Winter Gardening

I had brought in a few flower boxes in November and forgotten them in my basement workshop. After the holidays I began putting away the Christmas decorations and the flowers began calling to me. Geraniums or pelargoniums as they are properly called can be brought indoors for the winter without too much trouble. The ones that I brought in were nothing special, just easy enough to grab from the front porch slightly after the first frost – just pink seed geraniums from the Home Depot. Pelargonium is the name for the common flower pot plant annual that we normally call geraniums, while perennial geranium is the name for the cranesbill plant.

Pelargoniums forgetten in my basement workshop

In the depths of my basement my pelargoniums had survived the lack of water, but had grown lots of lovely green new shoots, striving upwards toward the little bit of sunlight in my workshop.

Time to trim and re-pot pelargonium

In a previous winter or two, I had so many geraniums that I brought them in en masse and stored them bare root in the basement. I dug up each geranium, shook the roots free of dirt and cut each stem back drastically to 2.5 to 3 inches. I then placed them in a cardboard box in my root cellar. Then, I checked on them periodically to make sure they were’t turning moldy. I had mixed success with this as some of the plants didn’t survive at all – and the others took a long time to come back into full form when set outside again in the spring. They just didn’t compare to the new garden centre plants that I bought to go with them.

Trimming and re-potting pelargonium

While this is not too much trouble, particularly if I were bringing in gladiola bulbs as well and storing them downstairs. I just found leaving the plants in their pots a little easier. I bring in the planters, cut back the dry and damaged bits, and place them in a sunny window. When I get a chance, I re-pot them in some fresh soil. Pelargonium will not look as nice as when they are outdoors, as they can’t get as much sunlight as they want. The foliage comes in well, but lighter green, and long and leggy – as the plants strain towards the sun. I treat them as I would when they are outside, watering occasionally but not often – but I turn them regularly so that they get sun from all sides.

Pelargonium grow lots of leggy foliage straining to get more sun

Today I trimmed and repotted the pelargonium, and I added some newly purchased small tropical plants to the pots.

I tried a Pilea, a green plant with circular spongy leaves.

Small Pilea plant

It’s labelled as “the pass it on plant” because it is easily divided. I took one little potfull and divided it into four pieces very easily. It even has it’s own website!


Pilea Peperomioides love humidity, and my house is quite dry in the winter. I am going to be misting my new Lemon plant anyway, so I think misting the Pilea will help. I have also planted my Pilea amongst other plants as I find that tightly planting in my garden helps to retain moisture, so it must work indoors too.

Easy to divide Pilea

For a little colour, I bought a Croton, which has orange, red and green large leaves. It prefers medium/diffused sunlight and even moisture. This should be easy. Perhaps not – Croton apparently don’t like to be moved and tend to lose leaves after being relocated. That’s too bad because I just repotted it with the pelargonium and pilea. Apparently they recover quickly though.

Small Croton plant

Along the way I grabbed some Baby Tears. I split them up between my planters. I like the contrast in texture of the tiny leaves, and the spread quite well, and should eventually spill over the edges of my pots. Baby Tears are low growing and spread easily and enjoy high humidity but no direct sunlight. They love humid terrariums but in my house they will be planted under my taller plants and misted regularly. They may not like living outside in my flower pots in the summer, but I will think about that when summer comes!

Baby Tears plant

Finally, I purchased a Crispy Wave Japanese Asplenium nidus fern.

Crispy Wave Japanese Asplenium nidus fern

They are described as “The Natural Air Purifier”. The tag tells me that it is “scientifically proven to convert CO2 into oxygen and remove harmful particles from the air. Will grow endlessly if put into a larger pot.” It likes low to medium sunlight, watering 1-2 times per week, moist soil and monthly 20-20-20 fertilizing. I think it’s wonderful that it’s an air purifying plant – but I think I need many, many more of this tiny plant to improve my household air quality. According to Aerify “Aerify’s growers scour the globe for one of a kind and often undiscovered plant varieties that are scientifially proven air purifiers. Not only must they convert CO2 into Oxygen to a higher degree but they must also be able to remove harmful particles from the air such as benzene and formaldehyde to name a few. These exotic and beautiful plant samples are then brought to our earth friendly and pesticide-free greenhouses where we propagate them and bring them to market”. As a plant lover, I am impressed by this philosophy. I will test out my new plant, and may buy some more in the future.

Aerify also sells a Hawaiian Palm.


I’m excited to see what they will introduce next.


Repotted pelargonium, pilea, croton and baby tears

Now it’s time to think about my herbs…..

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