Gaultheria
Q.

Growing Wintergreen on a balcony

Zone Heidelberg, Germany | Anonymous added on January 20, 2019 | Answered

Hi, I have a question about Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens). I just bought two small potted plants and would like to keep them on my balcony year round. We live in an area of Germany where the temperatures rarely reach below -5 C in the winter (generally 0-5 C). The balcony only gets morning sun so doesn't get too warm in the summer but during hot spells, the plants could be moved to a cool, shady spot on the ground outside the house. Do you think the plants would do well under these conditions on the balcony? Can you advise me on how to ensure they thrive? Would they need repotting at any point? Thank you for any advice you can give me! Sincerely, Tracy Johnson

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MichiganDot
Answered on January 20, 2019

Gaultheria procumbens is a small groundcover native to forested areas. It needs acidic soil and part shade to full shade; it will not grow larger than 12 inches or 30cm in a container. Wintergreen slowly covers the ground via creeping rhizomes that start a new plant. Potted plants need repotting every 2-3 years as the potting mix breaks down and needs renewal. The plant will likely be pot-bound at that point and require a larger container or root pruning. Make sure to continue watering in winter although less water is needed than summer. Once freezing temps arrive in early winter, keep the plants in shade so they don't repeatedly go through freeze and thaw cycles when sun shines on the pot. If you want fruit, plant flowers to draw insects to your balcony or pollinate the flowers by hand. There are videos online to show you how to do this.

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