Ahh, the celebrated time for the shut-in draws near. Isolation becomes vogue, and the outdoor gardener reduces to a seed catalog enthusiast. Luckily, indoor gardening techniques continue to advance on the same wavelength as computers, and there are numerous ways to do it cheaply.
Here are some simple ways to save your rooted friends:
1) Preparing the outdoor kids for the indoor life:
We all own outdoor patio plants that we will never let go; similar to a toddler with an imaginary umbilical cord to his/her blanket. A beautiful Bolivian Rainbow Pepper or tantalizing Thai Basil is a hard thing to relinquish, and with some indoor prep, they can be enjoyed indoors and then put out next year in late spring.
First off, check the plants for bugs. If any infestation is happening, spray the plant down with an insecticide that matches the bug problem (i.e. aphids and mites–Neem, Azamax; thrips, worms, and mites–Spinosad). See our Warm and Fuzzy Insecticide Piece for more info.
Also do some general isolation (and cover if necessary) from the house plants until the signs of infestation dissapear.
Second, check to see if the plant needs to be repotted. Many excellent potting soils exist, including McEnroe, Ocean Forest, and Roots Organic Potting Soil. All own excellent starter amendments and can be helpful for a plant shocked by its transition to the indoors.
Third, determine if the plant needs to be dormant, or if it will be used for indoor production. If overwintering, an addition of a seaweed base (Nature’s Nog, Maxicrop, BioWeed) every three weeks will be a gentle feeder.
If the plant will produce, start with a topdress of a granular fertilizer like Happy Frog or Fertrell Earth Friendly 5-5-3 and scratch into the soil. In a couple of weeks , start with a liquid feeder like Pura Vida Grow (for vegetative leafy growth) and/or Pura Vida Bloom (for fruiting and flowering development) and repeat bi-monthly.
Fourth, light can be tricky, although many herbs can make it if they reside on a south facing window. However, for the heavy feeders, lighting will be necessary.*
2) Can I dig my old pals up?
I cannot recommend this wholeheartedly. Mainly, because it will be more energy than it’s worth, and most plants will not like going into a sequestered pot after enjoying the boundless freedom of earth. If anything, learn some propagation techniques* and take some cuttings of your favorites.
*Note: Check in the next couple of weeks for advice on lighting and on propagation.