From the Sperry Gardens: November 2014

There isn’t a lot of sunlight around our house any longer. We built among pecan trees, and now, 37 years later, we’re in the heart of the woodlands. As the sign says as you approach the Lake Quinault Lodge in western Washington, we “sleep deep in the forest at night.”

That means that flowerbeds are pretty much dreams from the past up around our house — and that means that I rely on tropical plants to provide summer interest. But when summer is done, I have to decide which plants will be given valuable space in my greenhouse and which will be replaced come next spring.


Variegated ginger

I have several very large variegated gingers that will be taken inside. So will the crotons, although sadly I don’t have the huge ones that I had been growing for 25 years and longer. When both of my greenhouse heaters failed on the same night last February (for two different reasons), I lost the big plants to the 31 degrees that morning.


Collection of sansevierias


Peperomia cuttings now rooting in the greenhouse

Begonias, a very old variegated bougainvillea, several big sansevierias, a bunch of aglaonemas and a dozen or more spathiphyllums – all going inside. Some pretty spider plant hanging baskets that I used actually on the ground along the drive – they’re keepers. And I’m propagating a bunch of variegated peperomias to use in beds next year. They have to be protected.


Mini neoregelia bromeliads

I have mentioned on Facebook and in the Star Telegram that I’m going to try miniature neoregelias as color plants in a difficult bed near our entry. They’re a dwarf type of bromeliad, and I’ve bought 30 or 40 different types on eBay this fall. They’ll be in the brightest spot in my greenhouse. Oh, and I just moved the truck so Sam and his friends can play basketball. I forgot the eight big Xanadu “dwarf” philodendrons and six or eight large palm trees.


Philodendron Xanadu and variegated spathiphylum

You’re probably in the same process of deciding which plants to save at your house over the winter. I would always encourage you to build a hobby greenhouse — they’re one of the greatest toys any gardener ever had. Otherwise, just find bright windows facing south, east and west, and move your beauties indoors before temperatures approach 32.

Addendum: No, the garage isn’t suited to overwintering tropicals. It’s too dark, and it’s probably too cold. Try hard not to resort to that option, as plants are generally so badly stunted by spring that they’re extremely slow to come back.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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