Here in Minnesota, kids used to go back to school after the State Fair, which runs this year from August 26th through September 6th. But, in a break with our agrarian roots, some schools are having kids come back next week. It’s just a week, but because Labor Day – the last day of the Fair – signals the end of summer, it seems odd to start school before then.
I got an email from one of the local gardening centers that it’s time to bring the houseplants back inside. And, when I looked at my gardening calendar, it said the same thing. Just as I’m not ready for the kids to go back to school next week, I’m not ready for Elmer and Arby and the scented geraniums to come back inside. And, based on the blooms Elmer (my tropical hibiscus) is putting out, I don’t think he’s ready to come back inside. Apparently, even though the days are still quite warm, the nights are cool enough that the houseplants need to make the move.
When Elmer was smaller, I’d move him to the entryway for the evenings and back outside for the warm days. But, he’s too big for that now, so it’s an all or nothing move. Moving Arby and the geraniums inside won’t be a big deal. A short quarantine in the hallway and a dose of systemic white fly bug goop and they’re good to go. But, Elmer needs special care. Elmer had such uncontrollable whiteflies a couple years ago, I contemplated leaving him out to die last year. But, in a last ditch effort to save him, I removed all the soil, hosed his roots off, put him in a new pot with new potting soil, stuck the systemic pills in the soil, and brought him back inside. It was October. Nobody thought he’d make it. But, he did. And, there wasn’t one whitefly.
So, you can see why I’m not looking forward to my Back to School/Back Inside ritual. It’s a big job. But, in the warmth of the sunroom, he’ll bloom just like he is today – even when it’s 40 below. And that is worth all the work.