Don’t abandon your garden too soon

The back of the truck was full of flowers – even though they still looked decent. The gardener, in this case, wasn’t about to wait until all her blooms were frozen in her beds and flowerpots, so she was tearing everything out early.

Dead flowers are a downer and no one wants to look at them for the next eight – yes eight – months. 

And yet homeowners do this all the time: they wait until spring to remove dead flowers.

What if you list and sell your house over winter? What if your in-laws visit for the first time? How do you enhance your entry when sleet and snow is piling up on your geranium skeletons?

Follow these simple tips now for fast fall flowerpot clean up:

1 If your flowerpots are plastic or made of concrete, leave them outside, even if they are exposed to the elements. But clip off the plant stems at the soil level or dig out the old plants. Even flowers or spikes that don’t look dead yet will sag and are tough to remove later; 2 If your pots are fragile and exposed to the elements– and by this, I mean ceramic pots out in your yard – empty them and store upside down under a tarp in a shed or garage. I garden in a condominium and don’t have a yard, so I limit my planting to a single large pot, protected from snow by the balcony overhead, and I leave it in place; 3 If your pots are heavy, they can be moved with a strapping system called a pot-lifter. Use this innovative product, hire two burly men or use a fridge dolly to move your large fragile pots out of the wind and rain and snow; 4 If you have nowhere to put pots and are forced to take your chances by leaving them outside, at least try to roll them off the pavement and onto a flower bed so snow shovels won’t hit them; 5 If you care about curb appeal, don’t just remove dead plants. Remove enough of the soil in your largest pots to insert a No. 2 (7.5-litre) black plastic nursery pot. Dig out only enough soil to fit the pot inside the decorative pot. Then collect twigs and ornamental seed heads, sink them into sand within a second No. 2 pot and sleeve it into the pot already in place. Remove the inserted plastic pot later when you want to make a seasonal winter display, a Valentine extravaganza or an early spring themed pot.

Donna Balzer is a garden writer and speaker. Check out her blog at or follow on twitter @NoGuffGardener.