Frost Tender Plants in Winter
We use our house, a pit greenhouse and a greenhouse built on to the back of the workshop as winter housing for the tender plants we have had outside all of the gardening season. We use an old dolly to move many of the heavier pots. Before storing the plants for winter we clean them up and sometimes trim them before placing them indoors. We also cull unwanted plants.
Several pots of clivias over-winter in our front porch. The little porch has windows on three sides and is heated from within the house. Other pots of clivias are put in the living room and in the greenroom.
Clivias take up a lot of house space with their long strappy leaves, but when there is splash of bright orange in mid- and late winter we are so pleased to have them.
On the south side of our house we have a solarium, which we call the Green Room. There is an area which is a real garden with bamboo plants, jasmine, a Norfolk pine, nandinas and a couple of clivias doing well there, permanently. This is a cozy place to read in the winter sunshine.
Most of the big potted palms and ferns over winter in this room. We also store begonias, tender cactus and ginger plants in here. Each year the positioning of the plants changes as they grow bigger.
We have found we can move the plants from the kitchen porch door through to the green room quite easily by placing the pots of a low plant stand with wheels. Some of the prickly palms we wrap in old sheets so they are a more manageable shape to take through the house.
In the summer the greenhouse behind the workshop is empty of plants. We use the south facing garden outside the greenhouse to display potted succulents and cactus plants.
In winter this greenhouse makes the most of its southern exposure, soaking up heat from the winter and early spring sunshine. It is heated with a woodstove which Bill keeps going through the coldest periods. Part of the large cage for Bill’s collection of finches and canaries extends into this greenhouse.
This greenhouse is really packed full. The succulents and cactus plants get front row seats for the winter sunshine. As the agaves and cactuses grow larger and larger, it is less comfortable moving them in and out of the greenhouse.
Further away from the windows Bill stores all the large pots of shrubby oleanders. Summer flowering bulbs are stored in pots here. Our lemon tree sits on top of the concrete heat sink
over the stove. Lots of potted geraniums also squeeze in.
Bill built a Victorian styled pit greenhouse some years ago. There’s a door to lift to get access to the greenhouse at the west end of the building. Steps lead you down into the greenhouse. The walls are made of poured concrete.
The floor is four feet below the ground surface. It's covered in a layer of crushed gravel. He used recycled glass for the windows and recycled timber from hydro poles for the structure.
Once the greenhouse is filled for the winter we do not go into the greenhouse again until early spring. The ambient heat from the earth warms the greenhouse through the winter. Although there is a woodstove in the greenhouse it has never been used!
A thick planting of trees and shrubs shelters the pit greenhouse on the north side. An insulating cover of snow helps hold in the ground heat.
The walls on the north side of the greenhouse and the roof are well insulated with styrofoam and insulation.
In early spring this is what we find—overwintered Formium tenax, agapanthus and three olive trees in pots.
We got fed up with moving the fig trees in and out of the pit greenhouse so Bill planted them both in the floor of the greenhouse.
The raised shelving is about a foot below the level of the ground outside. The heavy wire mesh of the shelving is covered with used feed bags so that soil does not fall into the storage area below.
In early spring Bill fills pots with soil in preparation for transplanting the seedlings which he grows under lights in our house. The filled pots are soaked in trays of water before transplanting begins.
Here Bill is cleaning the formium tenax plants.