I will be moving in January and I’m sad at the thought of leaving all my beautiful perennials behind. The ground here in Zone 5 will be too frozen to dig in January, but I can’t return next spring to dig them either. Can I put them in pots this fall?
That’s a great plan. You can dig divisions of your favorite perennials in late summer or early fall and pot them in plastic nursery pots. If you are paying a moving company to transport your possessions, keep in mind that you’ll probably be charged by weight; smaller divisions in small, lightweight pots will save moving fees. Some movers refuse to transport plants at all, so check the fine print of your contract.
Getting the plants through a cold winter in pots will be the tricky part. Leave the potted perennials outdoors as the weather cools in fall, allowing them to gradually go dormant. If you anticipate the soil may freeze before your moving date, cluster the pots together outdoors and insulate over and around them with loose mulch such as straw or evergreen boughs, then cover them with a tarp. Or keep the pots in an unheated garage. Once the soil in the pots freezes, it’s best that it stay frozen and not alternate between frozen and thawed.
After the pots have arrived at your new home, continue to keep the plants chilled and dormant until spring planting season. —Doug Hall