Gardening Indoors…Bringing the Outdoors, In!

With today’s high nearing a frigid 40 something and a wind that just took any of the sun’s warmth away, gardening may not be on the forefront of many minds. For those gardeners, like yours truly, who are always looking for a chance to get a little dirt under our nails, then gardening indoors may be just the ticket to a gardening quick fix.

One of the best things a gardener can do during these cold winter months is to plan ahead for the coming season. Part of that planning may be thinking about favorite specimens in the garden from past seasons, arranging more spots for that specimen, and even propagating a few sprigs of said specimen for friends and other spots in the garden. Take ‘Powis Castle’ Artemisia - one of my absolute favorite plants in general and an easy one to propagate.

Evergreen, aromatic, lovely in arrangements, and very heat tolerant, this plant just has “blue ribbon winner” written all over it. Since the plant is evergreen in the Deep South, it can be easily propagated, or rooted, throughout the year. I like to take cuttings with several “nodes” or spots where new leaves/growth bud from and keep them in a jar until they sprout roots. Once a few roots have sprouted, then I like to plant them in plastic pots brimming with fluffy potting soil (Fafard and Metro Mix, Miracle Grow, Jungle Growth, etc) and let more roots develop until I have just the spot for them in the garden. Snips of stem with nodes and buds dipped in root hormone and stuck in soil works well too.

Another best of best when it comes to winter flowers besides the Camellia (I won’t even start on how fabulous they are…another post I promise…) is the Viburnum tinus or Winter Blooming Viburnum.

So, it is literally January and cold and this plant is blooming all across the Deep South. Whitish pink blooms with deep russet to coral buds…this plant is an A++++ student in the garden classroom. I love to use it for garnishes, bouquets, and nosegays around the house. It lasts for at least a week in water and roots with root hormone and soil in a jiffy. Homework assignment – plant one or two (I’ve got a hedge of them across the back fence!) in your garden and enjoy them! Winter Daphne and Winter Honeysuckle are in this league, so go on and add them too!

Gardening with everything INCLUDING the kitchen sinkMany of my rootings are cultivated at my “kitchen sink garden.” Most avid gardeners and cooks have them…a spot near the sink – usually a ledge or windowsill – where jars, bottles, pots, and cups boast their trappings from the garden, and, thus serve as a nursery to “hatch” out the sprigs we’re rooting. Herbs, leaves, stem pieces, root bits, flowers, and sticks all aggregate together to form our little household nurseries.

Since I spend a good bit of time at the sink, the “kitchen sink garden” becomes my little cachepot of favorite things from the day, project, or season. It could have a few buds of lilies leftover from a large arrangement, sprigs of herbs waiting to be cooked with, or little fragments and collections from my walks about the garden and woods. (I’ve kept Dixie cups of Nature on my windowsills for as long as I can remember. Mama always says that whatever I didn’t stick in a Dixie cup, most likely would be found in my pocket! Some things never change!)

Arrange in a theme, like silver juleps cups and planters with flowers, tonal shades of green, or a fun mix…experiment with your “kitchen sink” style and see what fits. One of my great-grandmother’s silver trays usually serves as my tableau. Great-great Aunt Irene’s mother-of-pearl salt and pepper shakers, a few bottles I’ve found or collected, whatever soap and lotion I’m obsessed with at the moment, and a favorite platter all arrange nicely with my cuttings. A few of my favorite things to go along with a few of my favorite things!

Once our little garden smidgens sprout or root, we kitchen gardeners plant them in the real garden or share them with friends or neighbors. Start a “kitchen sink garden” and notice those of gardener friends alike. It’s a great way to keep your thumb green when the sky is gray and Old Man Winter’s here to stay!

A quick list of plants that work well for cuttings inside during the winter months and at “kitchen sink” locales are…

  • Begonias like Rex and Midnight Star…Google them and be amazed!
  • African Violets
  • Artemisia…be sure to get some buds or nodes on the stem
  • Creeping Jenny
  • Wondering Jew or Setcreasea
  • Cornstalk Plant
  • Some Succulents and Sedums
  • Ivy
  • Pothos…try the chartreuse varieties…they’re amazing!
  • Even try stems of dormant hydrangeas like Nikko Blue! Stick ‘em in the ground to root if no luck at the sink trial gardens!