Garden Photo of the Day

Helaine’s Connecticut Garden

Overwintering annuals for years of beauty

close up of begonia with red flowers in a urn container

Today we’re visiting with Helaine McDermott from western Connecticut.

close up of pink and white flowers in the gardenPink hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens, Zones 3–9) blooms behind a big clump of bear’s breeches (Acanthus mollis, Zones 6–9).

close up of variegated Japanese forest grassA beautiful clump of variegated Japanese forest grass (Hakonechloa macra, Zones 5–9)

close up of begonia with red flowers in a urn containerBegonia ‘Bonfire’ (Zones 9–11)i is usually grown as an annual, but Helaine has had this plant for eight years now. Each fall, she just puts it in the garage before the first frost and lets it go dormant, giving it no water during the winter. In spring she takes it out and waters it again, and it comes back into growth.

close up of begonia with pink flowers in a containerThis begonia gets the same treatment—dry in the garage all winter—and also overwinters just great.

close up of purple heart plantAnd, again, this purple heart (Tradescantia pallida, Zones 7–10) spends the winter in the garage. Many plants grown as annuals or tropicals in northern climates can be overwintered dry and cool in a garage or basement. Not all will survive that way, but if you have one you love that looks good before frost, it is worth giving it a try and seeing if you can get another year of growth out of it.


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  1. bunny2luv 09/06/2023

    Hi, Helaine!

    What gorgeous begonias! What growing zone do you live in? I live in north-central MA, zone 5b/6a (the line goes through my town!).
    My garage gets almost as cold as outdoors. I may try overwintering fuchsias this year in the garage, fingers crossed.
    Your garden is gorgeous!
    Warmest wishes, Bunny

  2. btucker9675 09/06/2023

    That Bonfire begonia is just spectacular!!!

  3. User avater
    simplesue 09/06/2023

    Interesting story how you overwintered your amazing Begonia ‘Bonfire’. And your variegated Japanese forest grass is doing beautifully.

  4. user-3020904 09/06/2023

    Great idea for the begonias. I hate losing them every fall and having to start over the next year. I have done the same thing with Cannas. I dig them up, put them in pots with their dirt and leave them to dry out in the garage for the winter. They do great. I'm going to try some other plants - what have I got to lose?

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