I wasn't sure where to post this. My question is what annuals can I winter under lights in a heated basement?
Pretty much most of your annuals. I know becuase I myself have a whole gardens' worth of annuals (potted) underneath my lights in my basement. My "indoor garden area" is a room with a humidifier, a fan, a couple shop lights and a 1000-watt special plant light fixture (big!). The humidifier isn't that big, and good thing because it would cause mold if the air was too moist. But I find it is vital for the plants. The dry air of a house in winter is just too low for many of them. The fan helps keep any bugs from thriving and also provides air circulation. But anyways, I grow begonias, impatients, petunias, geraniums, vinca, and many, many more. It is a lot of work, watering and all, but I love it in winter!
I posted this message in the "Gardening under lights" forum also, so I apologize if someone's search hit it twice. It's about bugs in the basement winter garden.
I have overwintered plants in my basement several years with shop light and florescent bulbs. The basement is not heated, but the heating ducts are there, so it does not get near freezing. Begonias, geranium, ferns and oxalis (shamrock) for example have done well. It gets too cold for African violets and other gesneriads in Jan-Feb.
My big issue is insects. What advice can you folks give me? Do fans really help? I have not used fans. I attack the bugs after the fact by washing plants in soapy water, but I'd rather not.
I am not willing to use sterilized soil, so I know I will get something. The plants have been outdoors, so of course they have eggs, etc. I leave gardenias outside as long as I dare, hoping some of the vermin will have died before I bring them into the basement. Scale and thripts on the gardenias in particular are a problem. They are ready to bloom in late January-Feburary, and that's when the thrips hatch out or whatever it is they do. Some of the gardenias are just to big to turn upside down and swish in soapy water, and besides that they usually are loaded with buds.
Thanks for any suggestions, testimonials or whatever.
I was fascinated to hear about your basement garden, since I am considering a big foray into overwintering this year.
Could you share a bit more info on your technique?
Being a novice, my progress so far has just consisted of bringing several pots into my heated garage (average temp around 60F)...I cut the plants back (impatiens, begonias, datura, alyssum, zinnias, dahlias, etc) and do not plan any special light conditions...I was just planning to let them go dormant and make sure they don't dry out by watering about every two weeks (or as needed). Then I was going to put them under lights in perhaps March and see what they do. Do you think this will work?
In addition to my pots, I have tons of bedded impatiens and was considering digging these up and potting them for dormancy - any thoughts on whether this is worth the effort? I mean, a flat of flowers is only $12...I'm wondering if it is worth the work to overwinter them at all...but then again, I'm assuming that if I go through the work, I'll have really robust plants next year - two year old specimens as compared to seedlings from the nursery.
Anyway, in short, I'm fascinated and would appreciate your advice!!
You need to know if the plant in question is a true annual or just a perennial that can't make it through winter where you are. True annuals, like a sunflower, will not live past the ripened seed stage. From there, you need to know if the plant is tropical or temperate. Tropical plants can do very well. Temperate plants can be more difficult, ones that COULD live outside a zone or 2 south of you. These plants still need "A" winter, just a less severe one, which is nearly impossible to do, and can be unreliable (like using a shed or garage.)
This subject started years ago but came back up and nobody had made that point yet. A search of the forums will bring up hundreds of threads about this and hundreds of lists of plants people have successfully kept inside through winter.