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We have a reasonable collection of Penstemon mainly by taking cutting from our own plants and other gardeners plants over they past 4-5 years. As we know, as beautiful as they are Penstemon are only partly hardy and a heavy winter as 2010 can wipe out much of the collection.
After the effects of that winter, I now take cutting in August of 2-3 of each variety (as a precaution) and when rooted, I transplant into 4 inch pots in October. They are overwintered in our heated conservatory (exept on mild days in November to late February in the cold GH as not to allow them to grow `leggy`).
They are then potted into 5 inch pots until mid May when they are planted in their bedding positions where they flower from mid to late July onwards. My problem is that I finish up with a larger number of plants of similar varieties.
My question is, how do you protect the plants in the beds incase we do have a severe winter coming up? Do you cover the roots with bark chippings or other means?
Hi Bigolob, I cover the crowns of my penstemons and fuchsias with a 3" layer of multi purpose compost and they've survived every winter so far. Did lose a few bits during winter of 2010 but that was exceptionally cold.
I don't do anything apart from leave the foliage on over winter. Lose a couple ( out of about 30) each year, but most are fine. However, I am in the south, so that might make a difference. Took some cuttings this weekend, just to prove to myself I can do it!
Thanks folks, I thought a deep mulch over the roots would be the answer.
As lomg as good drainage is given too. Wet cold soil doesn't suit penstemons.
I agree with Verdun and am sure most plant losses over Winter are due to excess water around the roots rather than frost. I garden on clay soil but even many dahlias survive being left in the soil over Winter since I have learnt to incorporate lots of grit into the soil below their planting positions.