Pot planting


Esteemed Member
It's pretty apparent that not many of my crotons in the collection are going to last long without some type of protection in winter. I am considering burying the whole pot in the ground vs. outright planting.

Why? Because 1.) I can haul them into the greenhouse during cold snaps and 2.) I don't intend to stay in the house longer than 2 yrs and want to take them with me.

I guess I am asking, how fast/deep is their growth rate. Most are currently in 3 gals and were from air layers last year.
Will this size pot be sufficient for this year or should I bump them up to fives before sinking in the ground?
I tried pot-planting with a few palms & they all died of root problems. Seems drainage was the issue with the drain holes blocked. Maybe some gravel in the hole first may help. Just a thought.
I'm with Peyton, just dig 'em up with a decent size root ball. I've never had a problem re-locating crotons, as long as they don't dry out & it's warm outside.
The issue I have is I'd have to dig them up for winter. Leaving them planted in this yard is going to be a death wish if we keep having these awful winters. Besides being a pain, do you think that would be too much shock?
I've over-wintered tropicals in the ground here for years by simply covering them for freezes, sometimes as cold as upper teens F, many many times into the low to mid 20's F, mostly with little to no cold damage...

I use cheap painters drop cloths from Home Depot that are very thin plastic on one side and felt on the other side - they last for years.
I put the felt side down, plastic side up, and drape them over the plants for frosts and light freezes.
For hard freezes I add a second cover of light-weight plastic (2 or 3 mil?) and let this lay on the ground or secure it with rocks/bricks/pins etc if windy...

I used to make hoops from fresh bamboo (15-20' Bambusa multiplex) cut in the fall after a big rain so the ground is soft - strip the branches quick and easy with a cane knife, cut a slant on each end and stick the big end in the ground first and then bend the bamboo over and stick the other end in the ground also so that it hakes a big hoop over the plant or bed - this works even better as it creates an air space around the plant when covered with the thin plastic sheeting like a little greenhouse. The ground here a few inches down stays 65 F year round - that's a lot of BTU's of heat which rises and gets trapped in the little hoop greenhouses when it's freezing outside... one just has to be careful to vent these by opening the ends or sides on a cold sunny day so the plants do not get cooked...

This probably sounds like a lot of trouble, but the first year I thought of doing this was because it was less trouble than digging everything up and moving the plants into the greenhouse or indoors...
It's actually pretty easy to do - the thin plastic is easy to handle and gets re-used over an over...
Here's a few tropicals that I have over-wintered outdoors for many years - three or four years in this spot, and probably 7 or 8 years in an exposed bed at my old house.
The Pachypodium geayi was maybe 6" tall when first planted, and the Aloe vaombe was bought from walmart in a 4" pot...
I don't know how much longer I'll be able to cover that tree aloe as it is almost too tall now.
The pachy is about 6' tall.
Photo taken Feb 2 2011.


  • vaombe 2011feb2a.jpg
    vaombe 2011feb2a.jpg
    146.5 KB · Views: 72
3 gal pots will hold you just fine as long as you don't mind schlepping them around. If above ground, the roots get cold uickly in winter and can dry out quickly in summer. having said that, I've got some inf 3 gal pots above ground that made it unsprotected the last two winters.
Thank you all for your suggestions! I think I will compromise and plant a few in their pots in the ground. I will pick common varieties for this experiment. I will also leave some outside the greenhouse but protected using frost cloth. Perhaps if I have good results, I won't be so gun shy to plant out.
Bren, I know your idea with the pots can be done. Several years ago Judy and I visited a friend in Houston, Texas. He invited us over for a "garden party". We got to his house and in his back yard he had many very tropical palms including the Red Sealing Wax and many Licualas. I had to blink a few times to remind myself that this was Houston! I know that the winter nights get into the 20's on a regular basis. Almost his entire garden were tropicals that were set into the groung in pots. He mulched over the pots and you would have no idea that they were not planted. Every fall, he pulled them out of the ground and put them in a warm shadehouse.