Over-Wintering Container Plants Outdoors

All containerized plants that are considered hardy in your zone can spend the winter outdoors. Make sure that plants go into the winter with moist soil so that there is water available to plant roots during winter thaws. Check soil moisture occasionally never allowing it to dry completely. It is also a very good idea to spray needled and broadleaf evergreens with an anti-desiccant. This acts as a protective coating for plant foliage and stems as it helps them retain moisture.


  1. In the fall, remove the plant from its container and plant in the ground. Another method is to bury the pot, with the plant in it, in the garden and remove the following spring. Both of these methods will insulate the root system preventing it from freezing solid and killing the root system.
  2. Place containerized plants in an unheated garage along a heated wall. This is an excellent method for very large pots or porous pots that tend to break apart from the constant cycle of freezing and thawing. For extra root protection, you may wrap the pots in plastic bubble wrap.
  3. Group pots together along the sunny side of your house or shed. If this area is windy, create a windscreen with stakes and burlap. Place bales of straw or hay around the perimeter of the grouping. Fill in areas between pots with mulch, shredded leaves or hay for insulation. Lay evergreen branches or place a layer of mulch on top of the pots for additional protection.
  4. Use a cold frame covered with plastic or reemay fabric to help control temperatures and reduce light as well. It will still be necessary to use mulch, shredded leaves or hay around and in-between pots for insulation.  Rodent control, such as Havahart traps, may be necessary when using this method.