Overwintering our Friends by Marge Trachtenberg

Overwinter Plants During Austin’s Crazy February Storms

We have all read the books and articles on how to overwinter plants in the house. We read that we should start getting them used to less light, less water, less fertilizer, and less attention.

Overwinter Plants inside

Overwintering plants inside can make for a crowded house!

We read that we should check for diseases, insects or even slithering critters, before making the transition from outside to inside. It all makes for good common sense, especially for those of us with a geranium or two, a Sansevieria that lives under the trees all summer, or a single Euphorbia trigona that thrives on our covered porch but shivers when November comes around. No problem!

How Do Master Gardeners Solve the Problem?

This past week we had our monthly Travis County Master Gardeners Association meeting. We do them virtually but start out in Zoom breakout rooms so that we can chat with each other. Since all the weather predictions were warning of Austin’s annual round of February cold snaps, we agreed that all those “helpful” articles do not go far enough for most of us.

We started out commenting on the current cold snap and how we had blanketed some of our shrubs and flower beds. It did not take long until we were talking about the plants we store inside every winter.

Solution: Move Plants to Living Spaces

Plants crowded onto a dining room table

The dining room table is the perfect (?) place to overwinter plants when a cold snap is predicted.

One person confessed that there is not a bit of room left in their garage because it is filled with plants. Another said they have not seen their dining room table since October and still another said that they have some many plants stacked up in their bedroom window, they can no longer reach the blinds without one of the long “grabber” sticks. Other seconded that statement.

Someone said they had to move out a couch to make room for plants. A few others talked about the huge Plumeria trees that were occupying most of their kitchen or living room. Some of us shared about how they’d displaced so much furniture to make room for 100s/1000s of seeds they’ve started under grow lights and on heating mats in one room or another. A couple of us even took our computers or phones into other rooms so that we could all see their overwintering clusters of lovely plant life. It was hilarious! It was heart-warming!

Discovering a Superpower During Power Outages?

It felt so good to realize that not one of us was the only crazy plant-obsessed person on earth, – the person who all those “Garden Humor” memes are written about. What a relief! Nothing wrong with getting really-really creative to accommodate and protect our horticultural treasures while the cool weather passed over. Maybe wintering over our plant buddies is our Superpower!

Plants crowded together inside a house

Welcome friends!

In the interest of full-disclosure I must confess that my home looks like a jungle each and every winter. In some spaces, I have to duck and dodge just to make my way from one room to another. Mostly I don’t mind as I feel like I am surrounded by old friends. How about you and your space?

Additional Resources

Weather Strategies for Austin Gardens

Frost and Freezing Temperatures and Ways to Protect Plants – Michigan State University Extension

Monthly Gardening Calendar for Austin

About Marge Trachtenberg

Marge has been a Travis County Master Gardener since 2008. She is a former executive in global operations and sustainability, but now concentrates her efforts on gardening. Marge has expertise in community gardens, native plants, pollinators, and vegetable gardens. She gardens organically and enjoys helping others discover their love of plants.

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