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Protecting Perennial Planted Containers During Winter

I live in Lansing, MI and am wondering how I can protect my container plantings-such as lilies, bleeding heart and astilbe during our cold winter weather?

Sink the containers in the ground in a vacant garden area for the winter.  For added insurance, mulch the plants with evergreen branches or straw once the ground freezes. If this isn't possible move the planters into an unheated garage.  Pack the roots in Styrofoam peanuts or other insulating material for added insulation.  Water the soil anytime it is thawed and dry.  The riskiest method is to leave the containers above ground.  Group the containers together in a protected location. Cover the pots with woodchips or place bales of straw around the containers to protect the roots from harsh winter temperatures.  I often place containers and hanging baskets of annuals around the containers of perennials, trees and shrubs I overwinter above the ground.  They provide added insulation and I can add them to the compost pile in spring instead of during fall cleanup. These methods also work for all the perennial, trees and shrubs that did not get planted this season.

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