Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Overwintering Plants

Well, it's that time again. Time to prepare the beds for winter. Last week I dug up the dahlias, cannas and glads. Some people have success keeping the glads in the ground here, but it's borderline. Since we never know how cold it will get (had -40c several years back) I dig them up too.

I am blessed with a stone cold cellar under my very old porch, that's the right temperature and damp enough to keep them fairly well over the winter. I do lose the little dahlias so I keep them in big clumps until spring. I split them in the spring, if possible. They have their "eyes" then so I can make sure each split has a growing piece.
The little pieces dry out, so this year I plan to bring them upstairs around Christmas and soak them all in water for a few days before putting them back into cold storage. I also planted a few small ones in pots of soil and watered them before putting some in the cellar and I put some on a sunny window to grow as houseplants for the winter.

Wintering them over as houseplants is an experiment and something I have not tried before. I cut them right back and let them dry out before potting them up and they have small sprouts now. We'll see how it goes. I have read that they don't do well indoors and are prone to spider mites. I have some tobacco handy to boil and make organic insecticide. I wouldn't spray it on food items but I don't plan to eat the dahlias. (Dahlias are edible, btw ;-)
I labelled the large clumps and put them in plastic bags full of cedar chips and put them on a stone shelf in the cellar. In the past I have wrapped them in newspaper and put into cardboard boxes but, as I said, the little ones have dried up in the past so too much moisture is not a problem. Last year I tossed them all in a heavy plastic storage container and the big ones survived and even sprouted before I got them potted in early spring.

I like the soaking in water at Christmas idea. I will soak the geraniums and
four o'clocks too.

I dug up the showy geraniums this year and am attempting to winter those roots over in the cellar. This is the first year for this also. I washed the soil off and hung them upside down in the cellar with the onions. Some I potted up to grow as houseplants. I do this every year with geraniums and it works great. They bloom their little heads off all winter long and get quite large. I usually make several cuttings in the early spring so I have a lot of them for the big pots outside in June.
Another item I am attempting to winter over for the first time this year is the rosemary. I have 5 large, beautiful plants and don't want to lose them over the winter. I potted them all up and put two in the house and three in the cellar. I plan to keep them on the dry side in both places. I have also read that rosemary doesn't do well indoors, but we'll see how it goes.

I have some flourescent lights I would like to install for an indoor winter garden. I'm just not sure how to do the wiring and I need to get bulbs for them, I think. I haven't really looked at it yet. I'm sure I'll figure it out. I have become quite adept at DIY scrounging, troubleshooting and puzzles! I like a challenge!

I want this indoor garden enough to spend some time on it soon. I'm hoping to grow some tomatoes, peppers and lettuce indoors all winter! I have a large patio door that faces south with no overhang and lots of space for shelving. I only need to supplement the lighting at both ends of the day during the cheap power hours and maybe all day on weekends when days are their shortest.