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Lawn and Garden

Bringing Plants Indoors

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10/01/2010 - Well, it's official. The beginning of fall is upon us. The start of fall brings many things… colors outdoors are changing, days are shorter and the temperature starts becoming cooler and cooler as the days go by. During the beginning of the fall season, there are a few things which can be done to ensure a more beautiful and productive growing season during the coming spring.

One good idea is to make sure and rake up all of the leaves that fall, or blow, into your yard. This may sound like a trivial recommendation, but leaves which are left to lay in your yard will form a mat on the ground, blocking the air and sun to your grass. This is what often causes the dead or dry patches which you begin to see during the regrowth in the spring.

Another good idea is to trim back your rosebushes. Trimming them back and protecting them for the winter (either by adding mulch or wrapping them) will help your roses last through the cold months. Vegetable gardens which are through producing can also be tilled during this time of year. This will help to produce a fresh bed for your next crop. One popular thing people do when it begins to get cooler is to bring in plants which have lived outdoors during the summer. There are many plants which will winter well indoors. Some examples of plants which winter well indoors are geraniums, begonias, new guinea impatiens, springer eye ferns and coleus plants.

Two of the easiest, and most popular, plants to "winter over" are geraniums and begonias. The nice thing about geraniums is that they will go into dormancy easily, meaning you can store them in a similar fashion to storing bulbs. Saving geraniums for the winter using this method means that you will dig the plant up in the fall and remove the soil from the roots. The roots should not be clean, but free from clods of dirt. Hang the plants upside down in either your basement or garage, someplace where the temperature stays around 50 degrees. Once a month, soak the roots of the geranium plant in water for an hour, then re-hang the plant. The geranium will lose all of its leaves, but the stems will remain alive. In the spring, replant the dormant geraniums in the ground and they will spring back to life.

Begonias can be dug up in fall once foliage has faded or just after the first light frost. Spread begonia clumps on newspaper and leave this in a sunny area until thoroughly dry. This process usually takes about a week. Once they have sufficiently dried, cut away any remaining foliage and shake off excess soil. Store begonia tubers individually in paper bags or line them in a single layer atop newspaper. Place these in a cardboard box in a cool, dark, dry location. Begonias which have grown outdoors in containers can also be wintered well. Pot-grown begonia plants can be stored in their containers as long as they remain dry. They should also be relocated to a protected area that's cool, dark and dry. Pots can be left in an upright position or slightly tipped. Some begonias can simply be brought indoors prior to the onset of cold weather for continual growth.

So, cooler temperatures don't have to mean an end to the growth and beauty of typical outdoor plants. If you take the time to care for these plants over the winter, they will continue to be beautiful producers in the warmer months. And remember, trees need water during the cooler months as well! So don't forget to water your trees about once a month during the fall and winter.

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