Austin Bryant has a bachelor’s degree in environmental horticulture nursery management from the University of Florida. Austin is the national sales manager at Heart of Florida Greenhouses Inc., Zolfo Springs, Florida.

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Indoors Today, Outdoors Tomorrow
by Austin Bryant    

When winter descends, spring’s warmth can’t arrive soon enough for the avid gardener. Many begin designing new garden plans and waiting for winter to thaw. The wait is over. You can garden year round in your home with interior foliage. Any garden veteran can become a successful interiorscaper by applying the same principles he or she uses outdoors. It is all a matter of the right plant in the right place. Foliage plants require the correct amount of filtered light and just enough water with adequate soil drainage for proper growth. These plants are placed in the most personal spaces of our home. They become a part of the family as they welcome guests, provide a soothing atmosphere and even clean the air we breathe.

Besides the obvious benefits interior plants provide for inside the home in the winter, they can also be your first tool to get color to the patio in early spring. Moving interior plants with higher light tolerance to the patio is the quickest and easiest way to get a jump on the race for spring color. Careful attention to nighttime low temperatures is important. In the early days of spring, daytime temperatures can be warm enough to allow foliage outside. However, nighttime temperatures can dip low enough to cause damage to the plants and they may need to be brought inside for protection. Most interior foliage can take a low temperature of 45 to 50 F before damage will occur.

Moving interior foliage to the patio is an easy step to add new textures and colors outside for spring. With the new trend of placing “bold tropical foliage” as accent plants in spring color bowls, a whole new world of opportunities opens up. Expert gardeners no longer concede that certain plants only belong indoors. Many plants are labeled as interior foliage due to temperature or light restrictions. By late spring most tropical foliage plants can be used outdoors full time. Here they can be enlivened with colorful annuals and perennials. It is not uncommon to walk down Michigan Avenue in Chicago in mid-May and find colorful Dieffenbachia and Spathiphyllum with splashes of colorful Cordyline and croton (Codiaeum spp.).

Clockwise: Dieffenbachia,
Croton, Spathiphyllum.


The term “mixing it up” doesn’t come close to describing the possibilities a gardener is presented with. Be adventurous and bold with these items, but most importantly, watch the low temps and have fun.

From State-by-State Gardening November/December 2012. Photos courtesy of Austin Bryant.


Posted: 02/06/13   RSS | Print


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