Friday, August 23, 2013

Overwintering Agaves and the Flower Garden

The temperatures here are still too hot (90's F) to think about what is going to happen to my plants this coming fall and winter, but I can force myself to plan ahead.

We already have a plan for our many, many potted variegated agaves. (By the way, anything variegated will usually not tolerate really cold weather. So plan accordingly.) Last year we transported the potted agaves to a dry place under the eaves of our dining room wall. Agaves tend to rot in pots if they are too wet, so we just ignored them the entire winter. They received adequate ventilation and enough moisture from the odd blowing rain to keep them healthy and alive until we put them back out into the yard last spring. They look glorious this summer!

August 2013

August 2013 (live oak near the lane)

August 2013 (live oak near the grapevines)

March 2013

March 2013

March 2013

The  agave relatives (they all have the same mother/grandmother) planted in the ground next to the driveway are babied all winter. A couple of years ago we ordered a huge roll of white gauzy type garden cloth to protect our plants from frost. My hub cut the long lengths and labeled them, so we just roll them out over the prickly agaves, anchor them with bricks, and protect our huge collection of agaves from the frosty temps of the dead of winter. It means that we have to keep an eye on the weather forecasts and sometimes get out in the dark of night to spread the covers, but we haven't lost a plant in two years. Remember to remove the "bedcovers" before the warm rays of sun beat down upon your plants the next day. Even winter days in the Deep South can be sunny and warm and cook your plants when they are under cover!

The plants in our front flowerbed do not need much added water during the months of November, December, January, and February. So my hub turns off the drip irrigation sprinkler, and he stores away any tubes that might get damaged during the cold months. Most of the plants in our flowerbeds are perennials, so when they seem to die back, I either let them be or cut back the sometimes ugly stalks. If I am really ambitious, I plant chrysanthemums in the pots inside the beds. We usually get enough rain in the winter to keep them growing.

When we built our house, we chose not to put up a railing on our porches. We use large pots of plants instead to edge the high porch. When cold weather approaches, we try to save what plants we can by moving them on the porch up against the house or by lugging them through the front hallway and then out onto the back screened in porch. A few extra moving blankets thrown over the tender plants keep out the frosty temps on the coldest nights. I have even been able to overwinter some geraniums this way.

March 2013

Last winter we just moved all of the baby agaves and my four windowboxes with geraniums to the semi-open barbecue porch. Everything survived with minimal effort.

Getting ready for cold weather just takes a little planning and some muscle power. My hub has learned how to maneuver his tractor with a lift so that we do only minimal lifting, not the moving.

Start planning your strategies before the thermometer takes a dive. 

Now if we could only count on a few 60 degree mornings in the next few weeks, maybe I could clean out these veggie beds and plant my fall garden. (But our summer tomatoes and eggplant and okra are still producing!) 
Summer 2013

Summer 2013

Last year I planted my fall garden the first week of October and had spinach and lettuce for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  What a treat! 

;>} Wetcreek Gardens


Ivy and Elephants said...

Hi there! Thanks so much for visiting and leaving sweet comments. Lovely to meet you and see the agave plants. I have a couple that have gotten HUGE! But here in Fl winter is really no problem, it's the heat!
New follower,

Raymond Quinn said...

The nice thing that I liked about when we got our agave plants is their relative easy ability to survive the winter. Sure, you have to baby them a bit but nothing like with other plants. They are so gorgeous to look at in the morning that I would never consider getting rid of them under any circumstances, heaven forbid!

Raymond Quinn @ River Oaks Plant House