Over Wintering Plants and Dividing Succulents- Couldn’t think of a Witty Title

Its been so cold and rainy here that I brought my summer plants inside early. I guess I usually do it sometime in October so its not that early..

I am mixing bringing plants in along with dividing and propagating succulents today in my blog post. It all goes together since they had to come inside for the winter too.

I have a huge Hibiscus plant that I have had for at least 8 years now. I have no idea why it hasn’t died yet. I had 2 others several years ago, but they only lasted 1 year. This one, is still going strong and has the most beautiful flowers!! The hummingbirds love it! It comes inside every winter and goes out again sometime in May. It spends a lovely summer out on my deck. (Did you see how I used “lovely” in a sentence. Like I’m British or something!!)

The others are various succulents and a palm my son got for his birthday several years ago when we did our scavenger hunt birthday party. That palm looks absolutely terrible, and hasn’t really grown much, but its not dead so I keep it.

I do want to tell you about my succulents because I went to a garden class at the library last weekend and learned about how to propagate them. There we were able to create our own little succulent garden in a clay pot and learned about taking care of them.

I’m still not entirely convinced that mine won’t die over the winter. I am not a houseplant person. Every single one I have had for over a month has died.

Ok.. That might be a slight exaggeration since that palm is still here along with the hibiscus. Honestly, I have no idea why they haven’t died too.

I tried keeping them in my kitchen window thinking that their presence might remind me that I have them and they need water once in a while.

Nope. They died.

I did manage to keep a few succulents last winter that I replanted in my fountain over the summer, so maybe these will make it???

Maybe. They all have that chance I guess.

Ok… So back to the succulents and propagating and overwintering and such…..

I decided it was time to bring them inside over the winter because it was supposed to be cold and rainy all week this week. At this point in October, its hard to say what kind of weather we will be blessed with, but cold and damp is very likely. Of course, then we had 2 days of sunny and warm.

You can’t win sometimes.

I mixed up some potting soil with a little extra peat moss in it. The gardener who taught the class said that they like the soil a little more loose. I filled my clay pots then.

I put a little piece of landscape fabric that I had handy in the bottom so I don’t lose soil through the hole. You could use a coffee filter if you wanted.

I pulled the plants out of my fountain where they had spent a very happy summer it seems!! They had lots of “babies” and good roots!! And several had grown HUGE!! Well- ok, much larger than they had been when I planted the poor things that had survived my neglect over the winter!!

I cut down the ones that had gotten “leggy”. Meaning that there was a lot of exposed stem. The Gardener said that you could cut that off and just set the rest of the plant into the dirt and it will grown new roots.

The one on the right is a good example of one that has gotten “leggy”.

I took several that had grown quite well and divided them. Most of them I was able to just break apart. I found that I had a lot of babies so I carefully placed them in the dirt so they could continue to grow their own roots.

I also kept several of the leaves that had fallen off and laid them on the dirt. Often, they will begin to grow roots and become new plants. If I don’t kill them, they just might!

Some are still a little “leggy” but I was nervous about trimming them. See all the babies in the pot on the left?

The nice thing about succulents is that they don’t need much water! Perfect!! These just might make it!!

When they get dried out, just soak them good and leave them alone again. I have them in my sunroom where they will get good amounts of filtered light. They seem to like that.

I topped the pots then with some of my Lake Michigan and Lake Superior rock collection to make them look pretty. I did leave many of the “Hens and Chicks” succulents out in the planter to over winter there. They are hardy enough that they should be fine there. I am surprised at how many new babies there are of them too!!

They must have been really happy in that fountain!!




Hay Bale Garden Update

I know I am kind of late on this one. And I am not sure I even have pics of the process because I wanted it done before it rained, yet again…

As you may recall, if you have been following my blog this year, I experimented with hay bale gardens. I have been interested in straw bale gardens for some time now and wanted to play around with it a little bit. We had some old hay bales that needed using up, and I had read that you could use them instead. There was some discussion about weeds and pesticides and such, but I decided to try them anyways.

I had them, so why not?

The beginning of the season.

In the end, some things did well. Others, not so much….. You can read my updates through the summer here and here.

I had read that straw bales can often be used for 2 seasons. Maybe not in such a rainy season as we have had, but the hay, definitely not. They broke down so much that they ended up being half the size they had been. I would not have gotten a second season out of them.

The bales really broke down over the course of the season.

There was concern about weed seeds. I did not have many weeds pop up in my hay bales. The ones that did, I just pulled right out. It ended up being no real problem.

Some things grew amazingly well in the hay bales. Some things grew amazingly well in my garden. It was hard to tell to be honest. Except in my tomatoes.

The tomatoes look beautiful.
The plants look amazing!
The chickens really liked the bales!! This was mid way through the season.

I received several tomato plants late in the season from a Master Gardener event. I planted 3 in pots, but in my garden. I used potting soil and composted manure. I planted 3 in the hay bales. And in another spot, in hay bales, I planted 2 more.

The ones in my garden were noticeably a duller green. The group of 3 in my first section of hay bales, were a bright, healthy looking green- I thought. The other group, was again the duller green. The big difference was when I started getting tomatoes.

The ones in the bales, the group of 3, had blossom end rot. This is from a lack of calcium which comes from a lack of watering thoroughly. The rest of the tomatoes grew and produced tomatoes. The 2 on the other hay bales, never ripened well. The garden tomatoes ended up producing the best with the least amount of problems.

I also planted zucchini, Chinese cabbage, cucumbers, lettuces, spinach, peas, cantaloupe and carrots. And some other random things at different times. Part of the problem was that the chickens ate off the sprouts. Of course, they can’t eat off the weeds!!!

Of those things, the Chinese cabbage, cucumbers and zucchini did the best. I had a nice harvest of each of them, with lots of zucchini in the freezer for winter. I had been so excited to see some nice cantaloupe on the bales! Sadly the ones I picked were too green. I left the others out to grow but they just rotted.

Will I do hay bale gardens again? No.

I didn’t feel like it was worth the extra time and watering. LOTS of watering!

I will instead use the time in my main garden using the hay as mulch in there. I think I need to focus my attention in that garden.

Yea…. back to FOCUS again. I guess I need to keep my focus on one area before I go off into several as I tend to do.

As the season ended and I pulled up the remains of the hay bales, I just threw them into the garden to use as mulch. They are heavy enough with moisture from all the rain to cause the weeds to smother. There probably isn’t much fertilization left to them at this point, but there will be enough as they compost down and get mixed with the birds manure. I have been letting them in the garden to work on cleaning it up and fertilize for me.

What did you experiment this year in your gardens? How did it turn out for you?? Would love to hear your stories!