How to keep your flowers and plants healthy over the winter
Grow lights are essential to get plants to bloom.
By Ria Megnin
If you’re dreaming of a green Christmas, you’re in good company.
Indoor gardening during sun-starved winter months lets people enjoy their own fresh flowers, greenery and herbs year-round.
The biggest challenge for winter gardeners is providing enough of the right kind of light, says John Scott, general manager of Knollwood Garden Center & Landscaping in Beavercreek.
“Even though it’s warm enough (indoors), you can’t get enough daylight energy to plants for them to flower or bloom,” Scott says.
Gardeners need to invest in a grow light, he says, which will give out the full spectrum of light needed to help foliage grow and flowers bloom. It may even benefit people who feel dreary from lack of sun.
But don’t worry about having to put up with the long, fluorescent-style bulbs of the past.
“They come in all shapes and sizes today, and can fit in most any of the lamps you have in your home,” he says.
Another seasonal solution is to invest in medium- to low-light plants, like peace lilies, pothos, philodendron, lettuce and spinach. Scott recommends building mixed containers that showcase both tall and trailing plants around a colorful variety of medium-sized growth.
Winter gardening means a different approach to watering, as well, since most plants will be in a semi-dormant stage.
“If you water a plant every five to seven days in the summer, that becomes every 10 to 14 days (in winter),” Scott says. “Imagine putting a sponge under a sink and soaking it in water, then squeezing out as much as you can. That’s the level of dampness you want for the soil.”
Gravel or broken terra cotta at the bottom of a pot helps with drainage, and to spare carpets, he recommends using a turkey baster to empty the saucer after a watering.
For any outdoor plants you’ve brought inside until the next growing season, Scott says not to worry if they don’t appear to be doing well.
“Tropicals especially are going to lose a lot of leaves over the winter, and they’re not going to flower,” he says. “But you can give it a try, and in the right environment, they can make it.
“The goal is to get them to survive, not thrive.”
Contact contributing writer Ria Megnin at firstname.lastname@example.org.