It’s November now (in case you hadn’t noticed) which is one of the two least sunny months in my part of the world. Yes, you read that correctly–the least sunny months–or, to put a less positive spin on it, the darkest, dreariest months in my part of the world.
But does that deter gardeners? Don’t be silly. Most of us just hunker down and decide we need more houseplants, or seasonal gift plants, or we have brought in all sorts of plants from our summer growing season and we are trying to nurse them through these next four dark and dreary growing months when, if you’re growing without artificial lights, the plants just sit on the windowsills (if you’re lucky) or, if you’re not so lucky they just give up and die!
This article in the New York Times a few weeks ago made me chuckle because it reminded me not only of me but of so many of my gardening friends and colleagues. The article on its face was about growing trees indoors but what it really was about was the persistence of gardeners in trying to turn their homes into indoor oases and orangeries.
It quotes from Connecticut writer Tovah Martin about the history of growing house plants indoors. This is a relatively recent phenomena handed down to us from our Victorian forebears who brought nature indoors on a wholesale basis. Martin herself tries to do a smaller scale bit of the same and keeps her house cool enough to keep camellias blooming.
For most of the rest of us, however, what we want are the true tropicals and we’d have to heat our houses to almost Victorian levels–and over-humidify them as well. Accommodations can be made for some plants but for a lot of them, they’re just not suitable for our dry as the Sahara desert homes. This includes many of the commonly sold plants at the box stores like palms–and even occasionally the plants sold in garden centers like ferns.
Over the next few weeks I’ll highlight some great plants for the winter home that do well in the low light of winter–and don’t have to be just a plain old philodendron or pothos (although if you like those they make fine, low light plants).
And I’ll try to steer you away from some of the cuter things being sold now that are difficult to manage unless you are willing to put in the extra time (think ivy topiaries) or keep your home exceptionally cool (this would apply to those deliciously scented rosemary trees that always pop up this time of year–not suitable for the average home, sadly).
If it’s out there, I’ve probably grown it so I can give advice on how to keep it alive if you must have it–or to steer clear if it’s not really practical for the home grower with average light (like most of us!)
So that’s November’s plan–how to bring nature indoors–sensibly!