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Growing Green: Indoor Gardening

Autumn is my favorite season of the year.  The changing fall colors, the cool nights and shortened days are a welcome fanfare to the quiet, cold winter days ahead. With a sigh of anticipation, I look forward to peaceful days of garden planning, and placing our seed orders for next year. That being said, I can’t ever quite give up the need to nurture growing things and dig in the dirt, and many of our outside containers become inside gardens for the cold winter months. If you are also a diehard gardener, here are some recommendations for bringing your plants inside for the winter.

Find a bright window that will provide adequate, indirect sunlight, and clean the window inside and out. (This will give your plants the best environment for growth.). To increase the humidity of your indoor garden environment, place plants in a rock filled shallow tray of water. Before introducing new plants to an existing indoor plant collection, inspect plants for insects and diseases. Check the outside of the pot for signs of soil or unwanted inhabitants. If insects are detected, spray your plants with an insecticide labeled for indoor/houseplant use.  If your plants have become leggy, prune them back to encourage stocky, healthy new growth. Repot/divide plants that have outgrown their containers, and refresh the soil of those plants that have sunk deep into their pots.

If you want to introduce new, low maintenance house plants try some of the following:

Pothos: This heart shaped leaved plant has a trailing/viney growth that can survive in low light areas. This tough little plant can survive with little care, just water when the soil feels dry, usually once a week during the dry winter months.

Spider Plant: Everyone has seen this tough, variegated, grassy plant.  Hang it in a bright window and watch it grow!

Sansevaria(Mother-in-laws tongue): I once forgot to water my sansevaria for a month in the summer.  No worries, it did just fine.  This upright, spikey plant can survive in deep shade with minimal care.  Just don’t overwater!

I have also been tempted by some other, more challenging blooming houseplants.  These require high light conditions and a little more care in watering, but are well worth a try.  They include: Bell Kalanchoe, Crown of Thorns Plant, Rosary Vine, Sensitive Plant and another Kalanchoe called Mother of Millions.

For more information on indoor gardening visit

Robin Trott is a Horticulture Educator with University of Minnesota Extension.