Moesel: Freeze does in annuals
The biggest part of our state has now had a fairly hard freeze so most of our tender annuals are done for this growing season.
The leaves have been falling rapidly off the deciduous trees, and the evergreens are standing out in our landscapes as the selection of green plants has been reduced greatly by recent cold fronts. Some of the semi-hardy vegetables and perennials will persevere until we get a much harder freeze.
As your annuals freeze and close out another growing season, you still can plant pansies, ornamental kale and cabbage that will grow, bloom and produce color right on through most of the winter.
Pansies are the star of winter gardens as they produce colorful, fun and perky flower faces in all kinds of colors right through the cold dark and dreary days of winter. Pansies are even prettier on sunny winter days. Plant, water periodically and enjoy pansies right through the winter until they succumb to the heat as we warm up late next spring.
After the killing freeze and with shorter days, we all tend to spend more time inside from now until spring. Houseplants can be grown and enjoyed inside year round, but we tend to add houseplants in the fall and winter when we are more house bound. Some of these additional houseplants are patio plants you had outside for the summer that you may have moved inside by patio doors, in windows or under lamps to overwinter until next spring. Many folks add new houseplants in the fall and winter to decorate their home, to add new life and energy to their living space and even to clean the air while they are spending more time at home.
NASA has completed lots of research in selecting the best plants for the space station and has discovered or verified that plants are one of the best filters to clean pollutants from the air. Plants absorb carbon dioxide, which plants need for photosynthesis, and produce clean, refreshing oxygen we humans need and crave.
There are literally thousands of plants that can be grown as houseplants. Picking plants that can tolerate or do well in your available light is the most critical factor. The lower the light levels you have available the more limited your selection of houseplants that can do well in that light. Flowering takes more energy so flowering plants generally need higher light near a window or under a lamp.
There are many house plants with colorful foliage that will do well at different light levels. Aglaonema or “Chinese evergreen”, many varieties of dracaena or “corn plant,” ficus and spathphyllum or “Peace Lilly” are among the many great house plants.
Houseplants are enjoying a surge of new interest by millennials and the younger generation as a way to decorate, energize, personalize and purify their homes or apartments. Cactus and succulents have been particularity popular as these young adults discover plants. Cactus and succulents do best in a good window light, have few pest or disease problems and require little care. The main issue with cactus and succulents is to not overwater or over care for these plants. It is better to err to the dry side than the wet side.
Soak in the change of seasons by planting pansies, kale and cabbage outside and adding houseplants to liven up your home and office.
Rodd Moesel serves as president of Oklahoma Farm Bureau and was inducted into the Oklahoma Agriculture Hall of Fame. Email garden and landscape questions to email@example.com.