Well we’ve reached the time of year where frosts and cold nights are more and more common–so it’s time to overwinter my ferns! That’s right–this will be the third year that I’ve brought my hanging ferns in for the winter and (hopefully) managed to make them survive through the winter. That means about $40 less each year (or a total of $80, to be $120 if they make it this year) that I’ve saved by not having to purchase new ferns each year. And I think that this spring I’ll be able to split these ferns into 2 or three each and re-pot them to wind up with even more.
Here’s what I’ve done. In September of 2010 I wrote about my plans to overwinter my Boston Ferns. I had started out with the ferns living in my front entryway, but by February of 2011 I had given an update on overwintering the ferns and decided to move them all the way to our upstairs master bathroom on the third floor. The front hallway was just too cold and dry–we block it off from the rest of the house and only heat it minimally. On the other hand the bathroom of our master bedroom actually has a high humidity issue-making it the perfect place for the ferns. (note-the geraniums I mentioned in that post never really did that well-I don’t think I handled them correctly)
In May of 2011 with my first “Garden Update” I gave the final results of the overwintering. They had made it, but they looked a bit scraggly. I trimmed out all the dead leaves, watered well and hung them on the porch. Within a month they looked fine 🙂
I basically repeated the process last year–except going straight to the master bath instead of even trying the front hall. They made it just fine-a bit less scraggly than the year before. When I hung them out they didn’t look quite as full as some of the neighbors who bought theirs “fresh”. . . but they soon caught up. One side was lusher and fuller than the other–I hadn’t really rotated them and the side closest to the window all winter had better growth.
This year I decided to do a more vigorous pruning before I brought them inside. So they are shorter but hopefully will shed less (I do spend the winter sweeping up bits and pieces of dead fern in my bathroom). They are all ensconced in their winter location now:
The plan is to turn them a bit more regularly this time–I’m thinking a 1/4 turn each Sunday, that way they will sort of grow more evenly. About every week or two I give them a cup or so of water (I usually keep a plastic cup right there that I can fill at the bathroom sink & toss on). You have to be very careful not to overwater indoor plants 🙂
Just to give you an idea of how close they are to the shower (and hence the steam/humidity) I took a distance shot:
I’m quite happy with how the whole overwintering process has gone. Why let the plants die each year and then buy new? This is not only frugal, but more sustainable. And I just add value if next year I divide the ferns and make myself a few more basically for free!
Next on my agenda? Taking some cuttings from the herb garden and seeing if I can overwinter those in the basement under grow lights. . .