best location to overwinter potted trees

lisa13November 18, 2012

Hi everyone,

I have two japanese maples and a few other potted deciduous shrubs that are reasonably hardy, but I want to give them the best chance for survival this winter. I think Munich is zone 6 and all of these plants are rated zone 5 or colder.

Even though I'm in the city, I actually have a rather large yard with a choice of locations where I could overwinter the plants, and wanted some feedback about what might be best:

1) north facing yard. This gets zero direct sun, and is really cool and damp year round. For sure the temperature is going to stay more constant to prevent freeze/thaw cycles but it really is chilly. There is a gravel border along the side of the building where drainage is good, and I am thinking there will be heat radiating from the building too...but only on one side of the pots. Good or not good?

2) east facing patio. This is definitely warmer year round, and in winter does not get any direct sun because it's too low in the sky. The patio has a "roof", but no sides The floor consists of concrete pavers so no drainage, but the only natural moisture would come from blowing snow. Lots of radiant heat here, good or not good?

Munich has funny winters as it's really not very cold most of the time, but we do get pretty severe cold snaps that can last up to a week. In the open north yard, I lost two fargesias last year, as well as a boxwood. On the other hand I had one hydrangea paniculata stashed agaist that north wall that did great, and a hydrangea macrophylla in the same location which barely made it.

In either location, I do intend to group all the containers together and pack bags of straw around them as well. Advice on how thick that layer of insulation should be would be great, too.

looking forward to hearing what you guys think!

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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Where does the radiant heat come from at the east facing patio?


    Bookmark   November 18, 2012 at 9:13PM
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Hi Al,

I'd guess most of it comes from the building, but since there is a roof more of it gets trapped than it does on the north side. It may also get some heat coming up from the basement and garage below.

The upper half of the building gets direct sun late morning and midday, but it doesn't get quite high enough to shine down onto the patio. I'd say it starts to clear the roof next door starting sometime in February, and things are thawed out completely by March in the east yard. North side took at least another month to get going last spring.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2012 at 5:09PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

It sounds to me like either spot would be fine if you're going to mulch with the straw bales. I think I'd actually go with the spot that gets the least sun, and therefore, the most even temps. You want to avoid anything that can move the plant to growth mode by virtue of the fact the soil temps have risen above about 5-6*. Once that occurs, the plants ability to tolerate chill will have been significantly compromised.


    Bookmark   November 25, 2012 at 9:48AM
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I'm overwintering several new trees this year as well. My evergreen has done really wel with no special care for 9 years, but I purchased a bunch of trees this year including a memorial tree. I'm also trying to figure out the best way to insulate them. I was thinking of burying the pots in the garden but I don't think I can get deep enough. I think I'll put them all together and pack straw around them like you said.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2012 at 10:59PM
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