From the Sperry Garden – October, 2007

Some plants are worth carrying over indoors. Others are not. How can you tell the difference so you don’t use your valuable space needlessly or, worse yet, watch important plants go down with the first freeze? It may have been really warm most of September, but that average date of first freeze is only weeks away in North Texas. Here are some of your considerations:

Will the plant survive indoors in the first place? No point in attempting it if it’s just going to pout and die anyway. By the way, the garage is not a suitable place to overwinter anything other than your shovel, garden hose and lawn mower. It’s not acceptable for plants. Would you want to live out there?

Is the plant a species or variety you can easily and inexpensively buy next spring? As foliage-plant examples, copper plants and coleus are inexpensive. Nice crotons are not. Save the crotons.

Is the plant in a pot? If it’s in the ground, the act of digging and potting it will probably weaken it so much that it wouldn’t survive the shock.

Can you just as easily root cuttings and overwinter smaller specimens of the plant? Coleus, geraniums, Joseph’s coat, begonias and impatiens all fit into that category.

Is the plant of sentimental importance to you? Given to you by a child? Something out of Grandma’s garden?

Will you have to prune the plant mercilessly to get it indoors? Tropical hibiscus and bougainvilleas, as examples, get very large. You may not have space for them and it may just be easier to let them go when it freezes if you live in North Texas. If you’re in deep South Texas, however, put them on dollies and move them into and out of protection those few nights when it’s really cold.

One more point of information:
Many plants are actually damaged at temperatures far above freezing. Tropical hibiscus and bougainvilleas, also Chinese evergreens and dieffenbachias, suffer chilling injury when temperatures begin to fall into the mid-40s. Those plants need to be brought into protection much sooner than plants such as ficuses and crotons that aren’t injured until temperatures fall to, or near, freezing.

Posted by Neil Sperry
Back To Top