As winter begins to focus in our rear-view mirror, you’ll start to see your garden change. If you have tender summer-flowering plants in your garden, it's time to start thinking about whether to lift and store them or protect them from the harsh clutches of winter.
The decision on whether to lift or leave your tender plants will, of course, depend on what type of plant it is!
For example, these plants are best lifted and stored over winter and planted back outside in spring:
If you live in an area that gets very mild winters, and you don’t expect an average or extreme amount of frost, then you possibly could get away with leaving them in the ground. However, it’s best to protect them with a thick layer of mulch over winter.
When to Lift Tender Plants
Tender perennial plants can be lifted before the first frost – this can be as early as September or later in the autumn season, like November. Keep an eye on the weather forecast in the run-up to winter to make sure you don’t get caught out.
If you decide to keep your plants in the ground, then they will need protection adding in mid-to-late autumn (September or November) - before the first frost of the season. If it’s forecast to be cold but not necessarily frosty, we recommend adding mulch to tender plants anyway, just in case!
How to Lift & Store Tender Plants
Lifting tender plants is a simple enough task, just take care not to damage any of the roots while trying to prise it from the ground. Here’s a guide to help you.
1. Wait until the plant has died down and has reached a straw colour (often brown).
2. Cut down the plant to the bottom of the stem and dig up the tuber gently. Shake off any remaining soil.
3. Cut off tubers if damaged, but otherwise leave them intact.
4. Keep them in a cool, dark, dry place, preferably in a dry box or container. If it gets particularly cold, you can cover them with garden fleece or layers of newspaper.
5. From March to May, start the potting process once again before popping them outside.
Want to know how to care for your favourite tender perennials? We have growing guides to help you care for these plants – from pre-planting to regular upkeep! Visit our Dahlia Growing Guide, Begonia Growing Guide, and our Gladioli Growing Guide for more planting information.