Summer Garden Plants make Great Winter House Plants10/11/2012


Begonias (moderate light) - This year was a great year for begonias with many new and unusual varieties being widely available.  My favorite was the Rex begonias with unusual leaf patterns and textures that make a nice houseplant.  The trick with Begonias is High Humidity and moderate.  Consider a bathroom location or put them on a pebble tray.  They also like warm soil and a chance to dry out slightly between watering. 

Geraniums (bright direct light) – Whenever I think of geraniums, I can’t help to think of a co-worker who brought her geraniums into the office winter after winter, allowing all of us to enjoy the beauty of her Geraniums throughout the year.  Many gardeners have been overwintering geraniums for years by allowing them to go dormant until spring.  However if you are lucky enough like my friend Jane and have a bright south facing window, you can have repeat blooms all winter.  Potted geraniums make the best choice for indoor plants, as they do not like their roots disturbed.  Bring them in before frost and give them a light trim.  Water when dry, feed monthly and they should bloom and be pest free. 

Caladium (low to moderate light) -  Caladiums are just as much an indoor plant as they are outdoor.  They can tolerate full shade outdoors, but appreciate indirect light indoors.  Keep their soil moist but not wet.  Caladiums don’t like to be cold, preferring  temperatures between 60 to 85 degrees.  If the leaves start to yellow and the plant is struggling, allow it to die back and rest until spring.  Store in a cool, dry spot and repot in February or March for the spring.

Coleus – (Moderate Light) – With the new varieties of coleus, this plant is a real winner for bringing inside.  I recently used some cuttings in a floral arrangement, and found that they lasted a good 10 days without wilting.  The key of course is fully hydrating upon cutting.  How great will it be to have access to that foliage all winter long?  If your plants are too large to bring in, try rooting from cuttings.  This is very easy to do, and you will be rewarded with a fresh new plant.  Give coleus indirect bright light.  They like to be warm, butr will tolerate cooler nights and temperatures down to about 55 degrees.  Keep the soil  moist and feed monthly.  Be sure to pinch off any flowers as they appear to keep the plant from going to seed.

Tropical Hibiscus -  (Bright direct light) Hibiscus adapts very well to indoor and may bloom all winter if kept in a sunny window.  You can trim the plants, but recognize that hibiscus grows slowly in the winter and you may not see any new growth.  Allow the soil to dry between waterings, but feel free to mist daily.  If you don’t have an ideal warm sunny window, opt for a cool spot with average light and let them drop their leaves and go dormant.  Keep an eye out for aphids. 

Hot Peppers (Bright direct light)  Believe it or not, peppers are tropical perennials and can be kept growing and producing for several years.  Smaller hot peppers (think the ornamental, yet edible peppers) are the easiest to bring indoors.  As with growing peppers outdoors, thely like to be a little dry and a little underfed. 

Herbs:  Basil, Chives, Parsley, Lemon Grass, Rosemary (Bright light) – Many herbs do well indoors.  For annuals and biennials, like basil and parsley, it’s best to start with small young plants.  It’s hard to kill chives, even if they are hit by frost, they will rejuvenate indoors.  Rosemary and Bay Leaf are wonderful when potted and brought inside.  Both were very happy on my kitchen counter all last winter.  Be sure to give them plenty of bright light, or they will get leggy.  Trim and use your herbs to keep them bushy and full.