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Posted on Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 1 p.m.

Plant migration: What did you bring inside?

By Jim and Janice Leach

Several weeks back, a friend worried about the number of things she needed to do as she prepared to leave town on an extended vacation. Among her many tasks was bringing inside the house plants that had migrated to the yard during the summer; she didn’t want to take any chances in losing plants to unexpected frost during her time away. The sheer number of plants involved meant a project that would take a substantial amount of time; hence, moving the plants inside was a large item on her to-do list.

The collection of plants that I carried inside to escape cold is more modest. These are my plants, and these are my plans:


Janice Leach | Contributor

* a rosemary plant. Rosemary is a tender herb that will not survive being left outdoors in our area. I have overwintered a rosemary plant several times and lost rosemary plants when overwintering an equal number of times.

Regardless, I am hopeful that this plant will not only survive the winter, but will also be propagated into a small forest of rosemary plants.

* a bay laurel “tree”. The bay laurel is quite small and, I hate to admit it, is not growing very quickly. I have modest goals for this plant: Survival will suffice. We've tried several times, unsuccessfully, to keep a bay laurel plant alive for longer than a year.

My plan is to pay closer attention to the plant so that if a problem develops, I can treat it early.

* a scented geranium. This plant was sadly scrawny when I bought it, and it still is. The geranium grew just a little this summer, but certainly not a lot. Since it’s been inside the house, it has developed lots of leaves, albeit very small ones. I’m not sure what I was thinking when I bought this plant, but I sure need to do some research on improving it.

* a silver edge Lavandin (lavandula walenda) This plant was simply a whim purchase from a 50 percent off sale. When the clerk pointed out to me that it was not hardy for our zone (Zone 5), I should have put it right back on the sale shelf. I was taken with its silver tipped leaves and wanted to add it to our growing varieties of lavender, so I purchased the plant nonetheless.

At home with the power of the internet, I’ve learned a little more about this plant. There seems to be debate about whether it is a “true” lavender because it is a hybrid. Since I’m growing the plant because I liked it, rather than for its essential oils, I’m not going to get caught up in the controversy.

These outdoor plants join our indoor inventory to keep us company throughout the winter and clean the air as bonus. Whether they thrive or even survive remains to be seen.

Surely we aren't the only gardeners having to make room for plants to come inside for the winter. What moved back into your house house from the porch or yard? How many plants did you carry in — and find room for?

Janice and Jim Leach tend a backyard plot in downtown Ann Arbor, where they try to grow as many vegetables and other plants as possible. For the last four years, they've published gardening tips, photos and stories at their 20 Minute Garden website.


Monica Milla

Thu, Dec 1, 2011 : 2:38 p.m.

Rosemary is tricky! I usually cut mine back about 2/3 before I bring it in and found having it in a plastic pot (as you do!) helps it keep the moisture it likes. I also learned never EVER o mist its leaves because it doesn't like wet leaves or roots. It gets that powdery white substance otherwise. I bring in my Norfolk Island pine that I use as my Xmas tree, and have three elephant ears I bring in. I keep them in their (rather hefty) pots and use them as houseplants, instead of storing their tubers alone. The leaves grow back much smaller and not as dark, but they still look nice and take up less room, which is handy indoors. Other than that, I'm a bit of a houseplant hater. Aside from my T'giving cactus and ant plants, that is.


Thu, Dec 1, 2011 : 4 a.m.

I brought in our dahlia tubers; they can't survive our frozen soil. I've moved them in an out for several years, and we get big beautiful flowers in amazing colors in late summer and fall. They are rare heirloom varieties from a local source, Old House Gardens. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Thu, Dec 1, 2011 : 12:32 a.m.

Be careful what you use for mulch for your potted plants. I used to keep a large potted lemon tree outside during summer; I kept it in my bedroom during the winter. Apparently tree frogs like to burrow under woodchips. They come out and make a startling and loud croaking sound when it becomes dark, especially if you are sleeping nearby.