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Wintering Over Container Trees

Get ready to lug these babies indoors

It's not very hard to bring in all of the regular-sized container plants from outside, but when it comes to container-grown trees, well, that's another story. You first have to figure out a way to drag the darn tree into the house and then find a place to put it where you won't be running into it in the middle of the night. I suggest fixing a big dinner for your neighbors and not give them desert until they help you move the tree.

Once you have your tree inside, put it beside a bright, sunny window. Increase the humidity around your tree by misting or placing bowls of water nearby. This will help it get through the shock of moving indoors. You could also place your smaller container plants on trays with gravel beneath it to keep humidity around all of the plants at the same time. Don't panic if some leaves drop or it stops flowering. Remember that it's naptime for your tree and it will be conserving energy for a few months.

Cut back on the watering schedule. The tree won't need as much while it's resting and not producing as many new leaves. Don't over-water, and don't let the roots dry out completely either. You'll need to feel the soil a few inches down to know when to water. It's best to not fertilize your tree until after the first of the year.

Remove dead leaves on a regular basis and check for spider mites or aphids that may have hitched a ride inside. If you find insects and need to treat the tree, put an old sheet or plastic drop cloth underneath to protect your floors, walls and furniture.

Some container trees, such as nectarines and certain peach trees actually need a cool season to bear fruit or flowers in the spring. For these trees, a basement or unheated room might be a better place to over-winter. Check with your agricultural extension agent for particular tree needs in your zone.