From the Sperry Garden – October, 2007

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I grow many of my summer-interest plants in large pots and baskets.  Some are tropicals, but others are tender annuals.  While I do have a greenhouse, it’s usually not adequate for the onslaught of plants that I’d like to put there.  So I face the same issues every gardener does. What plants stay and which plants go?

My first consideration goes to those plants that have a special significance to me.  15 or 20 of my plants have spent 20 or 25 summers in our landscape.  They get top priority come winter.

Next will be for those plants that are either very expensive or quite difficult to find in garden centers in the spring.  I’ll save crotons while I’ll discard coleus, as two examples.

Next out the door will be any plants that are likely to attract whiteflies, mealy bugs, scales or other pests into the greenhouse population.  I seldom save tropical hibiscus and I’ll never again save firebush for those exact reasons.  That’s another reason I discard my coleus each year (mealy bugs).

I reshape each plant that I’m going to save to remove any unwanted or erratic branches that won’t contribute to its overall good looks.  In the process I check closely for pests and I treat them immediately, before they have a chance to contaminate other plants indoors.

Finally, I take the most cold-sensitive plants in first.  That includes dieffenbachias, aglaonemas, bougainvilleas and tropical elephant ears.  Those plants, among others, are hurt by temperatures even in the low 40s.

And, so it is, fall-after-fall in the Sperry home garden.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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