Some plants cannot survive outdoors during winter due to the extreme cold of the season. The problem of where to store it then arises. You need to keep plants in a place that provides the right temperature, air, and warmth to survive.
You can store your plant in your garage, porch, bathroom, basement, windowsill, around the house, greenhouse, or kitchen sink, or you can bury it. Wherever you store it, make the environment conducive to your plant’s survival—so it doesn’t die of cold.
Plants need extra care in winter—especially plants that are not suited to the cold. Frost can be lethal to vulnerable plants, destroying plant cells and leading to plant death. In this article, I will explore all your plant storage options and how to keep your plant alive throughout the winter
1. Overwinter Your Plants in the Garage
An unheated garage is the one likely place to store your plants for the following reasons:
- It’s spacious: You can easily make room for your plants’ pots and gardening tools.
- It’s close to the house: You don’t have to walk a mile to check on your plants as they are close to your home.
- You wouldn’t mind the dirt: While watering and tending to the plant, you may get dirt on the floor. It’s easier to clean it in a garage than at home.
As appealing as storing your plants in the garage may sound, there are some precautionary measures you should put in place.
Keep Plants Insulated
Garages can get very cold during winter, especially at night. You can place a tray underneath your plant pot or keep them on top of a table. The floor gets cold at night, so if the containers are on the floor, the cold may travel to the plant via the uninsulated material. Placing a barrier beneath the plant will avoid harmful temperature exchange.
Keep Plants Warm
Plants need sunlight to survive. It’s best to place your plant pot by your garage window. Windows get cold at night, so don’t place them very close to the window—or the cold will transfer to the plant. If your garage doesn’t have a window, you can fix artificial lights (halogen, fluorescent, incandescent) to keep the place warm.
Keep Plants Watered
Plants do need water, but not in excess, especially not during winter. You need your plant to be moist. So before watering, touch the soil to see if it’s wet or dry. You can do a finger test by pressing your finger to the first knuckle into your plant’s soil. If it’s dry, water it, but if it’s moist, wait until the soil is dry before you water the plant.
If you use an irrigation system to water your plants, the irrigation system might also need to be ’winterized.’You can read more about this in my article: How To Winterize an Irrigation System
Keep Plants That Can Tolerate Cold Temperatures
Some plants are cold and hardy, while others aren’t. Some plants need light, while some can survive without it. Check the kind of plant you’re tending to in your garage to be sure you’re doing it right.
Plants need a temperature of at least 45° to 50°F (7.22 – 10°C) at night and 65°F (18.33°C) during the day to survive during winter. The garage maintains a temperature of 40° to 50°F (4.44 – 10°C). So the garage provides a suitable environment for plants to thrive in their dormant period.
2. Place Your Plants on the Porch in Winter
You can store your plants on your porch, but they must be covered. During winter, plants don’t need cold air, so place them in areas that receive less air. Your plants need some extra care to survive the winter.
Plants need a warm space during winter and the right temperature, so you can’t leave your plants on an open porch.
There are other ways of keeping your plants warm on your porch.
- Wrap your plants: You can wrap the pot with bubble wrap, a blanket, newspapers, etc. You can use anything that will provide warmth. Check out my article about the best plant covers.
- Build a box: You can also build a big wooden box. Line the box with newspapers or bubble wraps for extra warmth, then put your plants inside. Your plants need breathing space, so don’t place things on the box. If you can’t make one, you can buy one.
- Cover the ground: It can get freezing if your pot rests on a concrete floor. You’ll need to cover the ground with a blanket or cardboard paper before placing your pots on it.
- Keep pots together: The plant containers should be together. You can use newspapers to fill in the spaces between them. After that, you can wrap them all up together using a blanket or a tarp.
Prune the tip of the plants before storing them. Some plants need to be cut to soil size, while others need constant pruning, even during winter, till it goes dormant. Whatever the case, find out the kind of care required by the plants you’re storing.
3. Use Your Bathroom as an Overwinter Option
The bathroom is one of the most unlikely places you’ll think of storing plants during winter, but it’s effective. You can keep your plants in bathrooms that you don’t often frequent aren’t, and bathtubs are also an excellent storage option.
You’ll want to ask, why the bathroom?
- The bathroom is humid, which is suitable for plants.
- Plants provide warmth to the bathroom due to the moisture they release.
- The bathroom is easy to clean after tending to your plants or taking them out after winter.
- Kids and pets will not disturb your plants.
- It adds a natural aesthetic to your bathroom.
However, ensure you install an extractor fan to help extract the steam and keep the air fresh.
4. Overwinter Your Plants in the Basement
The basement is an excellent place to store your plants throughout the winter. The basement may be dark and cold, but it can still be a safe place to overwinter your plants.
If you decide to store your plants in the basement, there are a few factors you must first consider:
- Steady temperature: Most plants need a stable temperature of 45° F to survive the night, so your basement must meet this standard. If it gets too cold at night, you’d have to use a natural lighting system to warm it up or cover the plants with a blanket.
- Watering: Plants do not require too much water during winter because it’s their dormancy period. It’s best to water the plants only when the soil feels dry, probably once in three weeks.
- Clean plant pot before storing: Outdoor plants accumulate salt over time. Remove the salty soil, and trim out dead foliage too. You can clean the pot’s body with a damp towel before storing it.
- Check for pests: You may have little or no pest infestations during winter, but it’s possible. You must check your plants at least once a week for pest invasion. If there is, separate the affected plant from the others.
5. Place Your Plants on the Windowsill in the Cold Months
The windowsill is one of the ideal places to store young plants. The windowsill receives light and air, and it’s spacious. There are some factors to consider before storing plants on windowsills.
Here’s what to do:
- Keep plants away from the window: The windows get cold at night. You should keep your plants a few inches away from the window—to prevent the cold from freezing the leaves.
- Sunlight: Your young plants need sunlight. Windows facing the south or west are the perfect options for adequate sunlight.
- Avoid dust: Windows tend to accumulate dust and other particles over time. Therefore, you must clean your windows and windowsills regularly to prevent dust from blocking the sunlight.
- Avoid cold air: Some windows may have broken seals which will usher in cold air, which can be detrimental to your tender plants. You have to seal all leaks around the window or use weatherstripping to seal the window.
6. Overwinter Your Plants Inside the House
You can keep your plants inside your house, especially if it’s spacious. However, the winter season is unlike any other, so you’ll need to make a few changes.
Plants may stay without sunlight, but they need warmth to stay alive. It would help if you kept them in a warm environment, not one that gets cold at night. You can install a heater if the room is cold.
Plants kept indoors lose water quickly because of the home heater. Heaters provide warmth but also make the air dry. Plants can suffocate in this atmosphere.
Here are some to do to keep your plants moist and comfortable.
- Don’t overwater: Your plants do need water in winter but not as they did during summer. So before watering, use your fingers or a soil moisture gauge to check if the soil is moist or dry. Water only when it’s dry.
- Use a humidifier: Since the moisture levels may drop during winter, you can install a humidifier. The humidifier will help keep the air moist.
- Keep plants away from direct air: You shouldn’t keep plants directly close to air – hot or cold. So, please keep it away from direct contact with the heater or any drafts from the window.
- Keep plants close together: Keeping plant pots close to each other will help provide more warmth.
- Add a tray beneath: For extra warmth, you can pour water into a tray and place the pot on it. However, don’t forget to change the water regularly to prevent the water from becoming stagnant.
7. Place Your Plants in a Greenhouse for Winter
A greenhouse is perfect for storing or even growing almost every kind of plant. If you have a greenhouse, you can keep your plants there, but if you don’t, you can build one before winter, especially if you don’t have anywhere else to put your plants.
In storing plants in a greenhouse, there are some things you must consider for the plants’ survival.
Ensure Your Greenhouse Provides Sufficient Warmth
Greenhouses typically absorb sunlight during the day and store it for nighttime warmth. The stored heat keeps the plants warm all through the night. The shade the greenhouse provides also shields the plants from direct sunlight that may cause them to wither.
However, winter is unlike other periods, so nights may get too cold for the stored warmth to help. Here are some things to do to help your plant stay warm.
- Cover your greenhouse: You can use a horticultural bubble wrap to layer your greenhouse. This process will let in enough sunlight during the day but keep it cold at night.
- Cover plant pot: You can use the same bubble wrap to wrap the plant container for extra warmth at night. If the cold gets severe, use horticultural fleece to cover the plant at night. You can remove the fiber during the day.
8. Overwinter Your Plants In the Kitchen Sink
Your kitchen sink is another place you can store your potted plants during winter. If you have a sink that isn’t functional, you can put your plant there.
Here are some reasons for keeping your plants in your sink:
- It is easier to clean up the dirt from the plant.
- The plant isn’t on the floor, so it stays warm.
9. Bury the Plant for Winter Protection
Some plants can survive being outside through the winter period. Plants thrive better if planted in the ground, so burying your plants through the winter will make them feel at home.
The winter period is the time for plants to rest from budding, so you aim to keep their roots alive. As much as the earth is a plant’s natural habitat, there are certain things you should know before burying them.
Get Your Tools Ready
You’ll need the following:
- Fiberglass or plastic containers
- Chicken wire
- Insulating materials
Place Your Plants in Suitable Containers
Some pots are porous and have good drainage but crack under frost. Ensure your plants are in a fiberglass or plastic pot before burying them.
The time of burial is also essential. It would be best if you didn’t bury your pots during winter but a week before the first frost arrives. This timing will help your plants acclimate to the environment before the frost arrives. When it comes, it easily adapts to the cold.
Bore a Hole for Your Plant Container
Find a sheltered location in your garden or lawn to dig a hole. Let the cavity be a little bit deeper and wider than the length and breadth of your pot for space.
The extra space gives the plant room to breathe. If there is no space, the plant may suffocate and die.
Spread Gravel at the Base of the Hole
It will help if you spread gravel at the base of your hole. The rock will aid drainage during spring when the frost begins to melt.
This drainage is essential because the water becomes stagnant if the frost starts to melt and there’s no drainage. Stagnant water can cause the root to rot and die.
Cover the Plant With Sand
After filling the hole with gravel, place your pot inside the hole. Ensure the pot and plant is inside the cavity—but leave a little space. You want to cover the plant with a layer of sand, but you don’t want it heaped. The sand will provide an insulating layer for your plant and protect it from the winter cold.
Insulate Your Buried Plant
Although buried, plants still need to be insulated. Since you can’t open it up to mulch it, you will need to use another method.
You can pour dead leaves or compost where you buried the pot. You can do this once every two weeks. Don’t forget to mark the spot so you can always find your plant container after winter. During spring, you can recover your buried plant.
Winter Plant Storage Q&A
Will a Covered Porch Protect Plants From Frost?
A covered porch can protect your plants from frost if the temperature is above 30°F (-1.1°C). If the temperature drops below this point, your plants may freeze. Small plants may not survive the winter on a porch, so store smaller plants indoors.
Will a Carport Protect Plants From Frost?
A carport shade is sufficient to protect plants from frost. However, if the temperature drops below 40°F (4.44°C), you will have to take the plants inside, or they won’t survive. Alternatively, you can cover them with a frost blanket to keep them protected from frost.
You can also wrap the pots with blankets or horticultural bubble wrap to provide extra warmth.
Will Plants Freeze in the Garage?
Plants will not freeze in the garage. You can safely store your plants in the garage all through the winter. The temperature in the garage stays at about 40 – 50°F (4.4 – 10°C) consistently and hardly ever drops.