Man… I can remember the apprehension I felt the first winter I put my plants outside! There were points where I thought I was nuts! For 30 years, I had grown my Sarracenia collection in a greenhouse of some shape or form. Granted I’m not gonna lie, I did have a couple small outdoor turtle pool bogs over the years. However, my “good” plants never went out there! I planted these with “extras” in case they were killed during the winter! But moving an entire collection outdoors to be at the mercy of the elements with no “backups” in a greenhouse was downright scary!
In my situation, I have made huge outdoor bog gardens to host my collection, but what if, you don’t want giant bogs, or don’t have room, or don’t want that sort of permanency and would rather grow your collection potted… and you don’t have a greenhouse! Can you still winter your plants successfully outdoors? The answer is resounding YES!
A long time friend and fellow Sarracenia grower Jay, has been wintering his plants in a pink box in his unheated garage for years. I’ve been meaning to blog about it… for whatever reason.. just haven’t! Luckily, I know another grower who is new to Sarracenia and wanted to winter his collection outdoors (in pots). So I suggested the “pink box” and Michael and he gave it a try… I’m happy to report, his collection is alive and well.
I asked him to recount his experience:
I trimmed the plants and put the plants to sleep on NOVEMBER 20th 2014. I woke them up April. 1, 2015. (the opening closing really depends on the weather!)
I made a box out of 1.5 inch pink insulation. All the pieces around the box and including the top were 1.5 inches thick, except for the bottom where I added extra piece (making it 3 inches” as the garage floor gets cold. I used outdoor calking to seal the seams. I put the plants (Sarracenia & Venus fly traps) that were in biggest pots around the outside of the box and the smaller ones going in towards the middle. For fungicide I sprayed (crowns) with Safer’s neem oil first then I used sulphur powder generously all over the remainder of the leaves & soil, I then put two layers of burlap over the plants and then covered them with 24 inches of pine needles. Then I put the lid one.
I stored the box in a detached garage with no heat, so the temps in the garage were as low as outside just without the windchill, I had a thermometer in the middle of the pine needles the temps in the box when I opened it was -5 to -8C. However, the temps were much colder than that during the coldest days of our winter.
Here is a photo of one of his VFT’s as it came out of the box. Looks great!
Here is a photo of Michael’s growing setup and what his plants looked like after coming out of the box. Again, they look great! Congrats on your success and I hope this inspires others who want to grow potted/outdoors year round!