Thursday, October 08, 2009
When you don't have a greenhouse
This post might be titled “Don't let this happen to you,” but, as crazy as it looks, I actually enjoy tending to my growing collection of overwintering tropicals and tender perennials.
It started over five years ago, when I bought a gardenia and a jasmine and kept them in this upstairs room over the winter; both bloom from May through August outside (the jasmine starts flowering inside in April). A few geraniums and an orchid followed. Then I converted the room from an obsolete home office to a full time plant room, with wood floors, humidifier, and some special lighting.
Now there is a large banana, several good-sized colocasia, a large alocasia, 6 orchids, a variegated abutilon, a large plectranthus, and many other common household foliage plants, as well as the plants I started with. Most of them go outside right after last frost. The room has a south-facing window and some high-powered compact fluorescents, which stand in for the usual shop lights many use—although I know they are not really great for the purpose. I find all indoor plant lighting to be unworkable in anything but a basement where no one will view its ugliness, and I am trying to find a better alternative.
In late December, pots of forced hyacinths and narcissus will join these plants, followed by tulips in February. That's when it really gets exciting and feels the most like real gardening.
Sure, I've had plenty of plants die inside. So what? Plants die outside too. The only ones that bother me are the orchids; they're expensive and I try to make sure they survive-with good success so far. And there are some houseplants (throughout the house) that I've had for 10-20 years.
Some day though … a real greenhouse. Or better yet, a conservatory.