Tahlequah Daily Press

November 2, 2012

Under the lights

Staff Writer

TAHLEQUAH — As the days grow shorter and temperatures drop, gardening enthusiasts are prepping beds for winter and moving transportable items inside.

According to Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service Agriculture Educator Roger Williams, some thought should be put into what plants can successfully inside indoors, and when they should make the transition.

“What people need to remember is the stuff has been outside getting lots of sunlight,” said Williams. “If you take it inside where it’s dark, you’re going to shock it. You also have to think about all the insects that crawl all over the plants. You want to make sure you don’t have bugs in items you’re looking to bring indoors. A lot of insects can be found on the underside of leaves, so you want to be sure and give them a good going-over before bringing them inside.”

Williams said plants that receive a lot of sunlight need to make a slow transition, and depending on light exposure in the home, some plants aren’t suitable to move.

“Also, when plants are outside, they need a whole lot more water than they do when they’re inside,” said Williams. “You want to make sure you don’t stay on the same watering schedule, or you’ll waterlog your plants.”

Williams said fall is a good time to prune plants being considered for moving.

“Pull off leaves that aren’t any good,” said Williams. “Generally, whenever someone does something to shock a plant, it will shed its leaves. That’s a real good indicator of shock.”

Tomatoes are thought to be a summertime crop, as heat intensifies the flavor of the fruit. Williams said that in this area, tomatoes can be successfully grown in greenhouses, but they often lack flavor.

“For the most part, most people don’t have enough sunlight in their homes to grow tomatoes in the house,” said Williams. “If you’re lucky enough to have a greenhouse, you can have some success. Tomatoes rely heavily on high soil temperatures for flavor, so even hot house tomatoes that look pretty and turn red are often bland. You’ll put a lot of time and effort in, and they just won’t be tasty.”

Williams also said those planning to dig up plants for transplanting to indoor containers shouldn’t waste their time.

“Moving plants from the ground to containers - it doesn’t really work very well,” said Williams. “There are people who want to move tomato plants, and you could maybe get some seed from that, but that’s about it. Tomatoes extract so much fertilizer and nutrients  from the ground where they are that they just don’t do well if you dig them up.”

Herbs, on the other hand, can be grown indoors with success, as long as they are started in containers. Again, Williams warns against digging up established plants.

“Some people manage to grow spinach, lettuce and radishes in roll-around carts, but there, they’ve started it from seed in fresh soil,” said Williams.

Patrons at Shelly’s Fine Barbering may have noticed the plethora of plants scattered about the shop, particularly in the winter.

“I spent half a day moving plants last Friday,” said Norman. “We moved these two ficus, the herbs, the airplane plant and these ferns.”

Norman has a 14-year-old lemon tree near her work station that she started from seed about 14 years ago.

“All of these have to have lots of light,” she said. “Particularly your tropicals, like this lemon tree. You can grow most herbs inside; I have oregano, French tarragon and thyme growing here in the front window. You can always tell when it’s time to move plants in, because basil will die off first. It’s the canary in the mine of the plant world.”


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