Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Winter Care for Potted Evergreens

The holiday season is almost over, and green households all over the nation will soon be left with potted evergreens and no idea what to do with them during remainder of winter. Fortunately, the process of overwintering an evergreen is an inexpensive weekend project will ensure your investment is protected even during the harshest weather. Nobody wants to spend all winter fretting over his or her dying evergreen, so prepare your tree for the worst!

Choosing a Spot

Find an area of your yard that provides protection from harsh western winds and potentially damaging southern sun, erecting a trellis or wind barrier if nothing else is available. Make sure that your chosen location is far away from any roads or sidewalks that will be treated with salt because these plants are extremely sensitive to the substance- even in the air.

Overwintering the Evergreen

Even plastic pots can shatter because of freezing temperature, which is why the container of an overwintered evergreen must be buried in the ground. This will keep temperatures stable and the roots will remain safe. Be sure that the hole is just deep enough for the edges of the container to be level with the ground to prevent water accumulation, and make the area flat with some loose soil and autumn leaves.

Maintenance and Care

Since moisture loss is a real danger to potted evergreens it’s important to keep an eye out for those above-freezing days on which it would be safe to water the plant. If the plant is sustaining too much damage from the cold climate, it may be necessary to wrap the entire tree in a burlap sack. If the weather is just too extreme, the pot and plant may be moved inside a dark garage or a cold cellar. Your evergreens will certainly appreciate the effort and will live to see another beautiful spring!


  1. We have a darling little blue spruce that is destined for our friend's back yard. The ground is already frozen. Will it be safe in a protected corner above ground in its cardboard planter? Would it help to pack the planter with straw and burlap to insulate it? I have overwintered trees (hazel) in my garage with success, but will the evergreen shed its needles without sunlight?

  2. The evergreen shouldn't shed the needles without sunlight in its dormant state. The direct sun can be harmful, although a little sun certainly would not hurt a bit.

    If you prefer to keep the little spruce outdoors, you idea of straw and burlap may certainly do the trick! The biggest danger is the lack of water that the plant will get if the soil in the pot reaches freezing temperature. If moisture loss ends up being an issue- the garage would be the best bet.

    Best of luck!