Ornamental grasses can be really challenging to over winter in pots. If you cover the pots with white plastic like I show here that helps a great deal because it keeps them dry so they don’t rot. But uncovered, they don’t do well in pots over the winter here in the north.
So this year I decided to pull them from the pots and heel them in a bed alongside one of our container areas. Basically we just slipped them out of the pots, heeled them in the bed root ball to root ball and filled around them with potting soil. This will allow them to stay moist enough, but not too wet over the winter.
If you look closely to the left of the photo you can see a bed of sand that is now Full of Hardwood Cuttings that will Root over the Winter. Yes, uncovered, covered with snow, ice in freezing weather and they still root.
The reason that ornamental grasses don’t do well in pots over the winter is because the soil in the container freezes, then water sits on top of the container and slowly seeps int the soil rotting the crowns of the grasses. By pulling them out of the container we will hopefully eliminate the problem.
You can’t see it in these photos but not only did we tag these plants aluminum tags that cannot fade but we also have boards between the varieties so come spring there will be no question about what is what.
Never, ever, ever use permanent markers to tag your plants!
Not only do they fade, the writing becomes completely invisible! Know what works better? A #2 pencil!
Better than that? A #3 pencil. I just ordered some #3’s from Amazon.
Come spring when we pull these grasses out of this bed we will divide them and multiply our inventory exponentially. That’s what’s awesome about this business!
Since I am just now getting around to doing this post on December 18th, I decided to throw in some winter photos of the nursery. When I arrived at the nursery yesterday everything was snow covered and beautiful! Enjoy!
Mario Cascio says
Hey Mike. Do you think storing the pots differently, say at an angle, would solve the problem?
I’m wondering if they were tilted 30 degrees or so, any water would run along the edge of the pot.
You could even lay them down, really wouldn’t do any harm. At least that would keep them from collecting standing water.
I would like to know more about ornamental grasses, what kind and who has some for sale.
There are more than 60 different kinds of ornamental grasses and this just come up in the members area a couple of days ago. Typically we see them for sale in the members area for around one dollar to $1.50 each in the spring. The members area is closed now, should open back up again in late March. http://backyardgrowers.com/join
Angie Carter says
I checked in through January to try to join, but it didn’t seem like it opened up again (or maybe I just have really bad timing!!). Is there a certain time of day it officially opens for joining on March 20? I want to be sure I get a spot this round!!!! Thank you SO much for any info!
Membership, http://backyardgrowers.com/join, was open for about a week or more in January and it is likely to be open for a week or so starting early in the day on March 20th.
Thank you so much!!!
Looking forward to it!
Ryan D says
Would covering pots with plastic apply to more then just grasses? My main pots i move into an unheated garage, but still lots of pots left around the yard here in Michigan. thanks!
All big growers cover almost every single container plant in their nurseries. Many around here have thousands of covered hoop houses. Really large hoop houses. Covering is the ideal situation. https://mikesbackyardnursery.com/2013/11/over-wintering-protecting-plants-for-the-winter/
Jeraldine Ferguson says
Thanks for all of the tips. They are always helpful.
Anita Roselle says
MIKE, I WANT TO SUPPORT YOUR STATEMENT THAT #2 & #3 PENCIL IS THE BEST FOR LABELS. I learned that from my orchid growing friends, have tried to get my horticulturists colleagues to use pencil but few of them try it. I have been using pencil for over 20 years, I propagate a lot of plants, both to sell and plant in my garden. Every now and then I will dig up a label that has been out in the garden for more than 10 years and am still able to read it, the sun does not fade it. There is no ink pen that can equal it.
Thank you for sharing the value of pencils in labeling. I’m getting ready to do a post and a video about this very thing.
Mike Burns says
Mike, thanks so much for the info! If I had gotten this 2 years ago, I could have saved over 1000 grasses, including some very nice black mondo grass. Keep us up to date this spring and let us know how successful this method is.
Thank you from Canada for the info on overwintering grasses.
At least you got snow. I don’t know what my flowers are going to be like this spring. We did not get any covering snow. Just the last week we had below zero temps. I just redid my flowers and made new areas for them.
Glenda Hurd says
I tried 3x to comment for the shears but kept getting it needed ‘moderation’…shared it on facebook as asked…enjoy your newsletters n move them to a saved file. fwd to brother, sister and friend also lots of times…thx….GH
Larry Grounds says
thanks for the info. and pics I’ve learned much from your site and merry Christmas.