October chores. Protecting containers from rain

I am busy putting plants away before the big sog sets in. Some plants like Brugmansia need particular care, including letting potted plants go dormant by drying them out and storing them in a cool somewhat dark place. If in a cold frame put the pots into a larger tub and mulch with leaves, your future compost.

Others like my ice plant and Lewisia must bear being put under the eastern eaves of my house, simply to keep from getting soggy and frozen. Death by FREEZE often is something else. Basically, it comes to roots, esp. tuberous or fleshy roots being crushed to death in a dirt ice block, not from the temperature itself.

Dierama plants are much the same, unless in ground containers should be protected under an overhang and mulched Storing these in a cool, dry spot and holding off on watering during the winter will keep them alive. Drainage for larger pots is necessary. If needed tip the plants at an angle to reduce soil surface tension. This applies to most cacti and Agave. Or bonsai.

A special comment on Dierama or similar tubers like Corydalis solida Beth Evans. (Fumewort) These are fantastic pt. shade plants that are moisture tolerant. They need rich well draining soils, but initial bulb plantings in pots can rot out as do Camas corms.

All of these are NOT bulbs like tulips or daffodil, so when you offer some as a plant trade do not dig and throw them out on the lawn until the party comes. The sun or drying winds will kill them within a day or so.

Gravel mulches also help the cacti, Lewisia and such. It prevents water droplets splattering’s of soil onto the leaves creating potential for disease. Potted plants are really tricky and bulbs with fleshy roots like Lilies and even my young Pacific Coast Iris will be tucked away before winter. Leaning pots to give them a slant also helps on large potting’s of say Hosta, totally hardy, but less so if they get waterlogged. Also, always double check the drainage holes in those pots. They often plug up from tired potting soils unless they are on legs.

One thing, despite the best site, soil type or drainage Dierama (Angel’s Fishing Rod) seem to peter out after three or four years. Happily, they replace themselves with happy seedlings surrounding the original planting. Grow Angel’s Fishing Rod in rich moist well-drained soils in full sun. When planting in clay, be sure to amend with plenty of humus or add some very course horticultural perlite. If in sandy or rocky soil, add compost or some peat. 

A few commented that they have no problem overwintering their IN GROUND plants. These suggestions are for people growing such plants  in containers. I have grown and propagated these since the 80’s. Soil type, elevation slope planting and rainfall totals make or break these plants. What works easy here in Sequim or Pt. Townsend does not translate to Enumclaw or properties above six hundred feet.

And now I await our first windstorm and hope to scarf up some leaves to mulch all the dormant plants.

Herb Senft (C) 2023

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