Home & Food
Closing Up Your
bet your summer container plantings aren't really
benefiting from the "back to school-oh
I love a clean notebook" boost and aren't
dying as gracefully as summer itself is. You're
going to have to help them through this!
by: Debbie Rodgers
All good things eventually
come to an end and so summer is waning, even as autumn
gives most of us a fresh start. I'll bet your summer container
plantings aren't really benefiting, though, from the "back
to school-oh I love a clean notebook" boost and aren't
dying as gracefully as summer itself is. You're going
to have to help them through this!
I understand if you just
can't bear the thought of waving good-bye to your wave
petunias just yet. That's okay - you can bring some of
your tropical annuals indoors for the winter, to ease
the pain of parting with them.
If you have the space, a
sunny window and enough moisture, you can save palms,
ferns and other tropicals. Likely though, you'll have
more success with taking cuttings and helping your plants
clone themselves. (It's kind of like Day of the Triffids
without the evil.)
Pick a healthy plant with
no nasty bugs or blights. With a sharp knife, cut off
non-flowering stems 3-4 inches (8-11 cm) long, and strip
the leaves off the lower two-thirds of the stem. Dip the
cut edges in rooting hormone, available at your local
nursery, and stick them in dampened sand or peat moss,
or a glass of tap water. Place the pot, tray or glass
in a sunny spot and wait 3-4 weeks. If the cuttings are
in sand or peat, don't forget to water to keep them damp
throughout that time.
When the roots are at least
1 inch (2.5 cm) long, you can plant them in potting soil
in attractive containers and winter them on a sunny windowsill
or table. This method works well with annuals such as
geraniums (pelargonium), coleus, and some ivies. You can
also try propagating impatiens this way.
Now that you've rescued what
you can, get ruthless and empty all of your other outdoor
containers. If you have a compost heap, chop up the remains
and toss them there. Soil too! This is particularly important
if you've been using terracotta or ceramic containers,
as the moisture in the soil will expand when it freezes
and you'll end up with cracked pots. (If there are any
crackpots around my house, I want them to be of the human
Next, wash out the empty
containers to remove any disease and fungal spores. If
your terracotta pots have a white build-up from water,
potting soil and fertilizer chemicals, soak them for 24
hours in white vinegar and water with some baking soda
added. Then scrub them with a stiff brush in warm soapy
water. Rinse thoroughly.
Air or sun dry the containers
and then stack them with layers of newspaper between each.
If you have a spot to store them where they won't freeze
over the winter months, all the better. If not, as long
as you've made certain the pots are dry and well layered
with paper, they should be fine until the spring.
Now you're ready to put on
a show of fall color. I can tell you EVERYTHING you need
to know. Check under “Fall Planting Tips”
on the fre*e articles page of my webs-site.
About The Author
Debbie Rodgers, the haven
maven, owns and operates Paradise Porch, and is dedicated
to helping people create outdoor living spaces that nurture
and enrich them. Her latest how-to guide “Attracting
Butterflies to Your Home and Garden” is now available
on her web site. Visit her at http://www.paradiseporch.com
and get a free report on “Eight easy ways to create
privacy in your outdoor space”.