Pot Up Garden Plants for Winter Joy


Geraniums: Pot your outdoor geraniums like they do in the Alps where plants are brought outdoors to line a sunny window sill.

Autumn brings an end to the summer garden, but you need not say good-bye to everything you planted this year. It’s an age-old practice to pot garden plants of certain varieties to bring indoors where they live on for months, and some may even survive the winter to grow for another year.

Zonal geraniums are favorite garden variety Pelargoniums that grandmother traditionally dug from the soil, potted up into red clay, and set upon the window sill. These will remain evergreen, which is all you need to enjoy the exotic brightly colored foliage of fancy-leaved types. The ability to winter-over geraniums this way makes them a better buy than one season annuals that die with the frost. This is also a great time to take cuttings to make more of your favorite colored leaves and flowers for next year’s garden.

The trendiest group of plants today are succulents. There are some such as sedum that are cold hardy, but the popular ones are frost tender species from southern Africa. The big showy varieties are expensive and too often thrown away after they bolt to flower at the end of the season. Bolting spoils their beautiful shape, but it doesn’t mean the plant will die afterwards. They are in fact long lived if protected from frost.

Flapjacks: Kalanchoe thyrsifolia, aka flapacks bolt to flower, then they can be dug and potted with Black Gold Cactus Soil.

The most outstanding of the tender Kalanchoes are flapjacks with their pancake-sized leaves that make them prized plants. Ditto the larger Echeverias. Now is time to cut off the spent flower spike and repot the base in super-porous Black Gold Cactus Mix. Over the winter months it will produce many offsets that you can pluck and plant come spring to expand your succulent garden next year.
 Recently, spider plants have become very popular outdoors due to their vivid leaf color and long, dangling stems. Gardeners often cut the danglers and plant them into shaded garden soil after the last frost where they root over the summer. In fall, dig these up and plant into pots so they flourish on a warm windowsill until spring returns.

For all ornamentals, use Black Gold All Purpose Potting Soil which contains slow release fertilizer that ensures there is sufficient fertility for winter growth. This is ideal for zonal geraniums and spider plants as well as tropicals and tender perennials.

Mrs Pollock Plant
Mrs. Pollock: The fancy leaved Pelargoniums are geranium varieties that produce vivid foliage for brightening winter days.

Food plants and herbs from your organic garden may be potted in Black Gold Natural & Organic Potting Soil. Because we use only the leaves of herbs, keep them alive over winter to retain their foliage for fresh seasoning. For example, dig a chunk of oregano before the plant is burned back by frost, then pot it up and bring indoors to season your Italian dishes all winter long. The same applies to mints and thyme. Just be sure the plants you bring inside are free of any pests or diseases that may otherwise spread to your healthy plants.

Even though frost may spell the end of your outdoor garden, it is the beginning of your indoor one. Load up on fresh potting soil before garden centers store their supplies. Set a small table against a south facing window where the plants receive the most sunlight. Transplant, repot and start your offsets in this controlled environment. They’ll become a living link to the beauty and fragrance of your summer garden on those dark days when the ground is frozen and the snow flies.

About Maureen Gilmer

Maureen Gilmer is celebrating her 40th year in California horticulture and photojournalism as the most widely published professional in the state. She is the author of 21 books on gardening, design and the environment, is a widely published photographer, and syndicated with Tribune Content Agency. She is the weekly horticultural columnist for the Desert Sun newspaper in Palm Springs and contributes to Desert Magazine, specializing on arid zone plants and practices for a changing climate. She works and lives in the remote high desert for firsthand observations of native species. Her latest book is The Colorful Dry Garden published by Sasquatch Books. When not writing or photographing she is out exploring the desert on her Arabian horse. She lives in Morongo Valley with her husband Jim and two rescue pit bulls. When not writing or photographing she is usually out riding her quarter horse.

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