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Re: Question about overwintering annuals

Well Maddy, dunno about some of these as I've not tried to overwinter
in the house, but FWIW, those that I have overwintered in the house
have done much better when in a *cool* room - like one that stays
around 60F or 50F and not up to 70F.  

I have overwintered Pelargoniums in my east facing bay in our cool
bedroom (we keep it about 60F) - did that for years before I got the
greenhouse where they bloom all winter.  They weren't thrilled, but
if kept a bit on the dry side (not to wilting stage, just not always
moist), they generally made it to the next year.  They will do very
well in 40F and even take temps just above freezing - they get that
on the floor of my greenhouse.  They do, however, need bright light
to keep growing and blooming through the winter - a shoplight
suspended over your stand would do the trick if it's not too warm in
that room.  Or, if you have a cool but darkish room, a shoplight
would provide all the light needed - they aren't expensive and you
can rig a stand out of 2x4s to hold one above a bunch of plants.

I had one cutting of one of the sun Coleus survive in a glass of
water on my potting bench in the garage - dim light there as one of
my huge brugs was hogging the overhead fluorescent. I was rather
amazed as I usually kill those.  Temps stay around 50F in the garage,
which is heated.  When I've tried keeping cuttings of Coleus in the
house, I have attracted every whitefly on the east coast - too warm
and air too dry.  In the greenhouse, it's too cold for them and they
rot.  Guess about 50F is the ticket - will try some on purpose this
year in the garage on the potting bench and see what happens as I
have some nice forms I'd like to keep of those guys.  I have found,
oddly enough, that I'm getting seedlings popping up in the flagstone
cracks from forms I had last year...that have come true.

Your marginally hardy guys - like the salvias, may survive in your
unheated garage - they will take temps below freezing but not in the
20s and teens, which they'd get in my garden.  If it is going to get
that cold in your garage, can you get one of those electric space
heaters for the really bitter times, just to bring the temperature
back up near 32F?  Or rig a few incandescent lights near them - often
those light bulbs will put out enough heat to make a difference of a
degree or three.  The Black and Blue salvia may be rated for z 6, but
I wouldn't bet the farm on it.  Key, I am told, to overwintering
marginal plants is keeping them on the dry side.  Current theory is
that they can take cold but not wet cold....I haven't had luck with
this as can't offer the dry side outside in winter.  

There are several (as has been noted) plants going by the common name
of 'Elephant Ear'...which you have makes a difference.  If it's
Caladiums, I just bring in the pots and let them dry off - sit them
in my laundry room as they won't take temps below 50 without tuber
damage - pots get brick hard by spring when I sift through them for
the tubers and repot and start watering and they come back from the
most unpromising looking tubers.

If Alocasia or Colocasia, then, best not to dry those off totally. 
Colocasias will survive freezing if dry I am told by those wintering
them in the ground in Raleigh NC.  I had no success doing that here;
couldn't keep them dry enough in my clay soil.  Best you try to keep
those alive in a warm spot, Alocasias can and should be a bit drier
than Colocasias - most of which will grow in standing water.  You can
dig up the plants and separate off some small tubers of offsets and
pot them up.  Those would be good candidates for your bench in front
of the slider.  Keep them moist and they will keep putting up weak
growth and look like hell, but once outside again with lots of heat
and water, they will amaze you with the amount of growth they put on
in one season. 

I have overwintered rather large tubers of Colocasia by keeping them
in the pot they were growing in in the garage just at the entrance to
the greenhouse (which is attached to one of the garage doors and open
to the garage).  Temps were between 40 and 50F there.  It looked
pretty pathetic by spring, but never went totally dormant.  I watered
it enough to keep it from being totally dry, but not a lot.

Last year, when I tried my experiment of leaving my large Colocasias
in the ground, I potted up some small offsets (thank heavens as the
experiment failed).  Those I kept in a room that gets pretty warm
from large south facing windows - lots of sun.  Well, hardest part
was keeping them watered - shall try Donna's saucer of water this
winter - they'd get too dry and start to brown off and then I'd water
them again.  They kept trying to put out new foliage and survived and
are now huge plants in pots in the garden.  So, they aren't all that
hard to bring through the winter.

Dunno your Fuchsia, but I believe they can be overwintered in cool
rooms but need moist air to not come down with spider mites or white
flies - warm, dry air encourages both of those nasties.

I am going to try to bring in my pots of New Guinea Impatiens this
year and see what happens.  I will put them in our east facing bay in
the bedroom and pray:-)  I have kept a regular impatiens going in
there for years - it's in the same pot with my night blooming cereus
and blooms all winter, but the NG types want more sun than regular
impatiens, so we shall see what happens - again, cool room and added
misting if the air is dry, or trays of pebbles kept topped up with
water to add humidity.

I have had singular failure trying to overwinter regular impatiens in
a normally heated space - they get bugs so bad you end up tossing
them....just too warm and atmosphere is too dry.  I have had them
live in the greenhouse, despite it getting really too cold for them. 
They seed into other pots and if they make it, fine and if they
don't, well....but many do make it; look like hell by spring, but
revive nicely once back outside.  They take 40F OK and are just fine
at 45F and really happy with 50F.

What I'd say is give it a try...if they die, you learn what they
won't take and if they live, you've got plants:-)

Marge Talt, zone 7 Maryland
Editor:  Gardening in Shade
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> From: MyTGoldens@aol.com
> I have several annuals (or maybe they are tender perennials?) I'd
like to 
> overwinter, since replacing them every year is getting
prohibitively expensive. 
> They include New Guinea Impatiens, Lantana, several salvias
including an 
> enormous "bush" of one called Black and Blue, Elephant Ears,
Gartenmeister Fuchsias, 
> non-hardy Geraniums, flowering maples, and Gerbera Daisies. I've
also got 
> some half dozen or more of the new sun Coleus, but those I know I
can take 
> cuttings from to start new plants. What should I do with the other
ones? I don't 
> have a basement or enclosed porch. I do have an unheated garage,
but around here 
> it will eventually plummet well below freezing. Can they be
drastically cut 
> back? Which ones will grow from cuttings? I have a small bench in
front of one 
> sliding glass door, but otherwise lack any more space, so I can't
bring in 
> whole plants; there just isn't any room or enough light.

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