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Thread: Winterizing outdoor plants

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    Winterizing outdoor plants

    So our high temperatures dropped below seventy degrees this week and it made me realize that fall is fast approaching. I've been growing CPs indoors for a few doors but put together a small outdoor CP garden for the first time this past spring. So this is the first time I've had to think about winterizing outdoor plants. I was hoping you guys might have some tips or tricks to share.

    I live in a suburb about 10-20 miles South of Pittsburgh, PA; on the border between zones 5 and 6 (probably just inside of 6). The plants are each in a one gallon pot of pure sphagnum peat. Those pots are buried completely inside of a garden of pure sphagnum peat. So the ground should be well insulated. The plants in the garden are:

    2 x D Filiformis
    1 x D Capensis
    1 x Typical VFT
    1 x S 'Judith Hindle'
    1 x Sar that I can't remember the name of

    I know I've heard that the cold doesn't do as much damage as the freezing wind dehydrating the plant through its leaves, so snow is actually much better than clear winter days. I've heard of CPers dropping dead leaves over their garden for insulation. I've also heard something about cutting the pitchers to prevent moisture loss. No idea where I saw each of them or if any are true, though. Any thoughts? If anyone knows of a good online guide for winterizing plants that would be really helpful as well.

    Thanks.

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    scottychaos's Avatar
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    Nicholas,
    the D. capensis doesnt need dormancy..winter would probably kill it.
    you should take that one out and keep it indoors all winter.

    As for the rest, an outdoor dormancy in your zone *can* be done, but its very risky.
    I would give it about a 50/50 chance..I live in zone 6 (Rochester, NY) and IMO our winters are just far too harsh for a sucessful outdoor dormancy...just too dang cold.
    I tried it once a few years ago, everything died.

    But it HAS been done in the northern US, so it is possible.

    If you want to try to keep them outdoors, from what I have read they key is DEEP and heavy mulching! I would put a 3-foot deep layer of leaves over the bog!
    (Red or Black Oak leaves are good if you have them, because the sharp edges keep the leaves from compacting and keep lots of air spaces open)
    but failing that, any leaves should work ok.
    Pine needles would be good too.

    IMO you would be better off using the "fridge method" of finding a place indoors that stays cool all winter but not frigid..like a garage or unheated room.
    I keep mine in the basement stairwell that leads out to the backyard.
    stays about 35-40 degrees in there all winter.

    If you dont mind the risk, I say give the outdoor dormancy a try!
    just realize it IS a risk, and your plants might die.
    but with big pots buried in the bog, and a heavy layer of leaves for insulation, you might be able to pull it off!

    Put a wire fence around the outer edge of the bog, and just fill it up to the brim with leaves..

    Scot

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    Doing it wrong until I do it right. xvart's Avatar
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    Anything is possible! Read through this thread about dom123's bog garden that he has in Canada and how he winters his plants.

    xvart.
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    "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?"

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    Thanks for the advice. I know it's difficult, but I've read of others doing it so I figured there must be a way. Our winters are much milder than yours from what I hear, so hopefully this will go well. I can go out and look at buying a bag of bark/mulch soon; is there a specific kind I should get?

    I tried wintering my dormancy plants indoor last year and they died. I just couldn't get the room I was using cold enough, and the lack of air circulation left a perfect humid environment for fungus. The garage gets no light so I don't think it would work either.



    the D. capensis doesnt need dormancy..winter would probably kill it.
    you should take that one out and keep it indoors all winter.
    You sound just like my cat! Though he's usually licking his lips when he says it...

    I know I couldn't fit them all inside, but I'm sure I can find a safe place for at least one.

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    RL7836's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by scottychaos View Post
    If you want to try to keep them outdoors, from what I have read they key is DEEP and heavy mulching! I would put a 3-foot deep layer of leaves over the bog! (Red or Black Oak leaves are good if you have them, because the sharp edges keep the leaves from compacting and keep lots of air spaces open) but failing that, any leaves should work ok. Pine needles would be good too.
    [snip / snip]
    Put a wire fence around the outer edge of the bog, and just fill it up to the brim with leaves..
    I would strongly recommend against using leaves of any sort. By spring they compact down to a wet, impervious, anaerobic mass. IME, this mass smothers the live, hibernating plants and creates dead mush. (If there are folks who have successfully used this approach, please share your experiences). I have heard that straw or pine needles provide a better cover.

    During the years that I maintained an outdoor bog here in NJ (zone 6A), I always had some losses. Most of the Sarrs came thru ok but it wasn't the average that mattered. Let's say I had 10 S. rubra & 10 S. leucophylla and 1 S. flava 'atropurpurea'. The atro would die & the others would be fine. For whatever reason, VFTs never consistently survived. I know others have had much better success. My takeaway was to keep only the plants I could spare out in the bog over winter. D. filiformis, D. rotundifolia & S. purpurea purpurea always survived.

    Based on my experiences, I now overwinter my Sarrs in the garage (freeze solid most years - not optimal at all) and VFT's in the basement under lights (~40-60*F).
    All the best,
    Ron
    You must do the thing you think you cannot do. --- Eleanor Roosevelt

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    Aklys joossa's Avatar
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    Check THIS out...
    -Joel from Southern California


  7. #7
    Metal King
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    Yep, pine needles will do the trick, this from a Canuck (tho I live in the only part of Canada that supports Carolinian forest, which makes it a little less harsh than what Dom puts up with in Quebec)

    You want the needles to be at LEAST 8" deep. A Friend of mine uses a very porous plastic mesh (like that "construction fencing style stuff), which he covers the bog with, then tosses the needles on- this makes removal much easier. Also do NOT give in to the temptation to remove the coverings prematurely, wait until ALL danger of hard frost is gone, and Ideally wait til the temps are staying above 5 degrees celcius (which is what, 40 F or so)

    The plants you list should be fine. The D.capensis WILL die if you leave it out, and you D. filiformis- make SURE it's D.filiformis ssp filiformis and NOT tracyii or "California Sunset" or anything like that- those will likely NOT survive- again, that from experience

    Good luck!!
    Da Growlist

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    I appreciate all the advice; thanks.

    Not to ask a stupid question, but where would one get pine needles from?

    Also, any advice on when to bring the Capensis in? Nights are in the low 50s right now, but should be warming up a bit next week. Anything I should watch out for when bringing an outdoor plant into the house (like bugs or pests)?

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