How to Overwinter Tropical Plants


Although they will never reach the massive size that they do in their native habitat, tropical plants can be grown in colder climates. In order to survive, however, they must be properly overwintered, or protected during cold months. If they are not protected, they will die. With protection, they can thrive in your garden for years to come, providing beauty, color and texture for your landscape, regardless of your location's climate.

Step 1

Wait until after the first light frost in the fall. Leaves on the tropical plants will turn brown and begin to die back. Trim back the foliage to about six inches high.

Step 2

Dig up the bulb, corm or tuber. Rinse the dirt off of the bulb, corm or tuber. Handle it gently while cleaning. It does not need to be scrubbed, and a small amount of remaining dirt is okay.

Step 3

Lay the bulb, corm or tuber out to dry. Pack the bulb, corm or tuber in a box, milk crate or container that allows some air circulation, covering it with peat moss.

Step 4

Store the bulb, corm or tuber in a cool, dark place until spring, and re-plant after the last frost.

Tips and Warnings

  • Don't dig up tropical plants that have root systems that are not a bulb, corm or tuber.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Garden spade
  • Peat moss


  • University of Illinois Extension: Overwintering Tropical Plants
Keywords: overwinter tropical plants, save tropical plants, winter tropical plants

About this Author

Carlye Jones is a journalist, freelance writer, photographer and novelist, with more than 15 years of experience. She enjoys sharing her expertise on home improvements, interior decorating, photography, gardening and traveling. Her work has appeared both in print and on numerous websites, such as Matador Travel. Carlye received her training at Northern Arizona University.