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Question on over wintering hosta in pots

  • Subject: Question on over wintering hosta in pots
  • From: "George Africa" bizplanr@together.net
  • Date: Sun, 20 Nov 2005 06:22:30 -0500

Hello Phil;

There are some on the various lists who live in zone 3 as opposed to the
fringe where I live. Temperature fluctuations here sometimes take us to
around 35 below for a few days but recent years have not gotten close.
We still have some experience with cold temperatures.

If your hostas have been in pots 1-3 years then you know that they have
some good root systems. Typically the roots will have moved to the sides
of the pots and down to the bottom. Fast growers often have a larger
root mass at the bottom of the pot, sometimes twisted into a mass if
they haven't succeeded in exiting through a drainage hole.

If you are going from Zone 5 to 3 in one year in pots,  I would err on
the side of caution and move the pots off the bench onto the ground. As
you mention, waterproofing is the most important care but my concern
would be the possibility of freeze/thaw if left on a bench. Leaving pots
on a bench allows for greater temperature change. Here in Vermont we
almost always have a thaw in January and that few days in the 40s or
slightly higher followed by a certain below zero period kills many of
the roots. 

As a reminder, the difference between zones 5 and 3 also is evident in
the presence of rodents and what they can do to your prized plants. I
always use a spun fiber insulating blanket and then 6 mil construction
poly over the top. Before I cover things up I lay 15" pieces of 2 inch
diameter pvc pipe between the rows. I put a couple ounces of DCon in
each piece. The pipe protects the poison from domestic animals and makes
spring clean up easy. Bait bars are effective but rodents tend to carry
pieces around and this can be an obvious concern.

Best wishes in zone 3. It is different!

George Africa
Vermont Flower Farm
256 Peacham Pond Road
Marshfield VT 05658-8099
Tel. 802-426-3505
FAX 802-426-3706
Zone 4

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