In late fall, dire decisions have to be made that mean certain death for some plants, possible extended life for others and assured survival for a treasured few.

As I use a large proportion of semi-tropical, full tropical and ordinary annual plants in the outdoor garden every year, when the temps head downward, I have to decide what to try to save. Usually, the process is quite brutal because I’m already maintaining way more houseplants than I ever thought I’d have and refuse to even think about a basement greenhouse.

So out the annuals go. Or so I thought. Over the past few years, my retired husband has been playing a larger – and very welcome –  role in the garden and is able to execute strategies while I’m at work. 

Sure enough, all three potted geraniums from the patio were now grouped with the kitchen houseplants. Ok, I guess. These are heirloom varieties (though I can easily get them again) with very pretty foliage. We’ll see how they do.

Mostly, though, we were both merciless – to the degree that I had to pull a variegated alocasia – fortunately mostly intact – out of the compost-for-pick-up pile.

I have my doubts about some of the tropicals. The croton, for instance, already looks sad. Low hopes for this one.

Others however, don’t seem to care how they get moved around. The two broad-leaved ficus I’ve been pulling in and out of streetside containers not only put up with a completely shaded outdoor situation but will happily sit  from November through April indoors. They may as well be plastic; I don’t see how someone could kill them.

That’s the way to be when you’re an overwintering plant in this house. I can’t get too excited about the plants I’m just keeping alive for next summer. The resident house plants are another matter entirely, while indoor forced bulbs (shown in root cellar at top) are cause for jubilation every year. Making tulips and hyacinths grow inside without any kind of professional equipment is still a source of pride and wonderment. 

In the meantime, those geraniums better not give me any problems.