MANY summer-flowering plants adapted to amateur culture can be carried over the winter more safely in the cellar than elsewhere. There is no reason why they should be allowed to retain a place in the window at this season, as nothing in the way of bloom can be expected from them, and their health does not demand such treatment. On the other hand, there is every reason why they should go into cold storage. Here they can remain wholly dormant during the winter, while in the window they would be constantly excited towards growth under the combined influence of light and heat. The result of such excitement, during a period when they ought to be enjoying perfect rest, would be a weakened plant, and this at the very time when it ought to be ready for strong, vigorous development. The space such a plant would occupy in the window might much better be given up to plants from which bloom can reasonably be expected.
These plants ought to go into cold storage by the first of November. It is well to keep them in cool rooms until about that date, in order to give them ample time to ripen off their annual growth. While in cold storage they should be given very little water, as advised in the chapter on The Rest of Plants.
They should be stored in a place that is cool-one in which the temperature ranges but a few degrees above the freezing-point will be much better for them than a warmer one. Light should be excluded so far as possible. A cellar that is quite warm, and to which light is admitted freely, is a poor place to store plants, as it constantly encourages them to make attempts at growth, and these attempts are not only failures in themselves, but very weakening in their effect upon the plants. If water were to be applied liberally, the disturbance would be still greater, as it does much to increase the excitement resulting from light and heat. Therefore be 100 governed in watering your cellar-stored plants by the advice given in a preceding chapter.
I would not advise the pruning of plants when they are placed in the cellar. Defer this until you bring them up in spring. Doubtless some of the old branches will need to be cut away then, but we can not decide about this in advance. It is always best to wait until the plants begin to grow before applying the knife. This will begin very shortly after they are brought to the light and warmth of the living-room, and water is applied.
As a general thing, plants should be left in cold storage until about the first of March. This will give them about four month's rest.
Geraniums that have bloomed during the summer can be wintered in the cellar with comparative safety if most of the old top is cut away, and very little water is given. Some persons succeed in wintering them satisfactorily by hanging their roots from the ceiling, entirely free from soil. But as few cellars are arranged in such a manner as to furnish proper conditions for this method of wintering, I would much prefer to trust my plants in boxes of almost dry soil.
Soft-wooded plants, like Begonias, cannot 101 be kept over winter in the cellar with any certainty of success. Sometimes they will survive, but this is the exception that proves the rule against storing them there. Only plants of deciduous or semi-deciduous character are adapted to cold storage.
Tea Roses, and other tender members of the rose family are better off in the cellar in winter, than in the garden beds, even if given the most elaborate protection. I would lift these plants late in the season-not earlier than November-and pack them closely in boxes of sand. Make it very firm about their roots. Give them a place in a cool corner, away from the light. Slight freezing will not injure them. In lifting them, do not shake their roots out of the soil in which they have been growing. Simply cut around them with a sharp spade, raise them from the ground carefully, and set the block of earth containing them into your box, filling in solidly between them with sand.