A Propagating Project

Martha Stewart
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With winter fast approaching, we have been very busy at the farm finding winter homes for all the cold-sensitive plants. Every fall, gardeners in climates that experience true winters have a tough decision to make. Do the frost-tender tropical plants that are facing the end of their lives with the first hard freeze merit a spot in either the house, basement, or greenhouse, or should they be sacrificed to the compost pile to make rich humus for the benefit of next year’s garden? I try my very best to ensure as many of the tropical plants as possible make it through to next spring.

If you grew a few tropical plants in your garden or in pots this summer and want to try your hand at keeping them alive indoors until next spring, you have some options:

  • You can keep plants such as palms, citrus, hibiscus, clivia, jasmine, and mandevilla vines in active growth in a warm, sunny spot in the house or a heated greenhouse.
  • Plants such as brugmansia, banana, and dwarf canna will just go dormant if you keep them in a cool, dark place until spring.
  • Store the dormant bulbs, corms, or tubers of dahlia, sweet potato vine, colocasia, caladium, canna, and calla in boxes of sawdust or peat moss in a cool, dark place such as the basement until next spring.
  • Take cuttings and allow the ‘mother’ plant to die. Root the cuttings and pot them up so you will have many new plants in the spring. This works well with herbaceous, soft-stemmed tropicals such as plectranthus, coleus, geraniums and begonias, which can be difficult to overwinter.

It’s now time to dismantle my outdoor containers that were planted with tropical plants last spring. We have been very busy taking cuttings from the begonias and succulents so that next spring we will have many more new plants for the containers.

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