Fall is here, and the gardening season is coming to a close. Why not bring a few treasured plants inside? Or maybe harvest some of your summer herbs and flowers for gifts? There are so many ways to bring your garden inside. You can start a new plant from cuttings, or dig the original plant up. Or you could separate some of the tubers and roots from a favorite plant and get a head start on next year's garden by growing a new one inside. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
Bringing in Entire Plants
There's just something about the frost killing off all of my hard work that I just can't bear-I have to bring in some of my plants! It's not really that difficult either. You can overwinter your favorite plants, especially tender perennials that may not make it through the winter, or that treasured tropical plant you bought (or were given) on a whim. There are even some annuals that do well inside. Bringing plants inside always cheers me up. The winters seem long and bleak, but I can look at my small window garden and dream of summer, or cook up something wonderful with fresh herbs. Some people even grow salad gardens in their kitchen windows .
For me, my biggest "prize" is my rosemary plant. I finally got one to live for more than a few weeks, and am hoping to keep it alive over the winter. I've lost more than one rosemary plant in the past. After unsuccessful attempts with rosemary purchased at the grocery store on sale, I bought this one at a nursery in the spring. It was tiny, and definitely not potbound (unlike the ones in the grocery store!) It has grown very big since then, and I'm hoping it will thrive inside as well.
Rosemary are picky plants indoors, so I was really careful preparing it for its indoor home. First, I watered it the day before I was going to dig it up. When I did uproot it, I dug a wide circle around the plant to avoid cutting off any important roots. To my surprise, the root system was fairly small. I picked a larger pot than I needed for the rosemary, because I plan on planting the entire pot into the ground next year if it makes it through the winter. Since rosemary plants love good drainage, I put plenty of loose rocks on the bottom, then filled it with a mix of potting soil and vermiculite (it helps drainage).
I carefully transplanted my prize, and rewatered it, checking to make sure that the water drained out well. Any standing water will kill, or at least annoy, that rosemary. I placed it in a sunny window where it looks beautiful, and prayed that it would make it through the winter! Some overwinter much easier than rosemary. These include impatients, cacti, coleus, petunias, pansies (my personal favorite), and just about any other tender plant you can think of. I know of one lady who had a small tree in her home that she overwintered, along with a bourganvilla vine. The vine would twine itself through the tree during the winter- very pretty!
- Quarantine new plants for at least a week so they won't spread pests and diseases to other indoor plants. Spray them down with after bringing them in to kill off any unseen bugs.
If your plants seem top-heavy, give them a "haircut", but don't cut off more than 1/2 of their foliage. Doing this makes it easier for a plant's roots to adjust to the new conditions.
- Some plants are light sensitive and will go dormant no matter where you have them. Impatients will do this, dropping their flowers and even their leaves, but don't panic. As soon as the days get longer again, the plants will perk back up and start blooming again.
- Indoor plants (especially tropical ones) really need humidity, so if you can manage it, keep them in a bathroom with a shower, or put them in the bathroom during a shower once week. Another way to give them some humidity, is to mist them a few times a week. This is especially important for drier climates, such as the southwestern states.
- Make sure your plants have plenty of light. Put them in a south-facing window if you have one. If you don't have that option, consider putting in a florescent light under one of your upper kitchen cabinets or wherever you have your plants. Get a fixture with two florescent bulbs and replace one with a "grow light", that has the full light spectrum. You can find these at nurseries or on the larger gardening websites. You can also use a sun lamp, just be sure not to fry those plants!
- Bottom-watering is best for most plants, indoors and out. Water the roots, not the entire plant. Rosemary plants are really picky about watering. They like to be watered daily or a few times a week, but they don't like to sit in the water. I asked the plant department manager at Cub Foods how she got her rosemary to look so good. She says to put the pot in the sink, pour a 1/2-cup of water around the roots, and let all of the water drain down into the sink. She does this daily to the plants in the store. Most potted plants only need to be watered weekly or twice a week, depending on the plant itself. Check out some indoor gardening books from the library and research the needs of your plants.