We live in the Denver area and have a 4' dual T8 tube light over a shelf in
the living room, which I use for sprouting seeds in peat pots in the spring.
But the light is kind of minimal for growing anything on a long term basis. I
don't know if it's the spectrum of the tubes in there, or whether T8 tubes
just don't put out that much light. ( doesn't anyone make "Gro Lite" spectrum
tubes anymore? )
But I was wondering if there was some kind of perennial that I could sprout
from seed, or get from a nursery, that would green up the room from fall to
spring, and then I could plant outside? Maybe I could do a row of them under
that light. But the would have to be something that could survive from
September to around late May, without a whole lot of light.
Anything green and perhaps pretty, for this?
Try impatiens (just the regular garden impatiens, not the New Guinea types) and
coleus for starters. Try one each warm white and cool white T-8 if you
can't find grow lights. And remember that the light output of a fluorescent
tube declines pretty dramatically in 6 months use or so, so you may be
better off getting some new tubes.
I always thought of impatiens and coleus as annuals. However, Sunset's
"Western Garden Book" describes coleus hybrids and Impatiens walleriana
(busy Lizzie) as perennials.
The attraction of coleus is its multicolored leaves. To prolong vigor,
flower shoots should be removed immediately when the appear. Even then,
the plant may lose its vigor after a year. Renew it by taking cuttings,
which are easily rooted.
Although Impatiens walleriana is perennial, it is usually treated as an
annual. To maintain long-term vigor as a perennial, it needs to be cut
back often to about 6". It will quickly send out new shoots and resume
David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean, see
Oh, look at this!
The Philips Aquarelle is a mercury vapory fluorescent light that is very
efficient for indoor gardening. The 30-watt Philips Aquarelle model produces
10,000K (Kelvins--a thermodynamic temperature scale) of natural light which
allows plants to achieve photosynthesis as they normally would outdoors. In
addition, the bulb actually stimulates oxygen output in the plants with this
light spectrum. It is one of the best T8 bulbs because of its energy
efficiency, color rendering (promotes photosynthesis and oxygen) and
Now I have to go find them and see the prices!...
Many "garden annuals" are annual only because a heavy enough freeze comes
along. Keep 'em from freezing and you can keep them growing for many
years. Wax and similar begonias are another possibility for the house
in winter -- just look for plants you like that do well in shade.
On the other hand, many of the things we think of as "houseplants" do
fine outside in summer shade. Dunno how many hanging baskets I've started
over the years that included clippings of Swedish ivy and pothos and
Cymbalaria and various gesneriads, mixed with "garden annuals".
Another easy plant for indoors in the winter, if you can find it, is
sweet potato. You don't want the ones that were sprayed to inhibit
rooting, so you're most likely to find them in the "organics" section.
Even so, eventually the sprayed sweet potatoes sprout... I've got one
that's been sitting here since last Christmas and it's finally putting
out shoots and roots. Occasionally you can also find ginger, taro,
yuca that will sprout, right there in the produce section. <g>
No you don't, at least not if you want it to flower in the normal growing
season. The cold chill is necessary for flowering to be induced. And
ripping up a perennial every year to haul it into the house is likely to
kill it in a very short period of time.
I don't know how I gave the impression, but didn't intend to.
I want to start some seeds indoors in the fall, use the plants for some
indoor color until spring, then plant and leave them outdoors.
Repeat the cycle the next fall.
Well, I'm still coming up dry. Most cold climate perennials just don't
grow much the first season -- at least on top, where you're looking for color.
Instead, much of the first season growing is concentrated in the roots...
which is why a lot of perennial growers either grow from cuttings or
if they're growing seedlings, use something like Conetainers or DeePots.
In addition, many of the cold hardy perennials have long dormancy periods
or even double dormancy -- the classic example of which is sweet cherry, which
remains dwarf until it's had the right sequence of warm and cold temperatures.
http://carolbodensteiner.com/prairie-spring/ that second photo is what a
new perennial seedling is likely to look like for the first full season.
I truly believe you've got to choose between color and perennial in your
area. Or try some of both and see what gives you pleasure.
Speaking of bamboo...hmmm.
I once did a little Google research and found that there are species of
bamboo that will grow outdoors and thrive down to zone 3, if I recall.
I'd love to start some indoors this fall, if it's possible.
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