As happens every year, we don’t sell every single plant we grow. Luckily, the perennials can be stored over winter and grown again the following spring. After 20+ years of this procedure, we’ve found one that works well for us.
The plants are gathered and inventoried in September. As the temperatures start dropping, they naturally start the process of winter dormancy. The foliage is cut back and they are “nested” together in a large group. We continue watering them as needed, but we want the plants to have just the right amount of soil moisture going into winter. Too wet and they will smother the roots, too dry and they will desiccate and freeze out. Constantly at the mercy of Mother Nature.
After the temperatures are consistently below freezing, all of the plants are covered with white plastic and a good layer of straw mulch. It is important that the containers are frozen, we want to keep them in that state until spring. Using the white plastic helps prevent excess moisture getting in the pots and reflects sunlight. The straw is just a good insulation layer to minimize temperature fluctuations and keep the plants just a few degrees warmer than the air temperature. Then we hope for a good snow layer to assist with that.
But the most important step is rodent control. There are about 400 Hosta (among the rest of the plants) tucked away right now. The crowns of these plants are full of nutrients and are delicious to the little creatures. I don’t like the idea of exterminating living things, but my Hosta are also alive and I choose to save them. So I toss around a fair bit of mouse bait before I cover the lot with plastic. I do make sure the bait is inside a plastic station made for that purpose so larger creatures cannot get to it, like our dog, or the fox that lives in the hedgerow, or the bunnies that the fox eats. Go fox, go…
Come spring, when the temperatures are consistently above freezing, the layers come off and the plants are cleaned up, repotted, and made ready for spring sales, usually twice the size of last year.