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Super Green Thumb
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Location: TN. 50 years of gardening experience.

How to save plants during the cold winter?

In the past my perenials die during the winter and I have to replant in the spring. Is there some way to save the perenials?

My soil is very dry with very good drainage in the summer. The soil has a lot of clay with a lot of lime stone and I have added about 50% compost to the soil. Nothing much will grow here but the herbs. It gets full sun about 60% of the day. In the summer it is very hot and dry and the herbs do very well here. In fall, winter and spring we have lots and lots of rain. We rarely get snow but it does get down in the 20s at night then 40s and 50s during the day.

My butterfly plant lived for 3 years here and died. I planted another butterfly plant and it lived 4 years and died. Other perenials ususally never come up the following spring.

Sweet potatos do very well here.
Last edited by Gary350 on Sun Sep 06, 2009 2:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Super Green Thumb
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Joined: Sun Jul 06, 2008 11:58 am
Location: Central Sand Hills South Carolina

I think that lots of perennials are subject to root rot during the winter, if the soil stays too wet. I know that butterfly bush succumbs to the problem, usually after a few seasons. Have also read such about Agastache and others that need well drained soil. Other perennials are 'tender' perennials and get killed when the temperatures drop down into the low 20's. Through trial and error I've gotten more plants that survive my particular yard's conditions, with the plants just left in the ground. For my favorite tender perennials, the solution has been the lift the plants, prune them heavily and move the plants into the greenhouse. I believe that you could actually lift the plants, let a light frost kill the plants back, and then place them under your house or in an unheated protected area like a garage. Just water them slightly from time to time to keep the roots from totally drying out, and then move the plants back out in the spring when the temperatures settle above freezing. Anyway, that might be worth a try.

I currently move the more tender varieties of lantana, plumbago, penta, and a few other tender perennials inside for the winter.
Eclectic gardening style, drawing from 45 years of interest and experience. Mostly plant in raised beds and containers primarily using intensive gardening techniques.

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Super Green Thumb
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Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 11:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b


Alex is right, it is trial and error and finding things that are adapted to your conditions. It helps to work with native plants, because they are most likely to BE adapted to your conditions.

Here's some suggestions for native wildflowers that do well in clay soils:

butterfly weed (milkweed), coreopsis, coneflower, helianthus (sunflower), liatris (gayfeather), brown eyed susan, black eyed susan, goldenrod (but watch out, I planted some then ended up pulling it because it was threatening to take over my yard).

Natives that aren't so specifically known for liking clay, but like moist conditions: goatsbeard, joepye weed, cardinal flower, great blue lobelia, obedient plant (also a pretty aggressive spreader), bee balm.

All of these are tough hardy plants that should do well for you.

Susan W
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Joined: Mon Jul 06, 2009 6:46 pm
Location: Memphis, TN

Great suggestions! I am in similar climate, and we are prone to wet winters. Some things don't make it. Some I consider short lived perennials (common sage and lavender can be in that category). A couple of suggestions besides trial and error. For me that is lots of trial and lots of error!

Whether your beds are raised or ground level, you need to add dirt and stuff every year. I use the cheaper top soil from the box store and some compost of whatever variety. Work this in to freshen the beds. Do this AFTER your plants have come back up in the spring!

Also mark where your plants are. Some still have some stalks, but others just vanish. You can use the plastic tag/marker that comes with the plant, a plastic picnic knife or something more sophisticated.

Hope this helps. We want a report come spring!
Have fun!

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Super Green Thumb
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Location: TN/GA 7b

sage and lavender

Yup! Sage and lavender are Mediterranean plants that HATE to stay wet!

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