Not all of them, that’s for sure. It happens every October. Even as I write this, I am thinking wearily about the one big one that’s still out there.
I should really pause Mad Men and bring it in right now.
The good part of the whole indoor/outdoor thing is that at the beginning of the season things look lusher than they otherwise might. I have a large jasmine that bursts into bloom just before I bring it out in May, as well as a bunch of other flowering and foliage tropicals. They’re like an instant garden. But now is the time I dread. Now they have to be dragged in and kept alive somehow. Now is the time I look long and hard at a plant and decide. Is it time for a change? How much would it cost to just buy another one?
Plants I overwinter fall into a few categories. First there are the large jasmine and gardenia that have moved into larger and larger pots over the years. These look nice and glossy during the winter, though they seldom like the conditions enough to flower indoors.
Then we have our gigantic tropicals: colocasia and alocasia. The dilemma here is to let them go dormant or keep them growing. There can be as many as 8 of these, depending. They stay in pots inside and get planted around the pond in May. Dormant is the most convenient, but you can’t always depend on it—one or 2 might not survive their basement incarceration.
There are also a growing family of amaryllis/hippeastrum. I can’t treat these as annuals, even though I know my life would be much easier if I did. I do like their strappy leaves as accents during the summer, and then there's the February flowers—usually.
But the biggest group is a changing crew of impulse purchases, depending on what I take it into my head to save. The indestructible scented geraniums, the amarcrinum that didn’t bloom in time, the spectacular plectranthus that’s still covered with flowers …
The good news is that there are more grow lights available for regular fixtures now. The plants seem to like being crammed together—and the more crowded they are the fewer problems I notice.
One useful tool for overwintering: the pot lifter. It was sent to me last year, and it really helps get the big ones up and down the stairs.
All the same. Tonight’s the night I might just forget there’s a frost on and leave that last one out in the cold.
Posted by Elizabeth Licata on October 19, 2010 at 5:00 am, in the category Shut Up and Dig.