I have several non-hardy plants that were either gifts or acquisitions along the way. I am not normally a houseplant non-hardy type person in the garden. However, these tenders have earned a spot outside in the summer garden. They look great and add so much to the landscape. What do I do with houseplants in the other three seasons when they can't tolerate the weather outside?? My house is not equipped to handle a ton of houseplants, plus cuttings, plus seedlings inside it, so I had to have another option.
That option comes into play when frost is imminent, like this time of year. My solution is to store many of my houseplants (ferns, tropicals, geraniums, dahlia tubers, Angel Trumpets, caladiums, and aloe) under the house in my crawlspace. Crawlspace you say? How can that work? Not sure, but it does and has worked great for over five winters now. The crawlspace under my home stays above freezing (I haven't actually took the temperature though), is dry, ventilated and somewhat cozy for the plants. Especially the Boston Ferns.
These pictures were taken on the day I pulled my plants out this spring. The ferns are a bit more bedraggled than I would like, but this is the way they went under the house, a bit worn at the end of last summer. You do need to ensure the plants stay moist during the winter. I did not water this year, though I should have. These plants were all bone dry. Check them monthly or so to be sure they are moist, not dripping wet. The ferns do drop some leaves under the house, but that is not a big deal. Better there than in my house.
One of the plants actually came out of storage in bloom. It is shown in the first picture. This is the only plant I have seen which blooms in three colors, Red, White and Blue! It is my patriotic plant and I do like the red, white and blue color scheme in the garden so it is a favorite outside plant during the summer. I know the picture is not that good but still hope someone can help me identify it. Does anyone know what it is called?
A friend of mine from school is skeptical that this is a good way to winter over plants. His problem with it is that there is no light. The vents under my house to allow some light to come through, but truly in the wintertime I think the plants all go dormant and don't need any light.
The really big bonus of storing these plants under the house is there is no mess in the house. Who has messy Boston ferns they store in the house? I don't, not since I store them under the house now.
If you have a usable crawlspace area and some ferns to store, you might try my method. I am NOT responsible for the plants dying though if it does not work out. I can only say it has worked for me for several years. Skeeter tried it last year and I am sorry to report she had no luck at her Georgia house. Still sorry Skeeter! So try it with a plant you generally replace each year anyhow. Good luck.
in the garden....