‘Green thumbs’ can coax plants into surviving winter chill

(EDITOR’S NOTE: This feature is answered by members of the Lycoming County Master Gardeners. Readers who wish to submit a question to be answered by these experts may email it to region@sungazette.com. Questions also should include the reader’s full name, phone number and town of residence. Submitting a question does not guarantee that it will be answered in the Sun-Gazette’s Sunday Region section.)

WEEK 3: What plants and bulbs do you regularly winter over?

Ann B., Montoursville: “Inside the paper bags hanging from the hooks in the cool part of my basement you’ll find the beginnings of some of next year’s flowers for my garden — dahlia tubers, gladiolus corms and canna rhizomes. It’s a thrill for me to dig underground structures for various flowering plants, clean and divide them, store them in a cool, dark place in dry medium, and plant them late in the spring in anticipation of the upcoming flowers. Placed close to the window are clay pots containing last year’s begonias.  They will be watered sparingly, almost neglected, until late spring when they too will be planted outside to bring color and life to the garden.”

Deb S., Muncy

“The bulbs that I regularly winter over include daffodils, tulips, crocus, hyacinth and glads. I have a nice little microclimate near the house. My gardens are filled with native perennials that happily winter over.”

Linda B., Montoursville: “I don’t bring in any bulbs; I am a bit of a lazy gardener. I prefer perennials, bushes and trees. I avoid the work of annuals and bulbs. I do, however, have a lot of plants that I put out on the deck for the summer and bring into the house in the winter. My favorite are my orchids that benefit from being out in the bright indirect light and the summer humidity.”

Kathy L., South Williamsport: “Over the years, I have had success wintering over many kinds of bulbs and plants. In the past, I have saved plants such as princess lilies, geraniums, ferns and begonias. As far as bulbs and tubers go, I have wintered over gladiolas, canna lilies, elephant ears and dahlias. This year, I am going to try to winter over caladiums, which I haven’t tried before. Recently, I brought in three pots of tuber begonias that are in my basement right now. In the past, I have gotten them to grow and bloom again in the spring. Hopefully I will be lucky again this year.”

Carol L., Williamsport: “Last year, I received an amaryllis for Christmas. It was a wonderful splash of color over the dreary winter. I decided to plant it outside in summer, and dug it up in the fall before the frost. I’m hoping I can get it to bloom this year.”