September 23, 2006. In my house you don’t need to look at the calendar to know that fall has arrived – signs of the change of season become more evident daily.
Freshly cut coleus stems now live in water-filled glass jars on a bright window sill. I take cuttings from the tips of the healthiest looking coleus in my gardens, and wash them in water that contains a small amount of dishwashing liquid. This, hopefully, will remove any tiny aphids hiding underneath the leaves. Once roots sprout, these coleus will become brightly colored potted plants that will help soothe my need for brightly colored plants during cold weather months. If I manage to prevent aphid infestations, these coleus will also serve as starters for some of next year’s coleus plantings.
The potted indoor plants I moved outdoors after the weather finally warmed are slowly finding their way back inside. A jasmine was still in bloom when moved to its current indoor spot. Last winter this plant bloomed through November and again in February – filling the room with sweet jasmine scent.
Two potted tropical hibiscus, also still in bloom, will soon be doused with insect-killing Safer spray. One of these plants has lived through 17 years of moving outdoors in summer and indoors in winter. The parent plant produced an offshoot that I’m training into the single-stem, tree-like standard pictured at left. Both hibiscus benefit from full-sun locations during summer months. To offset their bright orange color, I under plant with purple and blue flowering annuals – here you can see this year’s blue ageratum – which I’ll remove before bringing the plants inside. The hibiscus will continue to bloom – often through Thanksgiving – then I’ll cut them back harshly, leaving only minimal leaves. The pair will soon sprout new leaves from the remaining stems, and with light bi-monthly fertilization from late January onward and continued pruning for shape, they will be ready for re-acclimation to outdoor light once temperatures remain above 50 degrees next spring/summer.
Two scented geraniums – I think they are peppermint – that spent the warm days soaking up full sun, will also come back inside. These survive cold seasons in a room that receives a hour or two of morning winter sun and otherwise bright light, but they always require a serious pruning after a month or so of coming back inside. Often I will water root scented geranium cuttings for future plants, but usually do not do so until January or so.
The rest of my indoor greens – ivy, rabbit’s foot ferns, a variegated bromeliad, and a potted lemon grass I kept alive through last winter to see it thrive in warmer outdoor temps – will come back in as I rearrange furniture to make room.
Plus, for the first time I will try to overwinter gerbera daisies that grew so nicely on my deck this summer. I’d love to hear from anyone with experience saving gerberas from year to year – maybe you can pass on some tips?