Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Preparing for winter: how I overwinter my plants

So with winter imminent it was time to dig up and take in all the more exotic elements of the garden to save them from a cold icy death. The majority of the garden is actually hardy or are annuals however a splattering of tender things helps jazz things up and emphasize the exotic nature of the garden.

All in all it was a good job I took things in today as this morning (20th) I saw the first proper signs of frost revioir Dahlia imperialis...

I'm loving Cannas more and more every year, which is good as they are multiplying up fast! Basically all that I do is cut off the foliage, dig up the clumps, and knock off the main chunks of the wet garden soil as it tends to have quite a lot of clay in it, I also try and rescue worms which seem to like living close to the rhizomes.

Once dug up I put them into compost bags, gently filling around the edge with dry multipurpose compost. They then live for the  coldest part of the year in our electricity meter cupboard which is underneath the entrance to the house, and probably stays at about 5-8 degrees.  Some of the Cannas which are in pots I tend to just cut the foliage off and move into the covered side passage by the house. It is open at one end, but it is covered and it think the combination of the warmth from the house and dryness is what keeps things alive.

I do find that the Cannas actually can survive in the ground, however they are then so late getting going that it means it would have been better to dig them up. I am expereimenting leaving some in the ground, and I will dig them up in March?

The Enstes are the exciting thing which I deal with as follows

1) Happy plant, not knowing what will come next

2) Cut off the leaves and roots (be careful not to damage the corm) and also leave some of the stems. A temptation is to peel all the dead leaves off  like a banana, however try and keep most as this prevents it drying out too much

3)  Wash the base to get the remaining soil off and then cut off the remaining roots

4) store upside down somewhere frost free (mine are in the meter cupboard). This drains out the water that is in the leaves

5) after a few weeks if the moisture has gone turn the right way up

Finally the remaining Musa sikkimensis were dug up and put into pots and will be joined with the Musa lasiocarpa in the sideway.

Bananas waiting to go under cover if the builders ever finish the sideway
The greenhouse is also getting full! I have lots of salvia cuttings and hedychiums. A good tip for those people with Carnivores is that it can be good to move the sarracenias out for the winter as the cold is supposed to be good for them....I've started doing this as it is a great space saver.

Dahlias all stay in the ground, although I am going to try digging up 2 Dahlia imperialis to get them going earlier in the year, I also lost one at the far end of the garden and I wonder if it is simply too wet for them to survive.

Finally some pictures of today's frost...its not devastating but enough to kill off the Dahlias and slap around a few other things...

A flowering Dalia imperialis and Tetrapanax is a sure fire warning that the frost is about here!  



  1. Liking your bananas, well worth preserving their trunk and current height and you get instant impact when you plant them out again. Try Dahlia excelsa too which we found to be hardier than imperialis and just as majestic.

    1. I as just a little surprised how big they had got! I may need to be trying them outside this time next year as they are a little too tall! After your feature on Dahlia excelsa I have got a couple which did well this year....not as tall as imperialis but good to have!