The transition from the warm embrace of summer to the chill grip of winter in the UK can be a harsh reality, not just for us, but for our favourite plants that often require greater temperatures than we can provide them. This is particularly true for the more exotic and tropical plants that grace our gardens and homes.

Common Tropical Plants we over winter:

Whether you’ve had your tropical foliage basking outside in the summer sun, or you have permanent outdoor residents like the robust Musa Basjoo, preparing them for the winter ahead is crucial. This article explores the various options and steps to ensure your exotic plants continue to thrive as they transition into the winter period.

Overwintering, a practice aimed at helping plants survive the harsh winter weather, is crucial to ensure they thrive again in spring. This article delves into why overwintering is essential, the factors affecting it, and what ‘tender’ in horticulture implies. Furthermore, it explores the impact of location on overwintering and sheds light on various places where plants can be overwintered.

Overwintering Guides: Cannas, Bananas, Gunnera, Geraniums

Why Overwintering is Essential

Plants, like all living organisms, have a survival instinct. However, not all plants are equipped to withstand freezing temperatures. Overwintering is a process that helps gardeners preserve their plants, especially tender ones, through the winter so that they can flourish in the warmer months. By providing suitable conditions, gardeners can protect their plants from frost, snow, and icy winds that could otherwise prove fatal.

Understanding what ‘Tender’ really means

In horticulture, the term ‘tender’ refers to plants that are susceptible to damage or death at temperatures below freezing, around freezing, or a combination of the above. These plants originate from warmer climates and lack the mechanisms to cope with cold stress. Knowing whether a plant is tender is the first step towards successful overwintering.

Some plants, like Agave can tolerate the cold, but only if they are dry.

Factors Affecting Overwintering:

Temperature affects over wintering

Each plant has a unique temperature tolerance level. Some may survive mild frost, while others may need protection from even a slight chill.

Light affects over wintering

During winter, daylight hours are fewer, and the intensity of sunlight is lower. Providing adequate light is crucial for maintaining plant health.

Humidity affects over wintering:

Winter air is often dry, which can be detrimental to plants. Maintaining proper humidity levels is essential for overwintering success.

Location: A Significant Determinant

Different locations around your property can offer varying levels of protection to plants. The microclimate, created by walls, buildings, and other structures, can significantly affect temperature and wind exposure. Choosing the right location is crucial to shield your plants from harsh conditions effectively.

Places for Overwintering:

  1. Garage: A suitable place for overwintering dormant or hardy plants as it provides shelter from wind and frost.
  2. Poly Tunnel: Offers a controlled environment with the flexibility of adjusting light, temperature, and humidity, ideal for tender plants.
  3. Against the House: The walls can radiate heat, providing a warmer microclimate for plants.
  4. Indoors: Bringing tender plants indoors is a surefire way to protect them from cold temperatures, though adequate light and humidity must be ensured.

Research is Key

Understanding the specific needs of each plant is fundamental for successful overwintering. A thorough research on the temperature, light, and humidity requirements of each species in your garden will go a long way in ensuring they not only survive the winter but thrive in the coming spring.


Last Modified: October 16, 2023