Start a windowsill garden by taking cuttings from some of your favorite indoor and outdoor plants and rooting them in water. Use pruners or a sharp knife to cut a 3- or 4-inch stem; strip off the bottom leaves and place the cut stem in a small container of water. If you like, choose colorful containers and set them on a windowsill for a pretty effect.
Although it doesn't suit every plant, rooting plants in water is the easiest propagation method. Change the water in the containers weekly because stale water turns cloudy and detracts from the attractiveness of the arrangement. More importantly, bacteria may develop and create an unhealthy medium for the plants.
Enjoy the cuttings during the winter months, then transplant them into containers and set them outdoors for the summer.
Plants for the Sill
- Angelwing Begonia
- Swedish Ivy
- Wandering Jew
- Purple Passion Plant
Transplanting to Soil
Most plants thrive only a limited time without soil in which to spread their roots. When you transplant rooted cuttings into potting mix, remember that the roots they form in water are finer and more fragile than the ones they develop in soil. For at least a week after transplanting, keep the potting mix moist to avoid shocking the plants and to allow new roots a chance to grow. However, cuttings that are rooted in soil should be watered once when they're placed in a pot of soil to begin developing, and not again until the soil is almost dry.
Herbs at Hand
Few traditional outdoor plants are as easy to grow indoors as herbs. Raise them from cuttings or seeds. Place the plants in your sunniest window (preferably one facing south or east, where trees and buildings don't obstruct the light).
A kitchen windowsill keeps the herbs within easy reach when cooking, and pots of herbs make great centerpieces in the dining room on a temporary basis. Some herbs, such as various mints, tarragon, and thyme, grow well in hanging planters. Mints tend to produce smaller leaves when you grow them indoors, but they are just as flavorful. Tarragon succeeds best if you make root divisions or take stem cuttings instead of digging up the whole plant from the garden and attempting to move it indoors.
- Because most herbs are fairly drought resistant, they grow well in pots, but when you combine two or three in the same container, they must be compatible in their moisture requirements.
- In heated homes during winter, mist around the plants frequently to circumvent the dry air, as dryness can lead to brown leaf tips and spider mites. Rosemary is particularly susceptible to the latter.
- Fertilize herbs once a month or incorporate a slow-release plant food in the soil before planting. Herbs produce the best flavor if you do not overfeed them.
- Give plants a quarter-turn weekly to expose all sides to the sun.