House & Home

Take Cuttings Now and Overwinter Your Garden Indoors

Posted August 6, 2015

Growing a gorgeous garden is one of summer's greatest pleasures, right up there with grilling your dinner and turning cartwheels in the grass. So why not plan now to continue enjoying your garden through the winter? Take cuttings from your favorite plants and have them ready to transfer indoors when the warm weather starts turning nippy. Just use our 9 simple steps as a guide. (BTW, this makes a great end-of-vacation activity to do with your kids!)

  1. Consider your indoor gardening real estate. How much sun and how much room do you have at your disposal? Is there any possibility of hanging planters from the ceiling, to increase your available space?
  2. Take a good hard look at your outdoor garden. Which plants are the healthiest and fastest growing? Which ones give you the most pleasure due to their lovely color, shape, or scent … or perhaps their flavor? (Given the right conditions, many edibles such as hot peppers and herbs thrive inside the home.) Most important of all, which plants will be best suited to your home's light and humidity? Geraniums and succulents are two that usually make the transition indoors from cuttings very well, but feel free to experiment.
  3. Sharpen your pruners (secateurs) so that you can make clean cuts. Take cuttings about 3-6 inches long, depending on the size of the plant, from areas that are mature but still green. Cut 1/4 to 1/2 inch below a node, if possible -- that is where a pair of leaves or branches is attached to a main stem. Provide the largest possible rooting surface by snipping on the diagonal, at a 45-degree angle.
  4. Strip your new cuttings of their bottom set of leaves and also of any flower buds -- this will help conserve the energy the plants need right now to grow new roots. Make sure that there are no potential unwelcome "houseguests" such as spider mites hiding in their foliage.
  5. Dip your cuttings' ends in rooting hormone, if you like. Then transfer them to your rooting medium; that is, water, sand, vermiculite, or soil. Add well-diluted fertilizer. Start the cuttings outdoors to avoid a major temperature adjustment at first, but make sure that these delicate plants are not exposed to direct sunlight if they are being rooted in water.
  6. Transfer cuttings from water to potting medium after they have developed distinct roots. Keep all young cuttings well watered when they are first planted. Move them to their new indoor home approximately a week after planting.
  7. Make sure that your new houseplants have enough moisture to stay healthy and happy in the drier climate inside your house. Spray gently with a plant mister, or place a plastic bag over each one. Make sure that you don't block off their airflow, though.
  8. If you are growing cuttings as an entertaining and educational gardening project with children, explain to them that not all of the plants may take. You might want to use a garden journal to record details of your successes, as well as what didn't work out as you had hoped.
  9. Early next spring, you will be able to take cuttings from these plants, in turn. Be sure to let them toughen up a bit inside your home, and when they've grown stronger and the weather is mild again, you can fill your garden landscape with abundant new growth.

Laura Firszt writes for

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