Question on whether to plant, leave potted (indoors vs.

Asked November 14, 2019, 2:28 PM EST

So I have a serious dilemma and I'm hoping for some help. I live near Charlotte, Michigan (Zone 5) and it's 30 degrees out right now and daytime highs appear to not get much above 40 anytime for the next 10-15 days. Late November looks like daytime highs in upper 30's but we've got 3-4 inches of snow on ground still.

So I have a number of unplanted trees and perennials. The perennials are mostly hydrangea shrubs, all different specific kinds and trees are 1/3 evergreens (gold&yellow arborvitae/juniper), 1/3 hydrangea trees (all diff kinds) and 1/3 flowering cherry & flowering crabapple trees.

1) Should I be planting anything at all now or just leave everything in their pots over winter?

2) Is planting trees better over the winter in ground or if they're in a pot outside is that fine?

3) Where should I keep any over winter potted plants? I have a detached, unheated garage and lots of land and even a full basement with some empty rooms.


Eaton County Michigan

1 Response

Thank you for contacting Ask an Expert.

First of all welcome to the plant lovers group! We were all novices once and we too are hooked and loving it.

You are in a difficult spot as many of us are in Michigan! Who would have thought we would have had January weather in November!

First of all, ideally your plants should have been in the ground a month or two ago. Fall is an excellent time to plant. Since you have so many I'm hoping you took advantage of sales at local nurseries.

You have a few options. It sounds like next week we will have a bit of a thaw. If your ground is not frozen you can still plant. Just make sure you add a thick layer of mulch (like leaves or straw) on top of the base of your plants. Good planting techniques take a bit of time and since you are short on time one of the easiest things to do is sink the pots in the ground again covering with mulch. The other option is to store them in your unheated garage and if possible mulch them there to protect them from subzero temps which are sure to come our way. The plants you have should overwinter with cold temps but not in a heated basement. This will probably be your best option at this late date.

Make sure that your plants are not dry whatever method you choose.

Here are some links which might be helpful.

I hope you have found these useful. Good luck and start planning for a wonderful spring.