Overwintering Tender Plants: Lifting or Mulching


Tender plants can be lifted and stored in a dormant state, or it can be protected with a covering of organic matter. But, the decision of whether to lift and store them or leave them outside under mulch depends on the local climate and plant.

Tender herbaceous perennials that can be lifted and stored include gladioli, begonias, dahlias and cannas. All these plants have rhizomes, corms and fleshy tubers which can survive in a dormant state when lifted and stored. Once these plants grow properly, you can get these flowers delivered to a local florist around you.

In well-dried, sheltered parts of the garden, it may be possible to cut the tops of tender plants, leave them in the grounds and cover them with mulch to protect them over winter.

flowers delivered

When to Protect Tender Plants

The tender plants generally need protection at the first warning of frost, between September and November. Different kind of specific cultivation techniques are also used to protect plants from winter damage. This all starts from mid-summer onwards.

How to Protect Tender Plants

Cannas, pelargoniums and dahlias can be lifted and stored in a semi-dormant state over winter. When lift-and-store is not necessary, then plants are usually covered by thick and dry mulch for the winter protection.

Lifting Plants


They are to be lifted after the foliage has been blackened by frost.

  • Cut back the stems 2 inches from the base.
  • Use a fork to pull the plant out of the soil with taking care of not damaging roots.
  • Remove debris and loose soil.
  • Store it in tray of sand or vermiculite with the crown of plant.
  • Keep it moist in a cold, frost-free green house.


They are also to be lifted once the foliage has been blackened by the first frost.

  • Cut off the old stems 2 inches from base and trim the thin roots.
  • Use fork to pull the plant out from the soil with taking care of not to damage.
  • Remove the soil with hand from the tubers. And, position them upside down in a cool place.
  • Take trays or wooden boxes filled with dry sand and bury them inside leaving only old flower stalks exposed.
  • Place these trays or wooden boxes in a cool but frost free place.


Begonia tubers can also be lifted and stored the same way the Dahlias.

Protecting Plants With Mulch

when lifting and storing is not necessary, a thick and dry mulch can be used for protection. In mild areas, dahlias and cannas can be overwintered like this. As also can the dediduous Agapanthus and globe artichokes. The young shoots of lilies too be mulched from the late spring frosts. The suitable mulching materials are straw, garden compost, well-rooted manure or the chipped bark.

Tender Plants Which Cannot Be Lifted and Stored

These kind of plants need to be wrapped and protected in situ. Winter wrapping is required for tender plants like tree ferns and bananas.

Wrapping Plants

Materials such as bracken, straw, fleece and polystyrene can be used to protect from wind or cold. To prevent sweating, protective covers should be removed when it’s a period of mild weather and replaced as necessary if the weather becomes cold again.

Final Thoughts

Overwinter your plants in big pots like 3 liters or above so that they can grow into a decent size. Then whatever is flowering in the beginning of summer can perform until the end of June.

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