Annuals In Your Window – Secret To Success

Raising flowering annuals indoors is so simple that we wonder why it took so long for us to discover it.

If you have a sunny window you can do it too; you don’t need special window glass or a fancy planting box. The blooms may not achieve greenhouse perfection, but they are colorful on the sill or in arrangements. Just as with annuals in the garden. the more the flowers are cut, the more the plants produce.

How do you do it? Well, remember annuals are plants that bloom and produce seed in one growing year. Annuals that have flowered all summer in the garden cannot be expected to continue flowering after thew have been potted up and brought indoors, even if they are cut back. Their life cycle has been completed outdoors.


Secret To Success

The secret of success is to use young plants or healthy half-grown plants which, perhaps because of a late start, have not yet reached the flowering stage outdoors. Many of the volunteer plants that self-seed later in the season from early flowers – annual poppies, bachelor’s button, babys-breath and candytuft make excellent winter plants. The seedlings are strong and will transplant easily, and you’ll find that thinning will improve the border.

If you don’t want to depend upon young plants from the border, start seeds early enough so that the seedlings will be about the same size for potting up to bring indoors before frost as the seedlings you set outdoors in the spring. Any good garden loam mixed with a small amount of peatmoss will make a good potting soil.

The small plants should be dug and potted early so they can become adjusted to the pots before moving them indoors. Move them carefully, so that you do not disturb the roots unnecessarily. Pot up as many different plants as possible, because some may not survive even the move indoors. Some may be short-lived there and others will flower from October until May.

Pinch back the newly potted plants to encourage stocky growth and place them in a shaded location for a few days until they become established. They can be placed in the sun until the weather turns cold or frost threatens; then they should be brought indoors. Check them regularly for insect pests while they are still outside – white fly, aphis or red spider. If you cannot get rid of these pests on a plant outside, discard the plant, as the insects will multiply quickly indoors and spread to the healthy plants.

Give the plants a window seat with a southern or western exposure, so that they will receive maximum sun. The plants should be several inches away from the windowpane; on freezing nights, place newspaper between the glass and the plants to protect them from the cold.

Room temperature is important; the plants do best at temperatures up to 70¡. A room of their own in which the temperature can be regulated is good but not essential. Regular watering is necessary, or the lower foliage will dry up and fall off. Then the plants will become unsightly even though they may keep on flowering. You can give them several feedings of commercial fertilizer in liquid form during the winter.

You don’t have to coddle a windowful of rare plants indoors during the winter; adopt the common garden flowers. Petunias are always dependable. Young plants or newly rooted cuttings taken in the fall from older plants will flower profusely. Cut the blooms often for bouquets; this will keep the stems from becoming spindly. When the blooms begin to wither, don’t just pinch off the dead beads; cut back some of the stems so that the plants will stay bushy and be forced to send out new growth.

Marguerites or Boston yellow daisies pre good winter flowers. too. Cuttings rooted in September will flower in six weeks. They will give many flowers for cutting as well as provide showy house plants. Cuttings or slips may be taken in the same way as those of regular chrysanthemums: root them in sand.

Calendulas are lovely, but the flowers do not last. The blossoms of verbena, scabiosa, snapdragon, larkspur, dwarf and tall marigolds, zinnias, celosia, Chinese forget-me-not. salpiglossis, nasturtiums (try the foliage in winter salads), dwarf annual phlox, heliotrope and pinks all last at least three weeks on the plant.

If Heavenly Blue morning glories are started from seed in January. by the end of March, you’ll have a wealth of blooms on vines trained up the side of a window. The flowers often last throughout the entire day, especially in an eastern window where they receive morning sun and afternoon shade.

If you have violas in your garden, take some of the soil from underneath the parent plants and place it on top of some of the other potted annuals or even regular house plants. The viola seed in the soil will germinate in January or February, and the violas will begin to flower about the end of March!

by MB Williams – 63477

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