It sure seems that way. So many in my online gardening group have already filled their windowsills, basements, and (increasingly) greenhouses with coleus, begonias, geraniums, petunias, impatiens—you name it, they’re saving it.

On its face, this is admirable. Plants that are normally discarded at the end of the season are now being overwintered in some way so that they can return to vibrant life in late spring. But I am afraid I just can’t take up these thrifty practices. There are so many reasons.

  • There is really no danger that the same or even better cultivars will not be available at garden centers or via mail order next year. In my case, I don’t want the same cultivars, especially when it comes to coleus. I just looked at the same 8 varieties of coleus for four months; they were nice, but next year I will want a change. There are so many cool varieties (if you like coleus, which I do). The same goes for petunias, annual salvias, and begonias: many, many varieties, with new ones every year. I guess I have a short attention span. I want the new shiny thing.
  • None of the overwintering options appeal to me, except maybe the greenhouse, but that would need to be a full-fledged outdoor greenhouse with all the bells and whistles, which is not an option given my limited urban space. Windowsills filled with little glasses of rooting coleus? Ugh. A basement set-up with lights on all the time? The basement of our 140-year-old house is more like a dungeon. An electrician would be required and—oh, I just can’t be bothered. Not for geraniums.
  • I have other winter plant-related activities that I truly enjoy. I’ll be forcing 150 bulbs (or so) in the basement’s root cellar, the one useful thing it does have. And I have upped my houseplant game, considerably, inspired by the selection that’s now available and the example of guest Ranter and friend, Johanna Dominguez. I do not call these plants “she,” have minimal emotional attachment to them, none cost more than $40 (most far less), and I have no compunction about tossing them if they’re too much trouble, but I do have about 45, including a few big tropicals that I overwinter and bring outside yearly.
  • Infestations and similar problems are sure to come. I’ve got enough of that with the houseplants. At least with annuals, all that stuff can be more easily dealt with outside. 
  • I support local nurseries and garden centers when I buy new annuals every spring. These are all family-owned small businesses and I look forward to spending money with them every year. And I love seeing those familiar faces; it means summer is here.