How To Save Potted Perennials Over Winter! Protecting Potted Plants

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Are you seeking a method to safeguard and preserve your potted perennial plants during the chilly, unforgiving winter months?

The practice of cultivating perennials in containers and hanging baskets is steadily gaining popularity. Whether it’s hostas, daylilies, ornamental grasses, evergreens, or everbearing strawberries, perennials not only lend significant visual appeal and vibrant hues to their containers, but they also possess the remarkable ability to thrive anew each year. However, this is contingent on your ability to shield them through the winter season!

In contrast to petunias, impatiens, and other annual plants that succumb to the initial frost or cold spell in autumn, perennials, given appropriate care, will revive come springtime. This translates to substantial savings as you won’t need to replace plants in pots and baskets on an annual basis.

Cultivating perennials in containers offers a blend of beauty and cost-effectiveness. With a touch of additional attention, these plants can thrive season after season, resulting in substantial savings on plant expenditures!


The crucial factor for success boils down to offering that vital protection. Simply because a plant is capable of withstanding winter in your region, it doesn’t necessarily mean it can endure the outdoors in a container or hanging basket. In reality, the majority of perennials are entirely incapable of enduring winter conditions when grown in a pot.

Why Potted Perennials Need Extra Protection

When a perennial grows in the ground, its roots have the space to spread out extensively and delve deep. Moreover, it enjoys the added advantage of the surrounding soil, which serves as a formidable shield against the continual cycle of thawing and freezing that winter brings.

Furthermore, the majority of perennial flower beds are generously layered with mulch on top of the soil. This extra measure goes a long way in fortifying winter protection. Regrettably, containers simply cannot provide the same level of safeguarding for a plant’s roots as being nestled in the earth.

Regardless of how sizable, sturdy, or insulated a container may be, it remains vulnerable to the elements from all sides. When the temperatures plummet, both the soil and the plant’s roots succumb to freezing. And as soon as warmth returns, they thaw just as swiftly.

How To Save Potted Perennials Over Winter! Protecting Potted PlantsUnshielded pots left out during winter can endure just as much harm as the plants they house.

This repetitive cycle of freezing and thawing exacts its toll. Even the most resilient of perennials will suffer significant damage when subjected to this process repeatedly. In fact, in most instances, they succumb entirely during the winter.

Containers, too, bear the brunt of winter’s harshness. Depending on their composition, they often succumb to freezing and shattering in the cold. It’s clear why some form of protection is necessary to ensure the well-being of both your perennial plants and their holding vessels.

The encouraging news is that overwintering perennial plants in pots isn’t a daunting task. It’s neither expensive nor excessively time-consuming. With that in consideration, here are three highly effective methods for successfully safeguarding your potted perennials through winter!

3 Great Ways To Save Potted Perennials Over Winter

#1 Burying Pots In The Ground

A remarkably simple method to safeguard your potted perennial plants is to plant them directly into the ground, pots included! By excavating a hole in the soil and burying the pot along with the plant, you grant them almost all the benefits enjoyed by perennials planted conventionally in beds.

The encompassing soil offers superb thermal insulation for the roots of the container-bound plant. This minimizes the frequency of freezing and thawing events over the winter months. Furthermore, it imparts an added layer of protection for the pot itself.

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This hosta, nestled in a conventional planting pot, is an ideal candidate for burial in the ground. Come early spring, it can be unearthed to flourish once more!


When burying plants, seek out a partially sheltered area for optimal results. Flowerbeds adjacent to a house or a sheltered corner of the garden are ideal choices. To “plant,” dig a hole in the soil deep enough to cover the pot up to its rim.

Keeping It Simple…

No additional soil amendments or compost are necessary for the hole. The purpose is simply to utilize the ground as a storage space for both the plant and the pot. This technique is most effective with pots designed for all weather conditions. Delicate pots, prone to breakage from freezing and thawing, should not be buried.

Once the plant is nestled in the hole, cover the rim and base with three to four inches of mulch. This further enhances insulation for the plant’s roots. Come spring, with rising temperatures, extract the plant, clean off the container, and observe its growth!

This approach is ideal for small to medium-sized container plants, measuring 12 inches or less in depth. Such dimensions allow for easy burial in an open area with minimal exertion. For excessively large planters, it’s recommended to utilize the last method outlined in the article: overwintering in a sheltered indoor space or within a garage.

#2 Transplanting Perennials Into A Holding Bed

Another excellent method for overwintering perennials is to transplant just the plants into a provisional holding area within your flowerbeds or garden. This proves highly effective if you possess a multitude of container plants or if your containers are delicate and prone to damage.

saving perennials over the winter
Transferring your potted perennials to the ground is among the most effective methods to ensure their survival over the winter.


By the end of the growing season, most potted plants can be easily removed from their containers. There’s no need to disturb the roots at this stage. Simply dig a hole that matches the size of the container plant’s root ball and place it into the soil.

Just as when covering entire pots, apply three to four inches of mulch over the plant. When spring arrives, you’ll have the opportunity to unearth the plants and transfer them back into your pots. This approach also grants you the advantage of splitting overgrown perennials in the following spring to create multiple plants.

It’s important to perform this method in mid to late fall before the soil begins to freeze. This gives the soil ample time to settle around the root ball for protection.

#3 Overwintering Indoors

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