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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Overwintering Your Plants. (and a few winter tips for houseplants)


Here is a loaded question if I ever got one! It is a good one, and lucky for me, it was one that I knew how to answer...hopefully...it was also one that I had been planning to do anyways. So..Lets get started.

Renee wrote to me:
"Hey there! I'd love to ask you a few questions....do over winter geraniums? I read that they are slow to bloom after being overwintered. Do you bring impatiens and begonias in for the winter? I hate to lose them. I plan on bringing in some asparagus fern and golden creeping jenny, I know the fern will do fine indoors, but not sure about the jenny..I just love the look of it, so I'll try. Oh yeah, and some coleus is coming in too. I'm going to run out of room, but this being my first year with more than a hanging basket or two, I just can't part with these "babies" that I've raised. (remember, all my gardens are in containers, but I still have to take them up and put them in different ones.) When you first started were you like that? Okay, last question, what do you use for aphids? They got at my petunias, I tried some soap spray, it helped some. It's weird though, my pot of mostly white ones got them bad, the pink pot, not so much. I think they got whiteflies too, but they are on the top side of the leaves, not the underside.Thanks to you I really have the gardening bug, I'm loving it. I applied to the Master Gardener program and waiting to see if I get accepted. There were about 35 people, and they can only take 15. I should know by tomorrow, (Friday), keep your fingers crossed for me please. And again, thanks for the inspiration.Take care of yourself.Renee "

My goodness! You are sounding more like me than I think you will like to! lol
I am so jealous of you and your master gardener classes....Hunky Gardener and you will have lots to share with us after you both finish! I am flattered that you would even consider asking me if you are doing such a wonderful program...please let me know how you make out!

Before you bring anything in from outside, you need to make sure it is not infected with disease or pests. Bringing in a plant with issues, will infect the entire plant population of your home! If there are bugs...de-bug...if there are leaves or branches that don't look healthy....remove them. In the past I have placed plants (that are small enough to fit) into a large garbage bag, and then sprayed the inside of the bag with RAID....closed the bag and left it for a few hours...or even overnight. This helped to kill off any bugs that were in the plant...and then I gave my plant a good bath with a garden hose or the shower head to rinse off any dirt or stray pests.

I have a Geranium in my greenhouse right now that is 6 years old. It is a white one and I got it for a Mother's Day gift from my kids one year and have not been able to part with it. I had heard a lot of things about wintering a Geranium, and have tried it several different ways, and it seems that it doesn't (or didn't for this plant) make a lot of difference how you do it.
The first year or two I just put it into the garage and sat them close to the window so it could get a little light. It lost a few leaves and did not do a bit of growing. I did not water very often, just about once every two weeks to a month, as it was dormant and I did not want to kill it. Our garage was not heated per-say, but we did have a small space heater in there to keep the temp above freezing (we had paint etc in there too). When it was time for me to start planting my seeds in the greenhouse and I had the heat going in there, I just moved it over and it did very well.

The last couple of years, I have kept it either in the sunroom of our house or in the greenhouse over the winter. I do cut it back quite a bit -about 1/3 of the plant...but that was mostly to keep it small enough to keep in my spaces. Over the winter it did bloom, and I would have to dead head, but it did really well.
I have not had any issues personally with the delay in blooming you mentioned, or with anything else to do with the Geraniums. I did leave one to grow and not cut it back...and let me tell you it was huge! It ended up being about 4 feet tall and I had to train it up a trellis to keep it standing. Sadly it got infested with bugs when I put it outside the following year and I had to let it go...

I have also had Begonia and Impatiens and Coleus in my greenhouse over the winter. They did fine....but I have so many things that I start in the spring that I ran out of space quickly and had to move them inside the house...I found that they tend to reach for the light in my house, but if I kept them cut back a bit when they got leggy, they did fine as soon as the days were a bit longer...in the greenhouse they slowed in growth a bit, but were healthy and did well the next season. All of these are also sold as houseplants here so they are a safe bet to bring inside...provided they are healthy and bug free.

The asparagus fern and the creeping jenny are also houseplant material so they should do great inside as long as you give them enough natural light.

As for the aphid part of the question...there is a post coming that will deal with this nasty issue...as I too have had trouble with them. I am researching the best ways and the most effective ways to handle these pests....I think they are there just because they know they bug me!

Here are some tips to help keep your plants happy in the winter....
1. Water moderately. They are dormant in the winter and will not need as much water.
2. Refrain from fertlizing. They don't need it if they are resting!
3. Be aware of the light they are getting. In the winter the days are shorter and they may need to be moved closer to the window.
4. Avoid drafty areas. Many houseplants are not able to tolerate cold drafts and will have leaf loss if they are hit by the cool air from outside. Do be careful not to put them on the direct path of a forced air heating vent either...that will cause issues as well.
5. Keep a watch for pests....dry winter air can be the playground for bugs. Keep the humidity around your plants up by adding some pebbles to the tray under the pot, and keeping it filled with water to add moisture to the air around the plant.
6. Dust. Dirty leaves are not able to breathe. Not breathing is not good! Keep the leaves dust free if you can, you could shower them in the tub, or simply wipe the leaves periodically.

Hope my answers helped you....I am not an expert...just a girl with a greenhouse and a love of plants...and growing them! see you next time!

10 comments:

Chris said...

Wow, another garden lesson. We're so lucky to have you. Makes me want to dive in again, but I'm only home a few months of the year, so it just doesn't work for me. So, I'll just enjoy your garden. :)

Hugs,
Chris

judicreations said...

Oh my so much great information for gardeners both indoors and out! Your geranium looks soooo good. I'll have to remember your tips.

I am right now sooo pleased that a "baby" african violet who's "mother" I knew and used to have lots and lots of flowers all the time, has had its first real bout of flowers and I was so excited. Its a huge plant that is actually 4 in the pot now. Anyway last night I looked and the other 2 have flowers growing too that crept up on me. What is making it bloom so nicely now.
The plant is about 2 years old.

Come by my blog I have something for you.

Thank you again for the great post.
Have a nice day
Judi

Jessica said...

i love you girl, thank you for everything.

Happy To Be said...

GM, Toots Now I need to know if I should bring my Spider plant inside also this winter as I have lots of babies on it and don'y want to lose it...as girl you are the one who helped my grow it...hope you have a great day...Hugs and smiles Gloria

Shelia said...

Tootsie,you should write a book! You know everything about gardening!! I'm so impressed!!
Thanks for stopping by and I hope you're doing well.
Be a sweetie,
Shelia ;)

imjacobsmom said...

Well, I gues I better put on my glasses and get my head out of the dentist office - afterall it's my day off! In Minnesota the kids get a few day break in mid-october called MEA - and because the Dr.'s wife is a teacher he takes those days off, too! Yippee! for me! Anywho, at first I thought your headline was Overwhitening Your...I just wanted to add my two cents, I tried bringing in my geraniums and all of my herbs, but we have a daylight basement and I put them in front of the window, but by about Jan-Feb its as if they get dried out by the gas forced air heat. They just get dry and brittle and make a big mess for me. I must be doing something wrong. I water them and snip them back - I don't know. Also, I keep forgetting to tell you that your new blog design is cute. ~ Robyn

squawmama said...

What helpful ideas... you know thr only thing I have is the herb garden...small... but my cousin is a huge gardener so I am copying this and sending it right off to her... Thanks for all your helpful information...

Hugs,
Donna

SchmeckyGirl said...

My petunias died because I forgot to water them. Gary said I wasted our money. I told them they don't live that long. lol. I think he knew better...

judicreations said...

Hi there
Its me again.
I just wanted to say come by my blog tomorrow I'm having a giveaway!
Judi

Renee said...

I guess I never thanked you for your helpful answers here last fall. My geraniums are looking good after some leaf loos etc at the height of winter, and ready to go outside soon. Thanks again.