Garden Photo of the Day

Non-Hardy Container Plants

"Reusing” annuals by overwintering them

Lilian Ho’s garden is a great example of “reusing” annuals by overwintering them each year instead of buying new ones. It is a great way to save money… or (if you are like me) to have more money to spend on other plants.

She writes, “My container plants are all non-hardy plants, mainly begonias, fuchsias, pelargoniums and few Eucomis (pineapple lily) that all need winter protections. Most of the begonias are grown from seeds and some from tuber. I cut the begonias, fuchsias and Eucomis down in November and store them in the garage while I take cuttings from the pelargoniums in the fall and grow them indoors over the winter.”

I’ll also mention that most of these beautiful plants really need cool summer temperatures to look their best. So all of you northerns suffering through a deep freeze, this is your reward! This summer, load up on tuberous begonias and fuchsias and make your southern neighbors jealous!

Huge, delicately patterned flowers on begonia ‘Rose Picotte’.

A three year old plant grown from the Non-Stop tuberous begonia seed strain.

Fuschias ‘Swing Time’ and ‘Southgate’ blooming together in a hanging basket.

Pelargoniums ‘Mona Lisa’ and ‘Longshot’ with Origanum ‘Amethyst Falls’ (ornamental oregano, zones 5 – 9).

A mix of Eucomis varieties blooming together.

Have a garden you'd like to share? Email 5-10 high-resolution photos (there is no need to reduce photo sizing before sending—simply point, shoot and send the photos our way) and a brief story about your garden to [email protected]. Please include where you're located!

Sending photos in separate emails to the GPOD email box is just fine.

Have a mobile phone? Tag your photos on Instagram or Twitter with #FineGardening!

You don't have to be a professional garden photographer – check out our garden photography tips!

Do you receive the GPOD by email yet? Sign up here.


Follow us: @finegardening on Twitter | FineGardeningMagazine on Facebook | @finegardening on Instagram

View Comments


  1. frankgreenhalgh 01/11/2018

    Hey Lilian - Lovely to see your post today. Congratulations on your really nice innovation and work. All the container plants you have presented look great, but for me, the fuschias take the cake (have you heard that expression?). Stay warm and enjoy your indoor horticultural activities. Cheers from Oz

    1. user-6536305 01/12/2018

      My best guess at "the fuschias take the cake" = you like the fuschias the best? I have not heard this expression before.
      Thanks for your comments! You and Jess are so funny and made my day!

  2. tennisluv 01/11/2018

    Morn, Lilian. All your containers stocked with begonias, fuchsias, pelargoniums and Eucomis are gorgeous. Such joyous colors. Never thought of using Origanum‘Amethyst Falls’ as a filler/spiller, but what a great idea. Your cool temp combinations have definitely made this southerner jealous.

  3. User avater
    meander_michaele 01/11/2018

    Did you hear that little "yelp" from my stab of plant envy, Lilian? Your container groupings look glorious and that 3 year old begonia is such a star. Oh, my gosh, the maternal pride you must feel from starting such a beauty from seed. Your color choices for your wood backdrop structures shown in the last picture are perfect for the festival feeling of the showy flowers.

    1. user-7008735 01/11/2018

      Michaele, it's a good thing those stabs of plant envy don't cause any bleeding or we'd all be anemic here in GPOD-land! Lilian is very talented at growing plants from seed or cuttings.

    2. user-6536305 01/12/2018

      Don't be envy at PNW growing conditions. We get all the mild weather and humidity this in turn is a plant disease heaven or pest heaven. Thanks for your comments!

  4. sandyprowse 01/11/2018

    A most stunning show of colour. What gorgeous flowers to gaze it on this most miserable morning in Toronto Canada. ?? I am wondering where you live. I wish that would be posted on a map to enable me to see immediately the zone the gardeners live in. I will try your plan, I was interested to note you start the beautiful begonias from seed. Thank you for sharing these beauties with us.

    1. user-6536305 01/12/2018

      I am in Vancouver BC and zone 7. Hello Sandy in Toronto Canada yeh! In order to have big bloom on begonias, the female flower buds need to be dead headed as soon as they appear so the energy goes to bloom (male flowers - Sorry this is not politically correct.)

      1. sandyprowse 01/12/2018

        Ok. Great. Thanks for your reply Lillian. Question is how do I know a boy from a girl flower bud?!??

        1. user-6536305 01/12/2018

          Hello Sandy, female bud has a triangle at the bottom of the bud while male has non. If you let female bud fully open, they are single flowers. All the photos of begonias in this post are male flowers. Photos from top down:
          - female flowers
          - a cut away view of a female bud
          - a male bud
          - a female bud

          1. sandyprowse 01/13/2018

            Thanks kindly! I'll save this comment. Very helpful Lillian.

  5. NCYarden 01/11/2018

    Whoooooa. I don't know that I've ever seen such bodacious Begonia blooms. My goodness, Lilian...there's a secret you didn't reveal in your narrative, right? Just extraordinarily beautiful. I love the Fuchsia mix...I tried overwintering one before but not very successfully, but I may just have to try again. Thanks for sharing these delightful photos.

  6. user-3565112 01/11/2018

    Good morning Ms. Ho, thank you for your beautiful & timely post this morning. I am attempting to overwinter my daughter's Jasmine & Fuscia in my enclosed unheated front porch.This is south facing,warm on sunny days, in zone 7 central Md.. My questions, how often do you water & do you fertilize while stored ?
    Thank you & good luck, Joe

    1. user-6536305 01/12/2018

      I do nothing until spring on begonias. I will say I almost do nothing on fuchsia as well but occasionally, I give them a little water if I remember (high likely I don't remember.) Bigger pots help. I grow begonias one plant in 2 gal pot and 2 plants on a large hanging basket (10-12 in diameter)

  7. Chris_N 01/11/2018

    Wonderful plants, Lillian. The begonia 'Rose Picotte' is a real show stopper. I've never had great luck with fuchsias despite being a "northern" as Joseph put it. Yours look so lush. I've had non-stops before but never thought of overwintering them. It's great that you grew yours from seed.

    1. User avater
      LindaonWhidbey 01/11/2018

      Chris, we never had luck with fuchsias in southern WI, either, but they sure love the PNW summers which are much cooler. There are also quite a few hardy ones that do well. We sure miss those warm summer nights, though.

      1. User avater
        gringopeligroso 01/11/2018

        Linda & Chris!
        I LOVE Fuschias..but they HATE our Sunbelt heat. Unfortunately, that leaves me with only 3 options.
        1.) Give up, pendeho! .....well, that AIN'T gonna happen.
        2.) Purchase and grow them as very expensive seasonal colour.
        Well, that DOES happen, but then I also get Poinsettias on the opposite side of the calendar. I just don't go or two (OK: three.)
        3.) I've been conducting some very un-scientific studies on the varieties (of those offered in this market area,) heat tolerances. (Seems most of us are pushing the Zone envelope one way or t'other!)
        While extremely envious of the West Coast and New England gardeners who can pick and enjoy a wide variety of varieties, I'm limited, but will offer what I've found out:
        1.) #1 Killer of Fuschias in North America is overwatering. IF your hummer magnets are drooping in mid day heat, let them. That's what they do in the wilde. IF, your baskets/containers are still drooping at sunset, then give them a drink, and they should be perked up by mornin'. A couple of other points: here in the South, offer Morning Sun or Dappled Shade only. With Climate Change, (sorry Donald...the Earth is NOT flat...) even those North of us may have to compensate and offer a bit more protection.
        Fuschias love to be fed, (just like me!) and they thrive on Fish Emulsion. An olde and experienced Japanese wholesale grower shared that point with me....there's something about that stinky stuff that works for them better than the laboratory borne products.
        2.) A couple or three points on selection: I don't know about the rest of the market areas around the continent and what y'all are seeing offered in y'all's neck of the woods, but over here Fuschia x 'Dark Eyes' is sold by the truck loads in hanging baskets. Many places offer only this variety...and it's GORRR_Jous!!!! in spring. By June, it's melting. IF you want that beautiful colour and presentation, see if "Dollar Princess" is offered. Same colours, smaller flowers but more of them....and, they'll live a bit longer into our 90° + Summers...if you don't over water them. I've sometimes had this variety make it through summer and offer an Autumnal Reprisal for the hummers heading South. sometimes......
        A more sure bet, but in an entirely different presentation is the heirloom Fuschia 'Gartenmeister Bondstedt' This F. tryphilla hyb. from the 1800's does hold up well in most of our hot seasons. While looking best in the Spring and Early Summer, it typically becomes be-draggled by the Dog Days, but they still are hanging in there! Again, Autumn revives them!

        And, to over-winter them, I cut back severely on the watering, and NO fertilizer, basically treating them like a succulent. Most winters, they bounce back the following spring after re-climatization to the out of doors. I don't even try to keep leaves on them and if I am looking at sticks all winter, so be it....just as long as they're "green and pliable" sticks!!

        Another variety I found a couple of summers ago also holds promise but mercy is it hard to find. The original store in which I discovered this head turner no longer offers them....the chief grower said it doesn't have the "grace" and presentation of what traditional fuschia's "should" look like. ...ok....BUT< I hung my one trial basket in the branches of a mimosa tree, and it bloomed ALL Summer, every bit of Autumn and was still in bloom when whisked inside before the first frost. Unfortunately, I didn't overwinter that one very well, at all.

        Fuschia x 'Eruption' is this one's name. It slowed down a little for July and August, but never entirely "sulked". (Read: Heat Tolerant!)

        And, finally, I've had excellent luck with a more traditional Fuschia which goes by the name of F. 'Angel Earrings Cascade.' Tiny bi-coloured single flowers which the hummers love, and altho this one looks quite be-draggled in mid summer, it DOES live thru them. (which for here is remarkable in itself.) Mostly, however it's just as easy to overwinter as the heirloom mentioned above. Unfortunately, I don't have any pix from our garden of this one to share, and I will be trying a couple (ok: three) of the others from this series to see if'n they are equally tolerant...of both the weather and me!!! Hope this helps! jesse

        1. user-7008735 01/12/2018

          Hey, Jesse's back! I've missed your lively writing, Jesse.

          Your photos are lovely, too: I can see why you'd want to overwinter these varieties and keep them going. You know, even in Vancouver, my wall basket of begonias is under an overhang and protected from direct sun by a large Rhododendron in front and a Mahonia on the side.

          1. User avater
            gringopeligroso 01/12/2018

            Ahh, Bless your Heart!! (and I mean that!)

            You had me at "Mahonia!!" (SO cool!!)
            "And, the times, they are a changin'" so sung a poet a while back.
            There are many things which I used to grow in full sun last century, but if'n I tried that now-a-days, they'ld fry.

            Ain't really been away, but like many here, have been incredibly busy. I was tryin' to get all caught up before the new season begins....ooops....toooo late!!! Still: Can't quit now!!
            The lights are on in the greenhouse and my playlist is gently rockin' the heated airwaves. There's a few candles offering an inviting glow (you know how I love candles!!) and the greenhouse/barnyard kittens are curled up in their baskets.

            All tucked in and waiting to go out to play, again.... uh, both bromes and kittens!!

            I've got the rest of the Foxgloves to transplant, and then there's a bunch of perennial Candytuft which I almost forgot! If time, I need to knock out a couple, (or three) macrame hangars before I shut the lights out and call it a day, as it were! I found a nice trio of variegated Hedera (English Ivy) baskets which I want to grow out over the approaching season for use next Holidays! They say we're going to celebrate them again!! (Sooner than we realize, I'm sure!!)

            AND, just remembered today's unofficial theme of Begonias, Lilian reminded me that I've got a couple of B. boliviensis which I rescued from the garden before the first freeze. They've been forgiving and good thing they thrive upon forget-fullness. But, even their patience is not unlimited! Gotta pot them up and move them down to the dry/succulent section of the greenhouse. They LOVE those conditions!...well, at least in winter!!
            Take Care, Sweet One, and hope you're warm! Down to the lower teens for us tonight!!

          2. user-6536305 01/12/2018

            Both of your bromes and kittens look very content... being really take care of!

        2. frankgreenhalgh 01/12/2018

          G'day Jesse 'olde son' - glad you are still kicking! I was getting a bit worried. Obviously the comments of an observant horticulturalist. Great contribution. Cheers from Oz

          1. User avater
            gringopeligroso 01/12/2018

            Ahh, shucks! AH luv You, Man!!!
            (Please say that in your best Southern Redneck drawl with a low, gravely voice!!)
            No worries, my friend, but appreciate the thought..just very busy.
            Love the glimpses of Summer you've been slipping us! Just make sure to return that season to us when y'all are finished with it!!
            And, Thanks, Mate!!

          2. frankgreenhalgh 01/12/2018

            Just for you, Jesse - native donkey orchid. No hidden message there, you olde fox.

          3. User avater
            gringopeligroso 01/12/2018

            I"M IN LOVE!!!!

          4. user-6536305 01/12/2018

            Another odd looking beauty Frank! Thanks for sharing!

        3. user-6536305 01/12/2018

          Well Jess, you are alive and bounce! wow, that Fuschia x 'Eruption'... I am on my quest...
          Wow, lovely photos of your container plants and may you should submit yours soon.
          I totally agree with you that Fuschia x 'Dark Eyes' and "Dollar Princess" are great Fuschias.
          Fuschias need to be trimmed to have a good shape (like me) and just plant the the ones you pruned down in a 4"pot in growing media and they are very easy to be propagated with stems. By fall, you could have very nice looking Fuschias.
          Thanks Jess for such a detailed writing on grow and care for Fuschias. Thanks for sharing!

      2. user-6536305 01/12/2018

        Fuchsia 'Beacon' is hardy in PNW with the largest flower that I could find (the rest of hardy Fuchsia have smaller blooms.)

    2. user-6536305 01/12/2018

      fuchsias look very dead, no leaf and just a bunch of trigs when they come out of my garage. I prune it and if the stem shows green, it is alive and I water them. It is until middle July they start to look good..... need patients........

  8. sheila_schultz 01/11/2018

    You certainly have the magic touch, Lilian. Growing your begonias from seed or tuber??? I'm so impressed, and add me to the list of those in awe of your fuchsia. It's a beauty!

  9. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 01/11/2018

    Lilian, your annual choices are stunning. I've never had good luck with tuberous begonias and perhaps it's just a bit too hot in my summers. Those are some healthy plants!

  10. User avater
    LindaonWhidbey 01/11/2018

    Good morning, Lilian. What a treat to wake to your beautiful floral displays. We’re pretty lucky in our climate to be able to overwinter so many annuals but you have done an exceptional job. That tuberous begonia is outstanding as is your fuchsia. We’ve never had much luck with origanum but may try growing it in a pot as it is such pretty foliage. Thanks for sharing.

  11. mhebb 01/11/2018

    Hi, Lilian. I'm an avid container gardener like you and I do the same thing. I just can't bear to lose those precious tuberous begonias and I hate having to purchase new treasured annuals every year. So I find ways to keep them going even if that means storing pots away in boxes in our basement. Congrats for being such a frugal gardener and thanks for sharing your stunning. containers.

  12. anitaberlanga 01/11/2018

    I (literally) fell over an ornamental oregano in Kroger, of all places, and immediately fell in love! I didn't think to overwinter it but definitely will do so with my next plant! Your containers (and your color schemes) are fabulous! Thanks for sharing!

    1. user-6536305 01/12/2018

      Thanks for your comments! I don't have a color schemes. I just like colors, hot color and I just put hot colors together.

  13. foxglove12 01/11/2018

    A beautiful reward for your efforts. Well done!

  14. user-4691082 01/11/2018

    Wow, Lillian. I wonder what I did wrong...

  15. LaurelEm 01/11/2018

    I tried my first tuberous begonias this past summer and I did save the tuber. Mine was red and just the buds were scary big and the flowers were behemoth! I also had my first pineapple lilies, but even though the greenery was nice and healthy, they never got around to blooming. I kept the bulbs, hoping they might bloom in the second year.
    I love your photos!

    1. user-6536305 01/12/2018

      I totally agree with you Laurie that pineapple lilies foliage alone is very pretty to look at. I got my from a master gardener friend and she insisted that I should have it and it bloomed in the first year. I cut the leave down in fall and take the entire pot in the garage and add Seasoils and fertilizer as usual, they bloomed second year and 3rd. The bloom last very long and the seed head is good to look at too.

  16. user-7008735 01/11/2018

    Beautiful photos of beautiful flowers, Lilian! I have some begonias in a wall basket that I started from tubers and have kept going for 3 years by just putting the whole basket in our unheated garage over the winter. I ignore them all winter and then start to water sparingly (and sporadically, if truth be told) in the spring. When the new growth shows above the soil, I hang the basket back on the wall outside and they pop out the most beautiful coral flowers all summer long and into the fall (though they look more pink than coral in my photo below).

    I've grown culinary oregano for years, but just discovered Origanum 'Kent Beauty' in England two summers ago. Of course, I had to track it down and now have it growing in the ground and in a large pot, so I'm interested to see how it overwinters. It already has new growth sprouting from the ground, so I'm optimistic but will withhold my final assessment till we see how it handles the wet spring. Did you bring your Origanum 'Amethyst Falls' inside for the winter, Lilian?

    1. frankgreenhalgh 01/11/2018

      Lovely begonia, Lorraine.

      1. user-7008735 01/11/2018

        Thanks, Frank.

    2. User avater
      meander_michaele 01/11/2018

      Your pictured begonia has such pretty stems and leaves as well as the flowers, Lorraine. Planting them in a moveable container that can be over wintered certainly seems like a smart thing to do

      1. user-7008735 01/12/2018

        Thank you, Michaele. The container is a wire-frame basket lined with moss, so it is very light weight. Moving it in and out of the garage is the easiest gardening to do (though the only window is on my "husband's side" of our double garage, so I do have to contend with a little attitude sometimes as he would really prefer to have the space than "all this junk in here"). On the whole, he accepts that I am a plant geek and loves me anyway.

        1. darylsavage 01/12/2018

          That is funny. I overwinter some plants in my husband's garage also,and he gives me grief about them taking up space. Ah, marriage!

          1. user-6536305 01/12/2018

            My husband threaten to run away. "one more plant, I would run away. It is like live in a jungle.!"

    3. Tana40 01/12/2018

      Lilian and Lorraine, I envy your begonias as I've loved them for years but have finally decided to give up on them. Once upon a time I had Origanum " Kent Beauty". It lived outside in the summer and in the fall I moved the pot inside and kept it in an east window, watered it regularly...just treated it like a house plant. I had it for at least 3 years. Someone forgot to water it on one of my wintering vacations and it died. I still do have some of the dried flowers in a bouquet that looks rather 'other worldly'. I'm seriously considering replacing it as I did love it.

      1. user-7008735 01/12/2018

        Hi Sandy, Lilian's post has certainly sparked an interesting discussion. I had no idea that begonias were difficult to grow in other areas -- though it makes sense as plants all have their preferences for where they will thrive. I vote that you buy the next 'Kent Beauty' that you can find. It's good for us to be surrounded by the plants we love!

    4. user-6536305 01/12/2018

      Thanks for your help to answer all questions for me and better than I could do. Origanum 'Amethyst Falls' is hardy in Vancouver and would survive the winter on a raise bed. They are cheap to buy and Southland Nursery. I actually don't get seriously about them. Need some shear in early spring.
      Beautiful begonia. Begonia could be propagated by cuttings, just plant the break ones in a 4" pot with growing media and and by fall they look great.

  17. user-6536305 01/12/2018

    Thanks all for the comments. Basically I do what exactly Lorraine does by "putting the whole basket in our unheated garage over the winter. I ignore them all winter and then start to water sparingly." Thanks Lorraine for answered all the questions for me and better than I will do. The overwinter survive rate is bigger than 80%. Every spring I add some Sea Soil.

  18. cheryl_c 01/12/2018

    Hi, Lilian,
    I'm late getting to this today but did want to add my admiration for your growing abilities! The begonias are beautiful - remind me of when my mom grew what she called 'double begonias' outside her kitchen door in Cincinnati. I've tried, and resigned myself to the fact there are just some things she did that I can't. Never thought it might be our summers - tho summers in Cincinnati are pretty hot and humid also! Thanks so much for sharing your beautiful photos and growing hints.

  19. user-6536305 01/12/2018

    The following photos showed begonia seedlings. They are very cute. I did it on a north side window silt with a seedling tray from Lee Valley with a heating pad and sown the seeds in Feb. The only skill is patience.

  20. user-6536305 01/12/2018

    Thanks Diane for your comments. Fuchsia is like hostas and they like shade. If you have a spot in the garden to grow hostas, just put an elevated pot around hostas.

  21. User avater
    treasuresmom 01/12/2018

    I remember as a child many women (including my mom & grandmother) brought some begonias & geraniums in to the house for the winter. They would bloom like crazy.

    1. user-6536305 01/12/2018

      I did not know that begonias could be brought inside for winter. I thought they need a rest in winter. Will try next winter. Thanks!

Log in or create an account to post a comment.

Related Articles

The Latest