When the colder weather arrives and forces us indoors, we often want to bring more of Mother Nature inside with us. For the new gardener, this might seem as simple as grabbing a plant, putting it in a pot and placing it inside you home – and there is plenty of bad advice online to unfortunately reinforce this idea. But if there is one thing to get me “from 0 to 90” it is misinformation about basic facts, simple ideas and practical solutions for growing plants, and gardening in general, that have been around forever.
And, you ask, why have these methods and rules been around forever?
Because they work.
The really frustrating thing is, when a new gardener kills a plant by trying to get it to grow where it just won’t like it. It’s often taken personally and the newbie thinks, “Well, I must have a black thumb! I can’t grow plants!” When, in fact, that person was just misinformed – probably by another newbie that isn’t paying attention to the tried and true rules of gardening.
So, let’s recap here.
About Growing in Different Places
The golden garden rule, “Put the right plant in the right place” applies to more than just hardiness zones and the amount of sunlight you get. It’s important to consider this rule when you are growing in different places.
- Indoor plants are tropical plants that need to stay 60F (15C) or above, all year long. Taking temperature into consideration, you can see gardeners in the warmer, southern areas can grow the same plants indoors or outdoors for the most-part. Generally speaking, tropical or indoor plants use the change in light to know when to go dormant and rest.
- If you are in a cold area, you can bring outdoor plants inside for a day or three, just like a living Christmas tree. Acclimatizing it, or the miniature garden, for a couple of days on the way in, and on the way out. Here’s how to do that.
This works the other way too.
- Outdoor plants are different for the colder, northern areas because, well, it’s a different climate, right? These plants need the cold-temperature-change to know when to go dormant and rest. Most of these cold-hardy plants can NOT be grown successfully indoors in winter because they simply won’t go dormant to rest. The plants will think it’s still summer and literally grow themselves to death, or eventually die trying to.
- And lot of these “outdoor plants” can’t be grown in the hotter climes while some can. This is why we have the “heat zones” in our store listings as well as the cold zones. (Google AHS Heat Zone Map to figure out your heat zone.) Here are some trees that can do both: our favorite Boxwood, and we have an indoor/outdoor Cypress, for example.
Here are a few more tips:
- Not all plants need protecting from winter – if you’ve chosen your plants correctly and they are hardy to your cold zone. These outdoor plants will prefer to live outside. By putting them in a dark garage or put in a basement under lights you won’t achieve the right climate for them to thrive and they will get stressed out. Stress = pests and disease.
- If you do get any extreme temperature dips, cover them in place for the duration of the hard freeze. Put an upside-down poly pot over them at night, a blanket of burlap or maybe both. I did this for the 10 day freeze a couple years about here in Seattle with success. I uncovered them each morning and put the cover back on at night. Here’s more about that here.
- Be cautious of who and where you buy your plants. Unfortunately, even garden centers will just want the sale and will tell you, ‘Oh, just wrap it for the winter and it’ll be fine.” Trust authority with experience.
- The good gardeners will want you to succeed and tell you the truth about things you might not want to hear. Trust them.
Growing in Different Ways
“Chose the right plant for the right place” not only applies to where you grow plants, it’s important to consider HOW you are going to grow the plants too. Here are some considerations before you jump into a project willy-nilly:
A Little About Dish Gardening, Tea Cup Gardening, Windowsill Gardening, Terrariums…
All these types of gardening small: dish, tea cup, windowsill or terrarium gardening use pots or containers with no drainage hole. Hey, they are great for that indoor spot on the table, right? You can put it anywhere! You don’t have to worry about the water dripping all over your wood furniture and onto the floor. BUT you must chose the right plants that will enjoy that kind of growing environment.
Here are some deets:
- You’re aiming for either a “wet garden” or a “dry garden.”
- Wet gardens = all the plants in that pot will enjoy having wet or damp roots all the time. We love the Violet Barn for dish garden plants. See them here.
- Dry gardens = all the plants prefer to live in drier soil, with little water, letting the soil dry completely out before watering it again – sparingly. Often called ‘tropical succulents’ – find them at your local independent garden center.
- And I know there are some of you that are planning to show your gardens off early next year at the big garden shows, here is more insight into the plants you can use for the shows here.
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