Home My garden How to overwinter tender plants indoors

How to overwinter tender plants indoors

Exotics at the end of the conservatory
Exotics at the end of the conservatory

Blog: A conservatory clean led to a full redecoration but I’m no home-style guru!

Gardening is always driven by the weather and time of year and one of the great events of the year falls around now, the time of the first frost.

Obviously, this depends on where you live, but a couple of early cold nights had me racing to get the tender plants indoors.

Overwintering simply means giving plants that can’t cope with our winters a bit of help – I have a how-to A-Z of plants you might need help with here.

Guides to overwintering

There are also helpful posts on:

Unfortunately, this means one of my most hated jobs of the year – getting rid of the conservatory’s tomatoes and a full clean from top to bottom, in case there are any pests hiding in there.

The white paint and peacock blue shelf was shabby and chipped, so I decided to decorate. After Vanessa’s new diagnosis of migraines and mine making an unwelcome comeback after 23 years, white was out – the brightness sparks both of our attacks.

Great light levels

The light levels are always good, the conservatory being on the first floor (our house is built into the hill and the conservatory was originally a path to the side overlooking the garden that was glassed in).

With that in mind, I decided to paint the walls and shelf with Crown’s Easyclean Paint in Aftershow – a very dark grey. This paint is great, as you can use it on walls, woodwork and metalwork and it’s tough as old boots. The back door has stayed in Peacock gloss as a contrast. Darker walls will absorb any heat, letting it out slowly at night. (Thanks to Vanessa and Gary who did the high bits.)

You can’t do much with a space that’s 5ft wide x 30ft long but like most people, you do the best you can with what you can afford or been given.

Garage shelving works

The units are cheap garage shelving, chosen for their weight-bearing over beauty but you can add and take away the layers, very handy in summer for tomatoes. They’re made up to their full height here to store overwintering plants and my gardening equipment on the lower levels.

I invested in some new drip trays from Stewart and Garland, all new made from recycled plastic – my others were decomposing, I’d had them since I was a kid! My trusty zero gravity chair is now in the middle, where I can watch the bird feeder, with a tiny table with room for my iPod dock and a cuppa.

Total cost – about £30 for the paint and £80 for the trays (10 square gravel trays and 7 windowsill trays), so that’s not too bad.

Use whatever you have

If you don’t have a conservatory or greenhouse, don’t worry. You can use a cool but frost-free bright porch or cool windowsill in a spare room (but don’t leave plants behind a curtain).

The biggest killer is winter wet – most plants need to be virtually dry and dormant until the days lengthen when you can start them back into growth.

A final note: My geraniums (Pelargoniums) and chillies are having a bit of a last hurrah, selfishly for me – when the temperature really drops, they’ll be cut back but I’ve started to limit their water already.

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