Winterizing a Garden that’s On Your Balcony

As it gets colder you have to start to think about what to do with your balcony garden. If you have annual plants on you balcony you let them die and then throw out the remains because they won’t bloom or grow again. With perennial plants its a different story. They appear dead but are actually in a dormant state until the next growing season. Because they will grow and bloom again you have to protect them when the temperatures drop and it gets cold.

The first thing is if possible of course you bring them inside to take care of. If you can’t bring them inside there are some steps you can take to safe guard them so they can grow the next season where they are on the balcony.

If you do bring them inside you want to find a space that has a lot of light. You can either line the floor with paper or foil and put them there. You do have to change the paper occasionally so it won’t smell. With the plants that already have saucers you may prefer not to use paper in addition. Keep in mined when you bring your plants inside the change of conditions can be shocking for them. Plants like humans are sensitive to changes so like a person they need time to adjust to their surroundings. Try not to over water them and keep them from extreme temperatures like drafts and heaters. You can mist them or keep them on a tray with gravel and water to keep them humidified.

If bringing your perennials inside is out of the question there are some things you can do to them to protect them from the winter elements. First you can take some cuttings from the plants and bring them indoors to ensure that you will have a plant next season just in case they do die. You can replant the cutting the following spring outside. Keep the cuttings in a light dry area until the following season.

The main reason you need to winterize your outdoor plants is because you want them to survive the winter to bloom again in the spring. Most perennials do just fine in cooler weather. The can persevere in temperatures from 45 degrees F to 32 degrees F just above freezing. Its the lower temperatures that pose a possible threat to them.

Winterizing plants basically mean that you want to insulate the plant and pot so that the soil is protected. That is the most important thing.
The first thing in winterizing a plant is to cover the soil completely with a protective layer of mulch. You can buy mulch in your local plant store. The only exception would be an herb plant. It is better to bring them inside especially with harsh winter freezes.

Cover the foliage part of the plant with either burlap or horticulture fleece. You can tie the fleece around the pot as well or tie plastic netting around the pot and fill the netting up with leaves or straw. Another alternative is using bubble wrap. Plants like shrubs and perennials believe it or not actually need the cold to tell them to go into a dormant state. This way they sleep until the following season. And the dormant state helps them to bloom again in the spring.

Photo by greckor