Bringing the Garden Indoors

In more late Augusts than I care to remember I've brought the garden indoors for the winter. I've wrestled enormous beefsteak begonias to get them to part with a division, potted up rosemary layerings snipped from parent plants, rooted geranium cuttings (instead of jamming big plants into small pots, 1970s Victory Garden host Jim Crockett's words), combined peculiar pairings of succulents and cacti into shallow clay pots (Agave Mr. Ripple meet cactus Fairy Castle), uprooted and hauled in lush bananas, plucked baby elephant ears pups, took fast-rooting cuttings like Persian Shield, coleus and begonias for the propagator.

The only pampering this collection of "houseplants" gets is a couple of jury-rigged plant lights (shop lights from my husband's workshop in the basement) and one or two plastic saucers of water and stones for a little extra humidity which don't do much in our drafty Connecticut Victorian. I water once or twice a week depending on how much sun comes in the south facing windows and I feed them once a month if I remember.

With little consistency in temperature from one room to the next, most of them do tolerably well in the cooler indoor climate though. The camellias are budded and ready to burst. The oleander, lavender and bay laurel are hanging in there. Leaves picked from the catnip stuck out of paw's reach between ivies and a mandevilla are keeping the six cats amused. Three woody brugmansia cuttings are leafing out. The low maintenance Ifafa lily will be blooming shortly. Three bamboos are sending up new shoots. And even the 7+ foot banana sports glossy gray-green leaves.

As much as my family has groaned over the years about the house becoming a jungle each fall, one daughter finally admitted that she loved the plants closing in the house at the closing in of the year. And the other daughter made me promise as she was getting in the car to head back to school late August that the Dwarf Cavendish banana in the side yard would be brought indoors. Or it would have to be crammed into the packed car right then and there to go live with her in the dorm.


  1. Wow, I haven't been adventurous enough to try things I'd need to bring in. In my mild climate we do get to grow a lot of almost-tender things, but definitely not the tropicals.

    I am in love with bananas and elephant ears. Maybe I'll succumb to their charms next year!

  2. Where do you find the room?? And I'd love to see pictures. ;~)

  3. TC,
    Plants crowd south and west windowsills. We have an old slate table top that we grabbed from a school science lab renovation and mounted it on a rectangular metal stand. It's in the entryway along south-facing glass sliding doors with shop lights hanging above it. A couple baker's racks picked up from tag sales help out too, one has shop lights mounted on it. A smaller stand in another downstairs room and a wide windowsill upstairs, all facing south, complete the surface supports for bringing the garden indoors. Years of practice and much trial and error.

  4. Ahhh, sounds like the perfect set up. ;~)