Gardening: Plan to take your plants inside

Fall is fast approaching and it is time to start thinking about which plants to bring inside. These usually include tropical, succulents and ones that can be overwintered and used again next year. Taking the plants from the outside climate into a building creates a shock similar to what bedding plants experience in the spring when taken from the greenhouse. To lessen the shock, bring the plants in for the night and return them outside for the daytime keeping them inside longer until they are not returned outdoors. Suddenly bringing plants from outside into a warm building will shock plants often causing them to loose leaves and to take up little moisture.

Be careful that you are only taking plants inside. Check to see if insects have made their home in or on the plant before it is moved. Check the leaves, bottom and tops, and areas where the leaves join the stems. Occasionally ants will have found a home in the soil, so keep an eye out for them. If possible, isolate the new plants from existing house plants. If insects are found, decide if it is worth trying to eradicate the creatures or leave the plant outside.

Tropical plants that are commonly found in planters can be removed, potted up and placed in bright areas. They will grow slowly at this time of year but nless they are under lights they will not put out much new growth until the days lengthen.

Succulents are full of liquid making them very susceptible to light frosts. Even with bright light, most succulents and cacti are dormant in the fall and winter months. Water them sparingly.

Geraniums have been over wintered inside for generations. There are a number of ways to keep geraniums. None are right or wrong. Use what works for you. One way is to encourage the plant to become dormant by placing it in a cool area with dull light and minimal water. The plant will exists until the days are longer then it will put out new growth. When space is at a premium, cut back the top growth of the geranium as a few leaves will support the plant in its dormant state. Earlier generations dug up geraniums each fall and removed all the soil from the roots. They would then wrap the roots in paper and hang them in the cold room or root cellar. This method still works but success is dependent on the storage area. The roots must be kept cool but not be allowed to dry out.

Geraniums also do well when they are taken inside and placed in bright sunny windows or under artificial light. With extra light they will keep all their leaves and might even put out a new leaf or two.

To over winter Fuchsia plants, place them in a bright cool window and water when needed. Increase the amount of sunlight and water the plant receives in February to encourage new growth. Cuttings can be taken as soon as new growth appears.

Spikes or Dracaenas are also easy to over winter. They, like the other plants, survive in a dormant state in a cool area with some sunlight. These plants will become large specimen plants if they are kept for a number of years.

Take time to decide what is worthwhile to over winter and what is not. Space and time usually play a big part in this decision

Linda Tomlinson is a horticulturalist that lives near Rocky Mountain House. She can be reached at your_garden@hotmail.com.

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