By Tovah Martin
Pot up the garden in autumn and bring it indoors.
Beginning to get separation anxiety already? For everyone who misses their green minions every winter—we’ve got a solution. This year, rather than waving a tearful farewell to your perennials in autumn, bring them on home! That’s right, many perennials make great houseplants. Literally, you can spend winter snuggled up in your nice toasty home with some favorite green things by your side. Now is a great time to dig suitable perennials, pot them, and escort those perennials into your house.
Perennials that Can Share your Digs
Granted, not all perennials are going to love sharing your home. But easy care, shade tolerant garden plants will do just fine in your home. Dig them in autumn, give them suitable pots and a bright window, and they are going to be great roommates. Then, in spring, you can tuck those plants right back into the garden for another growing season and beyond, entertaining you outside. No, these plants don’t need to go dormant. They don’t even need a chilling period. Certain perennials are so versatile, they link between indoors and outside with the greatest of ease.
Target low-light plants. Shade-lovers like heuchera (coral bells), tiarella (foam flowers), heucherellas (foamy bells), hellebores, ferns, bugle weed, lamium, wild ginger, primroses, lamb’s ears, lily turf (liriope), dwarf hostas, sempervivums (hens & chickens), and sedges are just the ticket. Aim for easy care plants—drama queens will just be high maintenance. And focus on compact plants—few homeowners have room to house a jolly green giant indoors.
Want to make your newly “rescued” houseplants do double duty? Perennial herbs such as thyme, oregano, marjoram, sage, parsley, and fennel are prime candidates for sharing your space and spicing up mealtimes.
How to Make the Move
Before autumn sinks in and sends perennials spiraling into dormancy, dig plants while they are still growing strong. Aim for September or October for best results. Dig around the plant to scoop up plenty of roots.
Shake off excess soil and find a suitable container with sufficient space to hold all the roots (but don’t make those roots swim in an overly generous container). Good drainage is key.
Now, here’s where your Coast of Maine Bar Harbor Blend Organic Potting Soil comes into the picture. Pot up the plant with your organic potting soil, taking care to firm the soil around all the roots. Eliminating air pockets is critical, especially when you’re working with loose roots rather than graduating a root ball from one container to the next. So, firm the roots in carefully. Then water your newly potted plant. And check again to make sure the soil is firm around those roots. While the plant is adjusting to its new pot, shelter it in a shady spot and water every few days.
Welcoming your new Roommate Into your Home
A couple of weeks after digging, check the plant for creepy crawly hitchhikers and then bring your newly potted plant indoors. Find a location that’s near a bright window but away from a heat source (like a woodstove or radiator), and let it settle in. Ideally, you want to time your “Welcome Home” moment to happen before the heating system kicks in. Let the plant adjust to life as your house guest. Meanwhile, be a good host and serve drinks regularly when the soil is dry to your touch. If the plant slips into dormancy, don’t panic. Hopefully, it will love your hospitality and grace you with new growth.
You are going to love living together. And here’s a bonus: Your new botanical buddy might send up some precocious flowers in late winter long before spring bursts outdoors. And when the ground thaws, you can send that baby right outdoors into your garden again for another season of performance outside. Both of you will be basking in the best of all worlds.
Written by award winning author, Tovah Martin. Photos also taken by Tovah Martin. Find her books and more information on her website: tovahmartin.com.