November 9, 2013

1 - You can overwinter potted citrus, fig, and pomegranate plants if you can provide the proper environment indoors in New Mexico.

Yard and Garden

November 9, 2013


I have been growing some tropical fruit plants in large pots all summer. I have a couple of small citrus trees, a pomegranate, and a fig tree. I have taken these plants indoors and wonder if they are likely to survive the winter. What should I do to make sure that they survive the winter?


Las Vegas, NM


If you have a south-facing room with large windows you can overwinter your trees in this room, especially the citrus trees. The citrus trees will survive the winter best if the night temperatures are cool (40 to 60 degrees). The soil in the pots should be kept moist, but not soggy. You should not need to fertilize the trees until late winter or early spring. You do not want to stimulate growth during the winter. The room should have bright light, but sunlight should be filtered somewhat. Sheer curtains will help diffuse the light entering the room and provide better lighting conditions for the trees. The citrus trees will retain their leaves all winter and are more dependent on proper lighting than the fig tree and pomegranate. After the coldest days of winter have passed, you can move the plants outdoors into a location with bright, indirect light on warm days and returned indoors at night. This is difficult because the pots will be heavy, but if there are wheeled platforms under the pots, it may be possible. If moving the plants outdoors on warmer days is not possible, they will probably survive if their wintering location is bright enough and cool. The fig and pomegranate are deciduous and will lose their leaves during the winter. These trees will actually do better in the winter if allowed to go dormant and kept in a very cool location. They can be killed if the temperatures get too low, but temperatures down to the mid-twenties should not hurt them. Plants in pots are more subject to low temperatures than plants in the ground outside. The roots in a pot or other above grade container will become colder than those in the ground under similar temperature conditions and will be damaged by higher temperatures than trees in the ground. However, in Las Vegas, the temperatures outside will be too cold for these plants most winter. They will need special protection. They will not need much light during their dormant period, and this will allow you to keep them in a cold, dark location. They should receive periodic irrigation to prevent desiccation during winter storage. If their storage location warms up early, new growth may develop and then they must be moved to a well-lighted location. If these trees are kept cool enough, they will not initiate growth until later and may not require being moved to another location.

Marisa Y. Thompson, PhD, is the Extension Horticulture Specialist, in the Department of Extension Plant Sciences at the New Mexico State University Los Lunas Agricultural Science Center, email:, office: 505-865-7340, ext. 113.


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