Winter-ize our plants?
Hello, We were given a number of wonderful potted outdoor plants by someone who was moving out of state. We're loving them, they're doing well, but as we haven't had outdoor plants before I'm wondering what we need to do for winter. We have fuchsias, hydrangeas, geraniums, strawberries, a small hemlock tree, verbena, & calibrachoa (that I can identify). There's also a small, bright green tree which we moved to a larger pot, but I don't know what it is (in the pictures it's the one in the middle behind the front seats). We're just about a block from the ocean and tend to get a lot of cloud cover even when the rest of the town is sunny, and we get very little wind out back where they are, if that matters at all. Thank you for your time! Diana
Lincoln County Oregon
Thank you for your question, Diana. There is not a 'one size fits all' for overwintering your large assortment of plants, and some will be able to withstand your coastal winters, while others will need protection. Each plant has the ability to withstand certain cold temperatures, and are classified by which USDA hardiness zone you are in. You can look up your zone through this website: https://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/PHZMWeb/ I think you're in zone 8a or 8b, so relatively warm.
Plants get protection through a variety of methods. Some, like the (apparently) cedar and hemlock trees, can be left outside because they are woody plants, so the bark protects the trunk and stems. But you can do a web search for them to see how low a temperature range they can tolerate. (The lower the number, the colder the winter temperatures.) The trees and the hydrangea might be able to withstand your temperatures, but will do better if planted in the ground, where the soil will protect them. Generally, planting them in an area receiving sun (when there is any) and away from strong wind will help.
I am unable to tell whether you have a hardy fuchsia (it has tougher stem tissue than the annual variety) or not. Here is an article on overwintering them: https://hortnews.extension.iastate.edu/2005/9-14/fuchsias.html
Geraniums are typically viewed as an annual (depending on the variety), but can be overwintered in even the coldest areas. Here is an article on how to do that: https://hortnews.extension.iastate.edu/2004/9-17-2004/geraniums.html
Strawberries can remain outside. Find an area they can spread out into in the spring (through stolons, which produce the 'daughter plants.') I wouldn't bother with the petunias (although they are pretty!) They are true annuals, and will get 'leggy.'
You can look up your other plants' USDA zones to see their hardiness zones, and decide whether you have enough room to keep them indoors, if it is too cold for them. If left outside in pots, it helps to mulch them, and, if a really cold spell is coming, wrap the containers in bubble wrap.
Hope this isn't too overwhelming, and is helpful. Good luck!
You are most welcome, Diana. Here are two more OSU resources you might find helpful: https://catalog.extension.oregonstate.edu/sites/catalog/files/project/pdf/pnw548.pdf https://catalog.extension.oregonstate.edu/em9027 Happy gardening!