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Northeast Regional Reports

Overwintering Tender Perennials and Tropicals

Extend the life of your plants by bringing them indoors for the winter

Temperate-zone plants, including marginally hardy ‘Toffee Twist’ sedge (Carex flagellifera ‘Toffee Twist’, Zones 7–10), ‘Wendy’s Wish’ salvia (Salvia ‘Wendy’s Wish’, Zones 9–11), gardenia, succulents, and scented geraniums spend winter in my barely heated entry porch, which I call “the plantry.” Photo: Kristin Green

Cold-climate gardeners are faced with a choice at winter’s outset: quit gardening until spring, or bring some plants inside and garden on. I recommend the latter. For one thing, tender perennials and tropicals, often sold as annuals, will live on for seasons to come given the right cultural conditions. Overwintering them—and propagating them—stretches your garden budget. A houseful of plants also improves air quality, humidity levels, and our outlook during long cold winters as we stay physically in touch with the garden.

tidying a Boston fern
Tidying a Boston fern before moving it back into the living room. Photo: Kristin Green

Plants such as rhizomatous begonias (Begonia spp. and cvs., Zones 6–12), citrus (Citrus spp. and cvs., Zones 9–11), ornamental figs (Ficus spp. and cvs., Zones 10–12), and some ferns such as Boston fern (Nephrolepsis exaltata ‘Tiger Fern’, Zones 9–11), bear’s paw fern (Phlebodium aureum ‘Mandaianum’, Zones 9–11), and rabbit’s foot…

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