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 shade 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 12 months to 12 months. 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 bizarre vegetation he needed for the design-build panorama enterprise he had on the time. In order that they began propagating the vegetation themselves. One residence greenhouse finally begot a farm, and lots of extra.
So ought to gardeners trouble making an attempt to avoid wasting the vegetation they’ve been laboring over all summer time or simply purchase replacements come spring?
“There are some which might be actually price preserving, as a result of they simply get higher with age — like a Brugmansia,” he mentioned. “Or bulbs like elephant ears, cannas and dahlias that get greater or multiply.”
The mad stash in varied types 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 provide up late-winter cuttings for 2021 are already within the greenhouses.
Every species has explicit overwintering necessities, and so they could not match situations which you could present. However Mr. Schrader recommended some methods to attempt — and provided some powerful 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 mentioned.
A disclaimer: Hybrid varieties (together with some marigolds and sunflowers) gained’t produce offspring equivalent to the guardian. 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 Woman in Crimson and Victoria. (You may as well save vegetable seed; extra on that right here.)
Timing is the whole lot, so sharpen your powers of remark, Mr. Schrader mentioned, and watch the climate. Accumulate 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 nearly all the time about nuance,” he mentioned.
If the plant types a pod, it is going to finally cut 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 can be very ripe — which means the tiny seeds could have spilled already. Too late.
With a zinnia or marigold, seed types within the fading flower’s base, “so when its petals are falling, it’s attending to be time,” he mentioned. “Break 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. Examine 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 effectively earlier than a frost and begin taking cuttings,” Mr. Schrader mentioned. First, pinch off any flowers or buds. The size of the chopping depends upon the plant, however ought to common two to a few inches.
Usually, the underside set of leaves will should 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 under the floor. Rooting hormone may also be used. A brilliant, heat spot hastens success; you might wish to name your seed-starting lights into service.
Mist frequently or, higher nonetheless, put a plastic bag over the cell pack to make a mini-greenhouse, which can scale back wilting and defend the cuttings from drafts. Snipping giant leaves in half crosswise additionally reduces moisture loss.
“Don’t fear if cuttings wilt by day,” Mr. Schrader mentioned. “At night time, they’ll perk up and get extra turgid. Then, abruptly, they keep upright on a regular basis, a touch that they’re beginning to root.”
Quick-rooting cuttings like coleus and candy potato vine could be potted as much as bigger quarters, pinched and formed to make use of as your individual 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) may 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 finest to retailer that garlic you harvested in July.
Wait till a tough frost wilts the aboveground components, signaling the bulb under to close down. Then lower the plant again to the bottom and dig fastidiously, beginning possibly a foot from the stem. A pitchfork or digging fork is much less invasive than a spade, Mr. Schrader mentioned. And in the event you grew a couple of number of any of the above, you’ll want to label them fastidiously.
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 internet baggage, that are good for hanging gladiolus or dahlias. Some gardeners separate bulbs that kind massive 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, in all probability, are cannas. Dahlias can shrivel in the event that they get too heat and dry, or develop into moldy in the event that they get too damp, so retailer them within the bark or wood-chip mulch, and examine on them each couple of weeks, misting evenly if they appear dry and discarding any that present decay.
Deal with Some as Houseplants
Possibly the simplest holdovers are these you may 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 mentioned, and permit the soil to dry a bit between waterings: “You don’t wish to push energetic development, however reasonably to match your care to the fact of shorter days and decrease mild.”
Examine incoming vegetation for bugs, or a slug curled up within the pot’s drain gap.
One other piece of recommendation: A phased method over a few weeks is simpler on a plant than being left outdoors until near-frost after which abruptly being introduced right into a dry, heated residence. Houseplants summered open air dislike fast transitions, too.
When arranging vegetation by a window, keep in mind Mr. Schrader’s aesthetically counterintuitive recommendation: Put the quick ones nearer to the sunshine, so the taller ones don’t shade them.
Storing Dormant Vegetation
Don’t torture that geranium (genus Pelargonium) by asking it to continue to grow. Numerous tropical vegetation have a pure dormant interval, Mr. Schrader mentioned: “Even in a lush rainforest, there may be generally 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, “lower off any flowers, however depart them as is, of their pots,” Mr. Schrader mentioned. “Then put them someplace dry and darkish and funky to relaxation — round 40 levels.”
Don’t reduce woody vegetation like Brugmansia or hibiscus first both, he mentioned: “Let winter do its harm, then clear them up after they come out of storage. If there may be dieback and also you already lower it again, you possibly can don’t have anything.”
Farewell, My Beautiful …
For non-hardy vegetation with excessive mild 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 mentioned, as is heliotrope, Bacopa, Lantana and Fuchsia — and likewise 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 mentioned, “however … I feel shopping for a brand new one subsequent 12 months can be simpler.”