Bring in the Garden

It’s that time of year. Careful indoor care can mean a more brilliant garden next year—or a brilliant start to a new one.

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Planting drought-tolerant succulents in containers allows you to bring the plants indoors before a frost. Simply place the container in front of a sunny window for the winter. Photograph by Lenny WilsonThe mere thought of winter, the cold days and dwindling sunlight, can send the hardcore gardener into withdrawal. It’s enough to turn a green thumb blue. But you don’t have to watch the garden’s bounty die as winter approaches. Many plants can be overwintered, or kept alive, indoors. You can also start your own seeds inside, while the cold weather lingers. Got cabin fever? Here’s the plan.


While most plants can be overwintered indoors, one thing is certain: Plants need more care than they would in an outdoor garden. Lighting, fertilizing, pollination, soil, temperature and watering all need to be monitored carefully.

You can buy plants from a local nursery, or you can move those that have been summering outdoors in for the winter. If you’re choosing the latter, check for insects, since “critters proliferate quickly indoors,” says Maggie Moor-Orth, an agricultural expert at Delaware State University. Not all bugs are bad, of course, so it’s wise to learn which are beneficial.

The first thing to consider when starting an indoor garden is how much light plants need. Some require lots of light, though most houses don’t offer enough, especially during the shorter days of winter. So if past attempts at indoor gardening have failed, look to the light, says Peg Castorani, co-owner of Gateway Garden Center in Hockessin. “One of the things we see most commonly is the selection of the wrong plant.”

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