Lantana is a tender perennial that will not survive northern...

Lantana is a tender perennial that will not survive northern winters, so it typically is grown as an annual on Long Island. Credit: Missouri Botanical Garden Plant

DEAR JESSICA: I hope you can give me some advice on what to do with my lantanas. One is a tree in a pot, and the other one is a hanging plant. With the cold weather coming, should I bring them indoors? -- Heidi Nelson, East Northport

DEAR HEIDI: Lantanas are beautiful, tender perennials, hardy only to zone 8. Most of Long Island belongs in zone 7, so your plants will not survive winter outdoors. They won't likely thrive indoors as a houseplant, either, because they require more sunlight than your winter window can provide. To keep them for next year, your best option is to allow them to go dormant. Here's how:

Move the plants indoors now and set them in a cool spot, ideally near a north- or east-facing window that provides indirect light through a sheer curtain. Leaves and berries will drop (clean them up promptly if you have children or pets, as they are toxic.)

Over the course of the winter, water sparingly only when the soil feels dry at root depth (plunge your finger knuckle-deep into the soil to ascertain moisture.) They can be moved back outdoors in May, after the danger of frost has passed, by setting plants in a shady area for a few days to allow them to reacclimate before moving to a sunnier spot.

DEAR JESSICA: My neighbor has grapevines that grow over my fence and into my yard. They are very invasive! For years we've been trimming the vines on my side, but is there any other way to control this? -- Maureen Daume, Selden

DEAR MAUREEN: Are the vines from domesticated grapes that your neighbor planted deliberately, or wild ones, which are typically considered weeds? If they're a domesticated variety, it's likely that your neighbor planted them too close to the property line. But all he would need to do to keep them off your side of the fence would be to secure them to a trellis and train them to grow up. This would benefit his crop yield, anyway.

Wild grapevines can pose a bigger problem, so maybe your neighbor will agree to pull them up by their roots.

Either way, I think a conversation would go a long way toward arriving at a solution. If your neighbor refuses to eliminate (or train) his plants, you would be within your rights to cut whatever plant parts are on your side of the fence as often as you like.

DEAR JESSICA: I dug up a small holly seedling over the summer and planted it in a pot. When it grew to about a foot tall, I transplanted it to a larger clay pot, and it's now outdoors on my porch. Can you tell me how I should treat it over the winter? -- Albert Mero, Woodmere

DEAR ALBERT: If you'd like to keep it as a container plant, your first course of action should be to plant it in a sturdy plastic, resin, fiberglass, treated lumber or other non-clay pot. Clay pots tend to crack outdoors over the winter. Either choose a container that's 18-24-inches in diameter to ensure sufficient root insulation -- or sink a smaller pot into the ground. Odd as it may seem, burying an entire pot is a good way to provide winter protection while avoiding disturbance to the root system.

If you would like to settle the holly into your garden, you can do that now. Plant in acidic, well-draining soil in a spot with at least a partial-sun exposure. When choosing a site, it's important to consider the mature size of your seedling. Holly can grow quite large. American hollies, for instance, grow slowly, but eventually reach up to 50 feet.


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