Heeling in Hanging Planter Perennials: How-To

DSC08238 These are my side-door hanging Ikea planters, which I’ve had for two summers.  They are planted with what I think of as a “bulletproof” (ie idiotproof) combination:  Golden Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia aurea) and Ribbon Grass (Phalaris arundinacea).  They’re not at their best right now, but this is how they looked earlier in the season.

The plants may be bulletproof, but I don’t think they’d survive the harsheties of a Canadian winter just hanging from the side of the house.  So this is my second time heeling them in to survive the winter.

“Heeling in” is a process of temporary planting to keep a plant or tree alive longer and healthier than it would stay in a pot.  You can do it if you’ve bought a new plant and don’t have space for it yet, or a tree that can’t go into its permanent home… or a planter of sturdy perennials that need a safe home for the winter.

First, take down the planters and set them on the ground.


Pull out the plant and assess its health.  After a season in the sun, these plants are somewhat potbound (ie most of the underground space is taken up by roots) – with some unhealthy root circling at the bottom of the pot.


So I just pulled off the bottom “clump” of the roots.  It came off easily, leaving lots of healthy root that should do just fine in the garden soil.


The rest is a lot like planting a perennial, except the site doesn’t have to be as ideal as it would be for a permanent planting.  First, dig a hole:


Stick the plant inside.


Replace any earth you’ve moved aside and press it down firmly around the roots.




Repeat for all six of these little hanging planters.


Can you spot the six little clumps of heeled-in perennials in this picture…?



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