So as much as I hate to admit it we are getting close to that time of year again. The city has started removing the annual flowers for the year and we are one frost away from everything needing to be removed very quickly. Believe it or not there are a few of these plants that can be saved for the next year if you have the time, patience and room.
An annual plant is a plant that usually germinates, flowers, and dies in a year or season. So generally you are only able to get one season out of this plant material. I am giving you a few of the exceptions to this rule.
Many people in town already winter over their fuchsia plants with Bells Nursery but geraniums can also be wintered over in a similar fashion. They need a dark, cool place that is around 40 degrees and frost free. These plants need to be brought indoors before the first frost. Prune back the plant to allow for a full compact plant when growth resumes. In the early spring, (mid-late February) growth should start re-appearing. When this happens, increase the moisture, light and temperatures. Also keep new growth pinched to help develop a fuller plant.
Dahlias and Begonias can also be wintered over fairly easily. The tubers must be dug up after the weather has turned cool and there has been a light frost. Clean the tubers of soil and them the dry in a dark area. For a healthier plant allow the stems and foliage to dry and fall off (generally 1-2 weeks).
Store the tubers in dry clean peat moss, sawdust, vermiculite or shredded paper and then place them in a similar place to the fuchsias and geraniums; dark and cool (40-45 degrees) until the spring. By late March the tubers will start sprouting. If they haven’t, place them in a warm room and keep them moist until the sprouts appear. You will want to start the roots indoors 7-8 weeks before the last frost. In Alaska, this is approximately April 1.
I have found the wintering over process to be an enjoyable part of gardening. It is exciting to see these traditionally annual plants come back bigger and better every year!