It is a shame to lose all your tender, outdoor garden plants each winter. Many are actually warm weather perennials that will grow all year if brought indoors. Shade tolerant plants make especially good choices for houseplants since homes have less light. There are other growing conditions to take into consideration like cooler temperatures indoors and humidity. Tropical plants brought in as houseplants may need extra attention. Start by acclimating the plants gradually. Bring them indoors while the windows are still open to bridge the change in conditions. You will have some challenges and failures, but it is worth a try.
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Begonias are becoming more popular with plant breeders and many varieties make excellent indoor foliage plants. In particular, rex begonias, with their unusual colors, patterns, and textures, will make nice houseplants. They can be difficult to grow indoors because they prefer high humidity, but growing them on a pebble tray helps. Rex begonias also like warm soil and a chance to dry out slightly between waterings. Provide moderate light for this plant.
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Fuchsias look very tropical, but they actually enjoy cool temperatures in the 60 to 70 F range. This plant benefits from a winter rest, so do not expect a lot of flowers during winter. Bring the plants indoors before frost and trim them to about 6 inches. Place it a cool spot (45 to 50 degrees F) with low light. Water it lightly when the soil feels dry. In spring, move the plant back into a sunny spot and resume watering regularly. New growth should start soon. Repot with fresh soil and begin feeding every other week. This is a bright light plant.
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Gardeners have been overwintering geranium plants for years. You can allow them to go dormant until spring, but if you have a bright south-facing window, you can have repeat blooms all winter. Geraniums that have been growing outdoors in pots make the best candidates because their roots will not be disturbed. Bring them in before frost and give the plants a light trim. Water when dry, feed monthly, and they should bloom and be pest free. This is a bright, direct light plant.
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Abutilon, the flowering or parlor maple, is often grown in containers or beds as an annual, but it is actually a tropical shrub. Abutilon like bright light, from a south- or west-facing window, and warm temperatures of 65 F or higher. Avoid drafts, allow the soil to dry between watering, and feed every other week with a water-soluble fertilizer. Your abutilon can be pruned lightly in the fall, to maintain its size and shape, and will often bloom in early to mid-spring. Keep an eye out for pests.Continue to 5 of 10 below.
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The same Caladium plants sold as tubers are potted and sold at a much higher price as houseplants. Caladiums can tolerate full shade outdoors but like indirect light indoors. Keep its soil moist, but not wet. Caladiums do not like to be cold, preferring temperatures ranging from 60 to 85 F. If the leaves start to yellow and the plant is struggling, allow it to die back and rest until spring. Store it in a cool, dry spot and repot it in February or March.
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Small potted evergreen boxwood and myrtle make easy going houseplants and nice winter decorations. They prefer a bright, direct light source. Turning the pot every few days will keep them growing evenly on all sides. Humidity is crucial to evergreen houseplants and misting is necessary. Water when the soil feels dry and feed monthly. Keep watch for spider mites.
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Coleus is everywhere these days. The old-fashioned seed-grown varieties that prefer some shade make especially nice houseplants. If your plants are too large to bring in, coleus root quickly from cuttings. Give coleus indirect bright light (a moderate level of light). They like to be warm but will tolerate cooler nights and temperatures down to about 55 F. Keep the soil moist and feed monthly. Be sure to pinch off any flowers as they appear to keep the plants from going to seed.
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Hibiscus adapt well to being indoors and may bloom all winter if kept in a very sunny window with bright, direct light. You can trim the plants, to shape them, but hibiscus grow slowly in winter and you may not see any new growth. Allow the soil to dry between waterings but feel free to mist daily. If you do not have an ideally warm, sunny window, opt for a cool spot with average light and let them drop their leaves and go dormant. Keep an eye out for aphids.Continue to 9 of 10 below.
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Believe it or not, peppers are tropical perennials and can be kept growing and producing for several years. Smaller hot peppers are the easiest to bring indoors, but any pepper is worth a try. As with growing peppers outdoors, it likes its soil to be a little dry and a little underfed. But bright, direct light is necessary to set flowers and grow peppers. Watch for aphids and fungus gnats.
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Many herbs do well indoors. For annuals and biennials, like basil and parsley, it is best to start with a small, young plant. Chives are a particularly easy herb to grow indoors. Even if they are hit by frost, they will rejuvenate indoors in a pot. Perennials, like lemongrass and rosemary, can be potted and brought back and forth from the outdoor herb garden to the indoor window sill. Be sure they all get bright light, or they will get leggy. Trim and use your herbs to keep them bushy and full.