Greenhouse Gardening: How to Keep Your Plants Safe During Winter

Winter Cactus

Saturday Morning Startle

It’s 7 AM and I’m having coffee in my cozy rocking chair waiting for the sun to come up so I can walk the dogs.

And then I hear a crash.

My Christmas cactus, now in full bloom thanks to the short days, is on the floor in pieces. Foliage and branches and soil are everywhere and startled dogs are looking at me with their innocent eyes. I desperately need the sun up and the dogs out. But first I have to pick up the pieces and get what’s left of mom’s plant to a higher shelf.

Most gardeners in northern climates bring tender plants indoors over winter instead of heating the whole greenhouse space up to tropical temperatures.  Some make use of a partition wall to have dual grow zones or just heat below bench level with an energy curtain.

My husband suggests we install a wood-burning stove or a wood furnace to heat our greenhouse but I like growing cool seasonal crops. Even with the possibility of a heavy snow greenhouse. Of course, I could simply cover the whole inside of my wintertime greenhouse garden with bubble wrap or extra poly with a fan blowing between the layers of glazing but instead, I cover the plants want to leave in the greenhouse and bring the rest indoors.

I’m like the gardeners who grow in milk jugs except I have a much bigger jug – my whole greenhouse.

Milk jug growing

If you like the idea of growing in jugs, now is the perfect time to plunk your seeded milk jugs inside your greenhouse. Or, if you plant in covered trays in your greenhouse it is like planting in jugs without having to find jugs. Use up any leftover seed from last summer in an experimental project to see what will grow in covered flats or milk jugs.

And if you have lively dogs knocking your old and fragile Christmas cactus on the floor make lemonade out of the tragedy. One big piece of my mom’s old cactus just became eight plants thanks to the rascally dogs.

Kids and sisters and neighbours will all be getting a piece of mom’s plant this year. And it was a mild outside yesterday so I planted the cactus segments in pots in my greenhouse and there’s the silver lining in the story.

Winter Cactus Potted

Winter Cactus Potted

Winter Cactus Leaves
Winter Cactus Leaves