In Part 1 of this post, I talked about the benefits and joys of windowsill gardening. Whether you're simply bringing in your outdoor containers, transplanting your favorite flowers into indoor containers or trying a new plant, it is a fantastic way to continue enjoying cultivation through the winter. But, as in all gardening, there are a few tips and tricks that can help in your windowsill success.
Try a More “Difficult” Plant
I am not the world's most flawless gardener. While I've never met her, I know she's out there. Every flower she plants blooms like a magazine cover, and her vegetables resemble the picks in those faux-wood harvest bins in upscale supermarkets. For now, I prefer to grow what I call “fussier” plants on my windowsill. My orchid, especially, is a flower I would hesitate to grow outside. One bloom inside is easier to monitor and take care of, and the windowsill creates a more stable environment than the constantly changing Pittsburgh weather patterns. Plus, since my windowsill garden (like many) is at the window above the kitchen sink, the humidity is near perfect for less hardy varieties. If there's a flower or other plant that you're worried about killing outside, try a smaller version indoors over the winter. Get to know its likes and dislikes. If all goes well and your confidence is up, you can transplant it to your outdoor garden in the spring and enjoy the bragging rights.
Transplant Your Favorites Indoors
If you have flowers outside that you're dying to take indoors, a windowsill garden might be the perfect solution. Unfortunately, this must be kept within reason. As much as I want to bring in my giant container of hydrangeas and my Jack and the Bean Stalk sunflower, my windowsill just couldn't handle it. Take a cutting from your outdoor plants by finding a relatively green, non-woody stem that has a leaf node, or an offshoot with leaves, on it. Cut just below the node; if your cutting has an abundance of leaves, remove a few so one to three leaves remain. A few is essential for photosynthesis, but too many will drain the newly forming roots. Make a hole in your container full of indoor potting soil with a pencil or similar implement, and insert your cutting. You can place several cuttings in the same pot as long as the leaves aren't touching. Keep the cuttings moist for the first few weeks. The plants may benefit from the added warmth and humidity that comes with placing the pot inside a clear plastic bag. Just make sure the bag doesn’t touch the plants (you can prop it up by putting stakes in the soil) and open the bag for a few minutes every few days to let in fresh air. Check for roots after a month or so by gently tugging on the plant. Once the roots have formed, you can dial back to the flower's normal plant care instructions. Now your favorite outdoor flowers can be enjoyed all winter, and easily transplanted back outside once spring comes around.
Dust and Insect Control
Because the plants are kept inside, where rain doesn’t wash their leaves clean, dust can cause problems that would have never occurred outside. So, aside from watering, most plants will appreciate a misting with tepid water. Also be sure to wipe a moist sponge over the leaves regularly to rid them of any dust or dirt they may have accumulated. Finally, even though your plants are indoors, you are not safe from insects (trust me, one winter I came to the office with a fungus gnat invasion wrecking havoc on my desk spider plant). If you suspect insect damage, use only an organic non-toxic insecticide. Please be sure to check all labels and guarantee safety before spraying it in your house!
Adding a windowsill garden to your home will allow you to try out new plants, enjoy your favorites and add living colors and textures to your home.
Hazel Jennings writes about lifestyle and design, specifically garden and landscape design, interior design and organization, arts and crafts, and fashion design. As an expert in SEO and writing for the web, she works with designers, businesses, and publications to create pieces that both inspire readers and drive on-line traffic. Her biggest passions in the design world are sustainable living, urban gardening, and competitive frugality. To read more of her writing, including her blog, visit HazelJennings.com.