It is getting chilly out there especially at night - winter is coming so saving plants for next year is high on my to-do list. Some tender plants cannot be left outside even with winter protection so bring them inside as soon as possible before they decline too far and can’t be revived. Fuchsias, geraniums (Pelargonium spp.), angel trumpets (Brugmansia spp., Datura spp.), bougainvilleas, coleus and other tender tropical can be brought inside and used as temporary houseplants.
I have to warn you that bringing in plants from the outside is a bit messy. They drop their leaves and flowers in protest to the new environment, but after the initial shock, most should sport new growth in no time. Before you bring them in, wipe down their pots with soapy water; remove dead and infected plant parts, flowers, flower buds, weeds and debris from the soil surface and any free loading slugs and bugs. It is not necessary to repot the plants, but if you do, use potting soil, not garden soil as it contains pathogens. Cut back each stem by a half to a third. Propagate those cut stems if you wish to make more plants, as they will make great cuttings.
Wash the plants with dish washing liquid in lukewarm water by squeezing a soapy sponge all over them. For small plants, dip them upside down in a bucket or sink full of soapy water. Allow them to drip dry. Quarantine these new plants from other houseplants as also from each other so any bugs or diseases don’t spread.
Once plants are cleaned up, move them to a bright sunny window or under grow light. Use a timer to keep the light on for 8 to 12 hours. Water plants with lukewarm water thoroughly wetting the soil. Water again when the top ½ inch of soil is dry to the touch.
If plants grow but are leggy, weak and pale they are not receiving adequate light. If plants become mottled, pale and dusty with wee spider webs, water more often as spider mites love dry soil. Get a magnifying glass and look under the foliage for tiny spiders. Wash the plant with a soapy sponge or dunk into a bucket or of lukewarm soapy water.
If using geraniums as temporary houseplants is not going to work for you, store them in a dark, frost free place. Keep them in their pots but allow the soil to dry or hang unpotted plants upside down by their roots. Although both these methods put the plants into dormancy, don’t allow the soil or hanging roots to dry out too much. Check and water potted geraniums every few weeks and spray the roots of hanging geraniums every week.
Use the thermal heat of the earth to keep fuchsias toasty warm during the winter by burying them, pot and all, in one of your garden beds. Just dig a hole big enough to bury the entire pot then firm soil around it. Either add about 6 inches of soil on top of the plant or use fallen leaves. Don’t forget to put a stake in the ground to remember where it is come spring.
Here are some of my previous blog postings. They cover a wide range of topics from bugs to my botanical excursions and conventions. Click on whichever interests you on the titles below for easy navigation.