persian buttercup) these plants are cool season flowers that grow best in spring-like temperatures of about 55°F. In warm climates (zones 8-10), Ranunculus can be planted in beds and borders.  Unfortunately, in our climate, which is a zone 5-6, Ranunculus corms are not winter hardy and as a result should be planted in the spring. There is an excellent fact sheet on  Spring Bulbs put out by Landscape Ontario which lists the proper planting depth, care and winter storage of these lovely corms.