Last updated on November 12th, 2012
YES, I KNOW IT’S NEARLY WINTER, but the plants in my upstairs bath are convinced that June has arrived. Would you like to meet these intrepid bloomers? Say “hello” in this photo gallery, and then I hope you’ll tell me what’s blooming in your own window garden:
This garden, which faces east, was made at an ordinary window that I outfitted with glass shelves and a broad sill. It is a cold window. There is no storm-sash — I removed it. I also removed the radiator from the room. Houseplants thrive in the humid conditions a cool room affords.
Now onto the houseplants:
On the sill, front row: a pink florist’s azalea and a purple African violet are flanked by a pair of Davallia fejeensis. Second row: a pink miniature rose (left); Pelargonium ‘Puritan White’ (center); and a newly-divided Boston fern, right.
A florist’s azalea will stay with you for years. Give it cool temperatures and daily water, and you can count on blooms for up to three months. In summer, keep the plant well-watered and fed (use an acidic formula), and flower buds will form in autumn.
Miniature roses are keepers, too. I recently picked up three from a local supermarket (two are in the Music Room downstairs). These want cool temperatures, moisture, and full sun (as much as that is possible in winter). When flowers fade, withhold all food and water, and give the plants a 3-week rest in a dim location. Then return the roses to full sun, resume watering, feed with a high-phosphorous formula, and a new crop of flower buds will quickly emerge.
First shelf: African violets. Okay, these do not love the cold. But they certainly enjoy moderate humidity. If you give them full winter sun, and pamper them with a high-phosphorous food, they will bloom for you almost continuously. I water mine from the top, but only with room-temperature or slightly-warmer water. Leaf spotting occurs when the temperature of the water is colder than the temperature of the leaves.
But you probably already knew this.
On the brackets: Persian cyclamens in pastel-pink. They are in clay pots that I painted periwinkle blue. The pots are set in glass bowls, because cyclamen is best watered from below. Details for growing and re-blooming this Cyclamen persicum.
Second shelf: More African violets. Some of these Saintpaulias are demanding close-ups:
Like this maroon-and-white one.
And this old-fashioned purple one.
I could go on and on. But instead, I’ll do a complete feature on African violets in a future post.
But not until you see this purple-edged blue one.
Can you tell that I love African violets?
Top shelf: I trained common (but uncommonly useful) Philodendron to climb up the window and to join together at the top. The vines produce an alluring green frame for this “still life with plants.”
There. I hope you enjoyed this little garden tour. Mind telling me what’s blooming in your own windows?
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The Window Garden in December
The Window Garden in February
Annie B says
That’s a beautiful window, Kevin! I have 2 purple, ruffled edge violets blooming in the kitchen window. In between is a glass vase with cuttings from summer’s dragon wing begonia-blooming like crazy. The window faces west and sometimes gets cold. There’s a plant light bulb way above. They are cheery companions to cook with. Love your posts…food and gardening are a great mix!
Absolutely beautiful, Kevin. And I have absolutely nothing blooming in my house. I do have a sweet potato vine in my kitchen, though. Does that count for anything?? I’m not good with house plants. Love yours though, so I’ll look at your pictures and enjoy them.
I have a collection of Christmas cactus in full bloom: double white, coral, red and double pink. It’s just gorgeous!
Kevin Lee Jacobs says
Annie B – Food and gardening are indeed a great mix.
Rosemeri – Sweet potato counts! Years ago, I placed a pair of sweet potatoes in jars at each end of a window. The vines grew with rocket-speed, producing a graceful green valance. Who needs curtains when you can have riotous vines?
Andrea – We must have the same cacti — they made an incredible show this year!
Wilma Tyler Dibelka says
Enjoyed seeing someone else put old oil lamp holders to good use. I use mine in the outdoor room to hold candles in summer and indoors to hold candles or plants in winter. Way to go.
Indoor plants are white flag, winter cactus, a mint pot, and leftover pelagonium.
Pauline Guzek says
Beautiful plants! Everything is so neat and clean! I used to have many plants in my house and then in a round of cleaning took them all out. I think I’ll be bringing some back!
Denise in Colorado says
A lovely sight for a cold Nov. morning, Kevin! I have Geraniums still blooming in my plant window although I cut them back when I brought them inside a few of them managed to put out a few more blooms! I just watered them. I wish I could grow African violets! I’m looking forward to your future post! 🙂
Nothing actually, but you have certainly inspired me! Thanks! ~Lynda
oh this is so pretty! I love it and I think it would brighten spirits here at our home in the winter. Such a good idea!
In my garage/greenhouse I have herbs:rosemary, parsley, chive, cilantro, lemon balm, and basil and flowers: geraniums, kalanchoe, marigolds, wax begonias, snapdragon, and nasturtium. In the rest of the house I go super low maintenance with lots of spider plants and Christmas cactus.
Renate Simsa says
It is nice to hear what people are able to get to bloom in their window gardens. Right now I have a pink and blue one (the blue has varigated leaves) from 1999 and three orchids that are deciding what to do. I had to drastically reduce my window garden, because the plants just refused to die, Amaryllis, Ferns, Cyclamen, ivy, spider plants, piggy back plants, they just took over, before I reduced, I had 84 plants.
Hello Kevin your window is one of my dreams!
In my kitchen’s big window I have a Bougainvillea growing over a arch that now surprised me with two lovely dark pink flowers, I hope it will have more flowers this winter and on the other side of the arch are growing tall two Stevia plants and both have tiny white flowers.
Thank you for mentioning that the Cyclamen plants need to be watered from below, I did not know it! During the Summer I had it outside under a apple tree when I brought it inside a few weeks ago it gave me a wonderful feeling to discover that under the leaves are growing 6 new little plants!
Beverly, zone 6 eastern PA says
Gorgeous window !
In my house, the Oxalis triangularis “Purple Shamrocks” are loaded with miniature pale pink trumpets on 8-10 ” high bloomstalks. They hover over the rich purple foliage which folds up each night as though to say prayers before bed. So heartwarming to see this plant burst forth as the once flamboyant yard goes rusty, dull and brown in fall.
I install Oxalis into the garden beds each May and allow them free reign for the season outside (3/4 sun). Each fall, I put half of them to sleep, removing foliage and soil from the tubers, inducing dormancy in a pot of sand in the cool, dark garage. When these are reawakened in spring, they are extremely eager to bloom and provide a fast, impressive show. The other half of the clump is potted to become a houseplant, well before the fall frost hits. It does shed some foliage at first when acclimating to indoor conditions, but continually sprouts new leaves and more flowers month after month in a south or west facing window.
Tubers are pale salmon, diminutive, scaly, pinkie-finger-like growths. They reproduce reliably well and can be easily shared with fellow plant people through division of the clump.
Pretty flower window set-up as always, Kevin. The African Violets look like a must-have. I brought a lot of plants indoors but only geranium, begonia, petunia seem to be doing well. I am guess the lack of humidity took its toll, since my plant leaves feel dry and some just fall off on touch. I am spraying water on the leaves to alleviate the situation. Hope it will work. BTW, I received the narcissus package over the weekend. Thank you so much. Wish me luck in forcing them indoors beautifully.
badger gardener says
Kevin, you always bring on a smile, this time w/ your transparent delight for your lovely African violets. In your future AV post I hope we can see how the “space-age” violet is doing (the one w/ the seeds taken from a violet that made a journey on a space shuttle). It gives new meaning to contemplating the cosmos when gazing at a flower.
Love your window garden.
My African Violets look like s_it. No flowers. Leaves dying more than growing. Or if I start getting seedlings growing next to the main plant and try to separate them, both plants die. I absolutely love these flowers and wish I was more successful growing them.
I did bring in a lot of plants from outside based on your recommendations. Geraniums are flourishing. Begonias – not so much. Coleus, sweet potato vine and a couple of other annuals I purchased are doing fantastically!
I also have several red violet plants. A friend of mine successfully grew a large one, but mine doesn’t do as well and I keep having to separate them as they grow. Friends who receive babies aren’t complaining!
Christmas cactus plants are blooming aggressively – probably because they have been rather neglected. They’re so beautiful!
Kevin–absolutely love your window garden. I’m lobbying my DH to put up a few glass shelves in the kitchen window, south facing but shaded by a porch. Right now there’s a Thanksgiving cactus in full gorgeous bloom (thanks for teaching me the difference!), also a red begonia from the summer garden. Orchids (phalenopsis) are sleeping right now, but the Rex begonia just finished up–love the leaves. I’m going to try again with African violets–you’ve inspired me!
Thanks for sharing your wonderful garden, tips, and recipes. I’m going to try your pumpkin pie next week.
Naomi Shelton says
Looking at the photos of your African Violets gets me all excited to acquire some new ones, different from those I have. I absolutely, unreservedly am in love with them and always have been! I have five to ten mature plants and a lot of younger ones that I’ve propagated. Just the other day I took a seed pod that had formed from one of the plants and opened it. The seeds are miniscule! I tho’t I would plant them and see what happened. The one of yours that I like the most is the pink speckled one. I’ve not seen one just like that before. So nice to have someone to share my A.F. obsession with! Thanks!
Naomi Shelton says
Oh, that should be A.V. obsession!
Kevin Lee Jacobs says
Naomi – I’m with you on African violets. I can’t imagine a window garden that doesn’t feature them!
Jacqueline Lee says
I have a small Meyer lemon tree on my table by the window, full of little white buds. In my kitchen window I have rosemary, spearmint, spider plant, miniature rose and ferns on the counter. Did you have your glass cut for you? What kind is strong enough for plants? Where can I get the glass brackets like yours? LOVE yours!!!
PEARL STONE says
yOU MADE ME GO TO HOUSE DEPOT AND BOUGHT EIGHT AFRICAN VIOLETS. tHE PROBLEM THOUGH IS HAVING TOO MUCH SUN ALL DAY!
I guess Ill have to think that problem away. .
Carole B. says
When I was younger I raised violets & grew some under lights. Joined a local violet club & was really into the hobby. Eventually as my family grew I discontinued my hobby. Now I am ageing & find it difficult to garden outside but at 82 am still growing mostly perennials. I recently purchased a violet at a local store & am growing it on my west facing sun porch. I have blinds so I am not letting it get too much sun. In the winter I always had luck growing them on a tension pole in an east window with curtain filtered light. Now I have double hung windows & not sure how to make a window garden. I do have a coffee table in front of the couch that sets in front of the windows. Not sure if that would be close enough for the violets to get light. Anyway your AV’s are beautiful & I do wish I could arrange a window garden. All your tips for growing have me interested. Have never ordered on line & there is only one grocery in my location that gets plants once in a while.