All types of houseplants once grew outdoors
somewhere. Anyone who has traveled from a cold climate to vacation in a tropical area has
gaped in awe at tropicals theyve grown only on windowsills at home: bougainvilla and
pittosporum for example, reaching for the tops of fences in the year-round warmth.
The lesson here is that many landscape plants can live outside
for the summer and then move inside, no matter where you live. And the advantage of such
plants is that when you take them in you can put them in cooler places than you keep the
softies -- African violets, for instance.
Your Growise Center likely has a number of plants used for hedges
and outdoor landscaping that will move inside if you grow them in containers instead of in
Here are some possibilities and how to manage them:
*Boxwood. Popular for hedges, boxwood has shiny tough leaves that
are attractive as houseplants. Select the smaller plants and grow in light sun outside.
When you want to bring the plants in, move them gradually to a less bright area outside
and when inside put them in the sunniest place you have. Spray the leaves occasionally to
keep them free of dust. And set the pots on trays of damp pebbles for additional humidity.
*Podocarpus. Sometimes called "Chinese
Evergreen, podocarpus comes in an upright and a weeping form. Both are easy to
grow but the upright is practically indestructible and will reach great heights. It is
easily controlled by pruning. Depending on where you live youll find it among the
landscaping plants or with the greenhouse plants. Ask your Growise specialist.
*Dwarf Alberta Spruce. This is a hardy outdoor plant that does
well in containers outside, even in winter. But it will live inside for three or four
weeks at a time if you keep the soil evenly moist and keep the plant in a cool place.
Dwarf Albert spruce makes a wonderful small, living Christmas tree.
*Rosemary. In mild climates rosemary is sometimes grown as a low
hedge or border plant. Many varieties are hardy. Indoors the plants like good light and
humidity and almost any temperature. Some varieties will bloom. Rosemary comes in two
forms, upright and prostrate. The upright forms can be pruned into Christmas tree shapes,
standards or just shapely plants. The prostrate forms are good for hanging baskets.
Rosemary does not like acid soil and does not do well in untreated peat moss. If you use a
peat based potting soil, add a generous sprinkling of lime.
*Begonia. Not the fancy angel wings and tuberous begonias but
plain old garden-variety bedding begonias make fine houseplants. You can grow them outside
in containers all spring and summer, then cut them back to bring into a sunny window, or
you can grow them in the ground and clip tips to root about mid-summer, giving you lots of
new plants to take inside.
*Impatiens. Outside impatiens are valued as a shade plant. Inside
in a sunny spot or under fluorescent light theyll continue to flower over the
winter. Since impatiens grow fast and tend to get leggy, youll have the best results
from rooting tips to bring in. You dont have to do any complicated propagating. Just
cut tips, remove any blooms, and stick them in damp potting mix. This is available from
your Growise Center. The cuttings will root within days and begin blooming again not long
*Ivy. The same ivies that grow up your brick walls and creep
along your rockeries will make wonderful house plants. Two of the best are
"Needlepoint" and "Glacier." The easiest way to prepare ivies for
inside is to cut off small growing tips in early summer, with a bit of root attached, and
insert them in damp potting mix in the pot you will take inside. Leave about two inches
between cuttings but fill the pot. You can always pull some out later if it gets too
crowded. When growing ivy indoors take the pots to the shower occasionally for a good,
hard spray to prevent spidermite. You may also need to use an insecticidal spray. Your
Growise specialists can recommend the best choice.
*Geraniums. The same geraniums that brighten your front porch and
your garden borders will produce blooms all winter long in a sunny window. The plants will
get a bit leggy and the bloom will not be as prolific but it is very cheery growing in
with foliage plants in cold weather when nothing much is flowering. Start the geraniums in
pots outside, keep them trimmed back to reasonable size and wash them thoroughly before
moving inside. The best varieties for using this way are the older bright reds.