wintering plants

Asked September 28, 2016, 12:33 PM EDT

I bought fruits, veggies and herbs with the intention of planting them. My landscaping is on hold, so they are still in large pots. Should I bring them (strawberries, asparagus, basil, mint) inside over the winter or leave them outside? Should I dig a hold in the ground for the pots? Do I cover them with leaves or hay? I do not know whether to let them get used to the winter naturally or help them, since they are in large pots. When I brought in my pepper last year, it did not work....though I dug it out of the garden.

Hennepin County Minnesota

3 Responses

Thank you for the question. Peppers are a tender warm season vegetable that requires lots of warmth and sunshine so I'm not surprised it didn't do well transplanted and brought into your house last winter. Basil is also not a winter hardy plant. It might last for awhile if brought in. You could try putting in under grow lights to extend its season this winter, or at least placing it in your sunniest window. Asparagus and some strawberry plants are winter hardy so you could try digging the pots into the ground in a protected location, mulching them heavily with clean straw or leaves, and watering well until the ground freezes. There is no guarantee they will make it but by following these steps, you tip the odds in your favor. Next year, dig up the pots and plant them in your garden. Here is more information from the University of Illinois on overwintering perennials, which is what your strawberry and asparagus plants are:

Thank you for contacting Extension.

Thank you for the information. I assume planting my strawberries are better outside than bringing them. Regarding the pepper and herbs, they were brought in before the frost. Possibly they were in shock being dug up or the temp. Not sure. It was not in the winter. They were kept in my sunroom, so lots of light.

Pepper plants are native to tropical climates. Transplanting them was most certainly a shock and even though you had them in a sun room, the amount of sunlight we get is less everyday. The limited light and heat will result in dwindling peppers. You could try them under grow lights to extend the light season and see what happens.
Strawberry plants produce best on new plants every year, either purchased or from runners off the existing plants and they require a period of cold dormancy. This is why bringing them in for the winter won't result in very good berry production if you manage to keep them alive and growing all winter and plant them out in the spring. You are better off putting the pots in the ground and starting new plants from runners next spring.