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Old 22-09-2003, 10:02 AM
Mark Anderson
 
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Default A couple of questions about winter and container gardens

I have a roof top garden in Chicago (Zone 5) that is all containers
consisting of wildflower, perennial herbs, regular flowers, and annuals.
I'm planning to start taking plants inside soon since the low temps are
dropping fast here. I have an inside area with lots of windows that will
get some sunlight and lots of indirect light during the short winter
days. Some of the plants I want to use fluorescents to supplement the
short daylight. I have some of those fancy baker shelves purchased from
Great Ace awhile ago. I'm going to situate the fluorescents very close
to the plants and have them on the timer.

Not having ever done this, I was confused about a few things. How do
annuals know they should die? If I bring them in and increase their
"daylight" will they continue growing indefinitely?

Even though sunlight is preferred, how effective is indirect light where
they don't necessarily have the sun shining directly on them they'll get
a lot of light from the blue skies? The room is very bright during the
day.

Will herbs like chives and rosemary keep growing in the winter under
lights?

And finally, if I just want to store some perennials to overwinter inside
without the aid of artificial light, do I still have to water them every
so often?


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Old 24-09-2003, 11:02 AM
Madgardener
 
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Default A couple of questions about winter and container gardens


"Mark Anderson" wrote in message
.net...
I have a roof top garden in Chicago (Zone 5) that is all containers
consisting of wildflower, perennial herbs, regular flowers, and annuals.
I'm planning to start taking plants inside soon since the low temps are
dropping fast here. I have an inside area with lots of windows that will
get some sunlight and lots of indirect light during the short winter
days. Some of the plants I want to use fluorescents to supplement the
short daylight. I have some of those fancy baker shelves purchased from
Great Ace awhile ago. I'm going to situate the fluorescents very close
to the plants and have them on the timer.

Not having ever done this, I was confused about a few things. How do
annuals know they should die? If I bring them in and increase their
"daylight" will they continue growing indefinitely?


they know from the different length of sunlight. They will grow indefinitely
if you pinch back the spent blossoms. If they're allowed to be pollinated
and set seeds, their job is done. This is what they do. As much as you love
the annuals, unless they're coleus (you can take cuttings from coleus and
keep them over winter for spring planting) I'd just say compost them and get
new ones next year. It's not worth much to keep most annuals around. The
wildflowers need the cold and time to settle down.

Even though sunlight is preferred, how effective is indirect light where
they don't necessarily have the sun shining directly on them they'll get
a lot of light from the blue skies? The room is very bright during the
day.


For indirect light to work effectively, you'd have to have something on the
scale of a good greenhouse, or huge windows that let in vast amounts of
light to keep them reasonably satisfied. But I wouldn't harbor over the
annuals.

Will herbs like chives and rosemary keep growing in the winter under
lights?


unfamiliar with how chives would react as they're bulbs, but you could keep
clipping them I suppose to use them, just not cut too much off the leaves as
that's what's feeding the bulbs for next year's crop. the rosemary will love
you for bringing it in. It likes strong light during the winter. Make sure
your plants are checked for pests like mealey bugs and scale and such. Even
roof top plants get critters.

And finally, if I just want to store some perennials to overwinter inside
without the aid of artificial light, do I still have to water them every
so often?


Don't do that with the perennials. they NEED to get cold. If you're afraid
of the containers receiving too much cold, you can maybe haul up some of
those square hay bales (Lowe's usually has them for home owners and they're
not heavy) and make a "cold frame" with them, and build a box with the
string still on them. then set the pots of perennials inside the square hay
bales and let nature do her thing. The straw is to buffer the bitter cold
winds that will not only freeze the outer portion of your pots, dirt and
such quicker, but would also dry out the plants more. Once snow starts up,
they'll be fine. The straw is cheap and an easy solution. Come spring time,
the pots will have survived, the plants will wake up at the right time and
you'll be thrilled to see perennials peeking up. I plant bulbs in my pots
to give me early spring smiles early before the perennials break dormancy.
But even I lose plants because the pots are too exposed during winter here.
This is the year I practice what I preach and bring home my own hay bales to
place my own many various pots inside of. I'm tired of losing great
perennials because they're so exposed.
Think of it this way.......perennials are usually in the ground where
they're naturally insulated. When they're in pots they're more exposed
because of sitting up on top of the soil. Good luck with this. Let me know
how things go next spring with yer babies.
madgardener





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