of our favorites can be over-wintered in their own pots, including
tender herbaceous ones like impatiens, geraniums (below left), parsely,
basil, and other herbs; shrubby ones like azaleas, hibiscus, fuschias
and rosemary (right), and even some vines like mandevilla and
In most cases, you must cut back the
plants quite drastically (especially the vines and geraniums) to ensure
that they will be full and bushy, and to minimize the shock of the
climate change on the plant. Keep pinching back new shoots to
encourage bushiness throughout the winter on flowering plants, vines,
fuschia and rosemary.
Pinch back basil and other herbs to keep
from getting leggy. Dry the herb trimmings for later use if you
have more than you need at one time.
you bring in your plants for the winter, check to see if they are
pot-bound and pot up in a one-size larger pot if they are. You
should do this in spring when you put them outside, rather than fall,
but better late than never.
If you are digging up plants from the
garden, leave as much native soil on the roots as you can to cause the
least disturbance, and pot up in appropriate sized pots, adding
soil-less mixture as required to fill. Water all your plants well
then bring in and put under lights.
For more information, see Fall
Cleanup - the section on bringing plants indoors.
Helper and Plant Problems for more
information and tips on indoor care.
Mist them well when they are in
place. Keep the room as cool as you can until they begin to
acclimatize to the indoor environment. Then gradually let the
temperature rise if necessary.
Raising from seed or
Many of our favorite flowering plants and
herbs must be started in January to March for summer bloom, for example,
schizanthus and impatiens, and the purple basil below. Others can be
started as late as one month before planting-out after last frost.
In all cases, use the plastic flats with the inserts to hold individual
plants (usually 12" by 24"- bottom portion is shown in the top
photo). These come in kits with a clear plastic top that keeps
humidity in and lets light through. Read the planting instructions
carefully, as some seed
cannot be covered with soil (e.g. impatiens). See the Seed
Starter list for starting different types of seeds.
Time the lights for 14-16 hours a day, and place 1 inch above the top of
the plastic cover.
Once the first pair of true leaves
emerges, lift one end of the plastic cover up for a few days to
gradually accustom the seedlings to the drier air before removing
it. Plants like tomatoes and peppers may get tall and leggy very
quickly. Simply repot, planting the seedling deeper in a slightly
larger pot. Tomatoes and peppers root from the stem, so
progressively deeper plantings as they grow indoors helps them develop
large, deep root systems to get a good foothold in the garden
later. If you find that they are growing far too quickly, cut back
on the light to about 10-12 hours a day. See Seedling
Helper for more information.
Tip cuttings from coleus at left, bottom of the stem to just below a
leaf node and remove the bottom leaves. Remove any flower buds and
nip off the growing tip to just above a leaf node.
Place the cutting in moist growing medium, and cover with a transparent
cover to keep moisture in. Plastic placed over a wire
"cage" made of bent coat-hanger wire works well. Secure
the plastic around the pot with an elastic band. Place in bright
location or under lights that are 4 inches above the cuttings, but NOT
in direct sun until signs of new growth appear. For more
information on cuttings and propagating plants, see Plant