Just about all of the decorative annuals you buy in the spring from your local garden center are tender tropical plants. In warmer zones they can be perennials--or at least live for a couple of years--but in colder zones these are plants are usually allowed to die with the first frost.
One benefit of overwintering annuals is saving money. Annuals you successfully overwinter don’t have too be bought again the following spring. If you have an annual that you absolutely loved this season you should overwinter it. Cultivars fall in and out of favor and there’s no guarantee they will be available the next year. But the biggest benefit of overwintering annuals is that they give you something to fuss over during the cold, dreary days of winter.
Here are 12 annuals I have successfully overwintered in the past.
4. New Guinea impatiens
6. Chenille plant
9. Tradescantia pallida
10. Tradescantia zebrina
11. Ornamental sweet potato
Cuttings or Potted Plants?If you are blessed with a greenhouse or have ample window space, the easiest way to overwinter your annuals is to bring them indoors before they are killed by frost. If, like me, you only have a few windows you can take cuttings of these plants (except for Oxalis) and root them on your windowsills. You don’t need any fancy equipment. An empty canning jar like the one in the post on taking tomato cuttings works fine.
BugsSometimes bugs can hitch a ride indoors through potted plants. Rinse off the foliage (paying close attention to the underside of leaves) with the garden hose before bringing them indoors. Bugs aren’t really a problem with cuttings, but give them a blast from the hose just in case.
Lighting, Watering and FertilizingIdeal placing for your annuals is in a south-facing window. The second best window in your house is an east-facing window. Water your plants when the soil becomes dry. This will depend a lot on how warm and dry you keep your home during the winter. Change the water your cuttings are rooting in about once per week. Fertilizing annuals you are overwintering is not necessary as they are not actively growing during the winter months.
Don't forget about those decorative peppers in fall planters. They too can be brought indoors for the winter. Did your favorite decorative annual not make my list? What annual do you overwinter every year?