Of course, when the weather gets cooler, green thumb ambitions can be harder to fulfill. But there is no need to put your happiness-enhancing ambitions to bed until warmer times. Experts say gardening does not have to stop in the winter and have tips to make it possible. “During the winter, you can extend your gardening season outdoors or grow things indoors,” says William James Lamont Jr., PhD, professor emeritus at the Department of Plant Science at Pennsylvania State University. “In colonial times, people harvested root crops and survived on them in the winter,” he points out. “You can grow these ‘surviving vegetables’ outside and the garden inside. “
That said, gardening in the winter able to be harder to succeed than in the warmer months – especially if you’re still a gardening novice. Fortunately, gardening experts have tips to help you reach your conservatory goals.
Horticultural experts share 6 conservatory tips to keep things growing and joy all year round.
1. Choose the right plants
You can technically plant anything you want in the winter, but if you do not live in the right conditions, it is unlikely to survive long. If you are interested in keeping an outdoor garden in the winter, the right plants for you to focus on “depend on where you live,” says Pamela J. Bennett, associate professor and director of the state gardening program at Ohio State University. If you live in a warmer southern state, you can probably grow plants like winter pansies and kale without any problems, she says. You can even grow those plants in the middle of the country, as long as the temperatures do not get too low, she says. “But the further north you go, the harder it can be to grow certain crops.” Dr. Lamont suggests planting hardy crops like kale, spinach, cabbage, carrots and onions with the right tools (more on that in a moment).
Indoor gardens are a little more flexible with the elements, as long as you – again – have the right conditions, says S. Cory Tanner, director of horticulture program at Clemson Extension. “There are a few plants that are proven and true winners,” he says. These include snake plants and ZZ plants, which, he says, are “hard as nails” and are “really suitable for indoor gardening.”
Still, Bennett says, “you can grow all kinds of plants inside with the right setup.” She says succulents, orchids, begonias, terrarium plants and bromeliads are good options. “You can also start vegetable seeds, grow herbs and green sprouts and even extend the life of some annual bedding like geraniums,” she says.
2. Try to protect outdoor plants
This is not a requirement, but it can definitely help. Dr. Lamont suggests creating plastic tunnels or row covers to lay over your crops. (You can find them online or in many garden supply stores.) These tunnels “protect your crops and allow you to harvest them all winter,” he adds, even when the weather is less than optimal outside.
3. Make sure you have plenty of light
Tanner says the lack of light is “one of the biggest mistakes I see with indoor gardening.” Houseplants, like other plants, need lots of light, he points out, noting that some homes have better lighting situations than others. A professional tip from Tanner: “South-facing windows provide more light than north-facing ones.” If you lack natural light, you can invest in a plant-specific light to shine on your plants, says Bennett.
4. Do not forget to water your plants
It’s easy to assume that water would be too much for plants to take when it’s cold, but Bennett says it’s still crucial. “If the soil stays dry, the roots are not established,” she says. Her advice if you are worried about freezing: Mulch your plants when it starts to get cool. This will help push the roots out of the ground and prevent them from freezing.
5. But be careful with overwatering
So … how often should do you water your plants? Unfortunately, there is no hard and fast rule here. “To the great dismay of novice gardeners, there is no set schedule,” says Mira Talabac, a horticultural consultant at the University of Maryland Extension. “The answer is just, ‘when it’s dry enough to need watering’.” It can depend on a number of factors, such as the type of pot mix you use, how hot and humid it is, how much light there is, the type of pot you use, and the airflow around your plant, she says.
One hack many gardeners use is just to feel the soil at least an inch below the surface of the pot, Talabac says. “If it’s dry, the plant may need water; if it’s moist, it probably won’t,” she advises. if you use a saucer, she recommends emptying it immediately so the plant does not sit in water. Otherwise, she says, “it will be reabsorbed to the point where it drowns the roots.”
6. Keep an eye on the humidity
Houses tend to have low humidity in the winter when people are running indoor heat, Tanner says. “For certain houseplants, it can be stressful,” he adds. You can increase the moisture level around your plant by misting it daily or putting your plant over a saucer of stones and filling the saucer with water to provide moisture immediately around the plant. Still, Talabac says, “the most effective way to raise the humidity is to use a humidifier.” You can place it near your plant to maximize the moisture around it.
If you are ready to have the garden during the winter, but still feel unsure about being able to handle it, do not hesitate to ask questions at your local garden store. They are usually staffed by experts who can help offer personal guidance.
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