Putting the Garden to Bed


After some wet fall weather, and maybe a frost, it is time to put those tender plants you want to save to bed.

Tuberous begonias need to be put under cover and allowed to dry out completely, until the leaves have wilted and the stems separate from the tubers at the ground. Keep the tubers dry in a very cool but frost free place. I leave mine right in the soil until time to start them over in the spring, but if your storage space is limited, remove them from the soil, brush them off and store them in a paper bag, perhaps cushioned with dry peat or potting soil.

Fuchsias that are growing in the ground may be hardy enough to winter right in place. Trim off the floppy top growth to a few inches from the ground and mound some loose mulch over the crown to keep them a little warmer.

Photo credit: Nurseries Online.

For more information about growing begonias, follow this link.

Take down fuchsias in baskets, trim them back at least to the rim of the pot, and bring the pots into a garage or other sheltered place for the winter. Keep the soil slightly moist during storage. In spring, remove from pots and pull off some of the old soil and roots so that you can repot them in fresh potting soil for the next season. I prefer to simply purchase some new small starts and make a new basket each year, for greater vigor, pinching at least twice and using a good liquid fertilizer every two weeks as they grow.

Geraniums sometimes winter over outdoors here at the coast, but if you really want to save them, they need a frost free place with bright light. A greenhouse or sun room is ideal. A covered porch is a likely spot, too, but beware of deep freezing outdoors.

Dahlias will usually be fine left in the ground if your drainage is good, although they do need to be divided at least every third year. To store them, dig and hose off, then either divide the tubers now, saving healthy tubers with the stub of a stem, or store the clumps intact and divide in the spring when you can see the eyes forming on the good tubers. It is best to put the tubers in barely moist peat, sawdust or other loose medium and keep them in a frost free, dark location. A cardboard box or burlap bag is better than a plastic container, which can encourage rotting.

Finish cutting off the foliage and stems of perennials, raking up dead foliage and applying fresh mulch if desired.

Your garden will rest comfy until spring awakens the plants again!

Happy Gardening,

Karen Brown

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