DID YOU OVERWINTER ANY PLANTS THIS YEAR? I overwintered several of mine, including the petunia pictured above. These rescued plants usually require extra attention by March if they are to prosper outdoors in hanging baskets, window boxes and patio pots when warm weather arrives. I care for mine this way:
Petunia. Before I brought this plant inside last fall, I cut its stems back to 3 inches. Growth quickly resumed (and how!) under fluorescent lights in my cool study. Its fragrant, white trumpets have appeared nonstop since February. I feed the plant with every watering, using a 1/2 tsp. high-phosphorous formula dissolved in a gallon of room-temperature water. If your petunia is in a sunny window, reduce the food to a 1/4 tsp. per gallon of water. Transfer the potted petunia to a basket now, if it is to be a hanging specimen during summer.
Impatiens. What amazing winter-companions these make. They are never without flowers. My lavender-pink variety, above, grown from cuttings taken last September, has prospered in the cool east window of my guestroom. Impatiens request but 3 things in winter: cool temperatures, all-purpose fertilizer and daily water. Their only enemy is the red spider, a microscopic pest who appears when indoor conditions are hot and dry. A weekly shower with cold water keeps the pest under control. If, in summer, you want a fresh crop of color for a shady garden bed, take cuttings from your overwintered plants in March.
Fancy-leaved Geranium (Pelargonium). I hope you have at least one of these plants. They are becoming quite rare. I bought ‘Mrs. Henry Cox’ (pictured above), a Victorian-era variety with brilliant vermilion, purple and yellow coloring, from Logees several years ago. I’ve kept the plant going through propagation efforts every autumn. Cuttings, 2 inches in length, root quickly in 3-inch pots of good compost. Pinch off new growth throughout March and April to achieve bushy plants in time for summer, and feed with any houseplant food from February on. Outdoors in summer, fancy-leaved pelargoniums make stunning edging-plants for a bed composed of the more common zonal-types.
Zonal Geranium (Pelargonium). I find that common zonal geraniums overwinter best when they enter the house as young, rooted cuttings. They grow in good health all winter if provided coolness, full sun and moderate humidity. I grow mine on a pebble tray in my library window. If you have big, overwintered specimens, and they have grown tall and leggy, proceed this way: Take tip cuttings in March, and root them individually in 4-inch pots of well-draining compost. These will be of blooming size by late May.
Ivy-leaved Geranium (Pelargonium). See this post for winter care.
Wax Begonia. Started as cuttings in autumn, and provided full sun or just bright light, you can count on this B. semperflorens to bloom all winter long. It is not bothered by pests, nor is it fussy about humidity. Feed with a high-phosphorous formula. I cut mine back in March, and then root the cut pieces in a bulb-pan filled with compost. The young plants are then transferred to the circle beneath my birch tree in late May.
Did you rescue any garden plants last fall? How are they doing now?
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