As we are now in the last month of the year and a majority of us are facing colder temperatures, we are going to bring our planting choices indoors.  Having plants indoors can cleanse your household air and make your room look better.  Some of these plants can even provide food for you.  This month we are highlighting some flowers, herbs, and vegetables.   If you have not grown plants indoors consider trying a small “test garden” in your home.  Growing indoors can be a great family project. 

Here are 6 plants that can be still planted in December:
 

Flowers  

Amaryllis – Amaryllis is an exotic plant that is often given as a gift or purchased to compliment your holiday decorations. It is actually a bulb that is native to tropical areas of South America and they have large, prominent flowers that bloom for a long period of time. They come in many colors with new color varieties being added each year. There are also different sizes and despite what you might think they are not difficult to grow and can be brought into bloom again and again. To enjoy your Amaryllis flowers to the fullest you need to keep it in a well-lighted area with temperatures that are in the 60 to 70-degree range. For more information on growing Amaryllis and how to get them to re-bloom please check out the following article.

Paperwhites – It may be cold outside and there might even be snow on the ground but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy pretty flowers! Forcing bulbs is a great way to “scratch that gardening itch” and if you are not familiar with this process Paperwhites are the perfect bulb, to begin with. This plant is part of the narcissus family which makes them relatives of the daffodil. As you might expect by the name, the flowers are white and strongly fragrant.  They are unique, in that it is a bulb that does not require a cold period to bring about its blooming period.  When planting the bulbs, they need to be planted close together but make sure they aren’t touching one another.  Here are more tips on Growing Paperwhites.

Herbs

Dill – Dill is an annual herb that is a member of the Parsley family.  The plant is native to the Mediterranean region and western Asia.  As a result, it is a staple of Mediterranean cooking.  References to Dill being used as an edible and even for medicinal purposes go as far back as Egyptian times. It is used to add flavor to many wintertime foods such as stew or soup. Dill can be grown easily indoors.  You can plant seeds or purchase starter plants.  The one key to growing Dill is that the seeds need light to germinate. When you plant the seed you don’t want to cover it too deeply in the soil. Plant your seeds or plant in a deep container in well-drained soil.  Dill prefers cooler growing temperatures and usually stops producing new leaves or flowers when the temperatures get warmer in June and July. The plant likes sunny conditions and if you water the plant too much it will wilt. 

Oregano – Oregano is a perennial herb that is a member of the mint family. It is a culinary herb and its leaves are used for their flavor.  The dried leaves have a more powerful flavor than the fresh leaves and are mainly used in Italian cuisine.  Oregano prefers a hot, dry, and sunny location, which means it can thrive indoors when given enough light.  Regularly pinching off leaves will encourage the plant to be bushier and increase your harvest.  The plant can be grown from seeds but if you don’t want to wait you can buy an existing plant or even propagate it from leaf cuttings.  If you grow the plant from seeds you have a wide array of varieties to select from.  Water the soil when the surface feels dry about once a week.  Oregano is drought tolerant.  The plant is susceptible to root rot so don’t overwater it.

Vegetable

Mustard Greens – Mustard greens are a hardy annual that is fast-growing and have nutritious leafy greens.  They have a peppery taste and are packed with antioxidants. If you live in a warmer climate you can grow these plants outdoors.  They do best in raised beds, containers, and in-ground.  They can be grown in a container indoors. The plant is easy to grow and grows quickly.  You can plant mustard greens from seeds or seedlings.  Planting seeds is the most common way for growing this plant.  If you want a steady harvest, plant seeds every 3 weeks.  Plant the seeds just about ½ inch under the soil.  After the seeds start sprouting, thin them out to every 3 inches apart. The plants need plenty of sun, so if you grow them indoors you may need a grow light.  They need about 2 inches of water a week.  Harvest your mustard green leaves when they are young and tender.  Older leaves are bitter and tough.  When you harvest this plant, pick individual leaves and then leave the plant to produce more or you can harvest the entire plant and eat it all at once.

Swiss Chard – Swiss Chard is a relative of the beet family that is high in antioxidants and has many other health benefits.  It is often grown as a summer substitute for spinach because of its tolerance for warm temperatures. It also withstands cool temperatures.  Swiss Chard can be grown indoors during cold months so you can have a continuous supply of greens.  The plant tolerates most types of soil and is easy to grow.   The container you are going to grow your plant in does not need to be too deep as the root system of the plant is shallow.  The pot should be on the large side as the leaves of Swiss Chard are large.  You can plant seeds or start with seedlings.  To grow it indoors you need to have ample sunlight, at least 6 hours a day to reach its full potential growth.  Care for the plant is minimal. When you grow it in a container it will need more watering so keep an eye on it!

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