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Don Kinzler, Published August 30 2013

Fielding questions

Q Every spring I buy two basil plants and put one in a pot on the deck and one in a pot in the house. The plant outside grows fine, and we enjoy fresh basil all summer. The plant inside does nothing; it survives but doesn’t grow. I keep it in a warm sunny spot and water as needed. What am I doing wrong?

– Val Casavant, West Fargo

A Fascinating question. Basil does well in pots outdoors, as you‘ve experienced, so let’s concentrate on what’s happening to the basil indoors. Every winter, Mary and I grow herbs and houseplants in our sunny south kitchen window. The winter sun is bright, angled lower on the horizon, and our plants do well. But by summer, the same plants in the same location begin to suffer. The sun becomes too intense by the window, and the atmosphere seems to change. As a result, we move the plants outdoors for their summer vacation.

Have you tried moving your healthy outdoor basil plant indoors in the fall to your sunny window for winter use? You usually need to cut them back a bit at the time. Basil, with its softer stems, is often more difficult to grow than prolific herbs like thyme, mint and parsley. To be honest, our basil died, and we need to start a fresh plant.

Q Regarding your column about rooting geraniums from cuttings, have you ever had the same success with marigolds and petunias?

– Dave and Sharon Poll, West Fargo

A Geraniums started from cuttings grow well all winter in a sunny window or under fluorescent lights. Large-flowered geraniums are propagated by cuttings, rather than seed. Seed-grown geraniums tend to have smaller, looser blossoms.

On the other hand, marigolds and petunias are best started by seed each spring in March and April. I’ve tried rooting some of the “wave”-type and hanging basket-type petunias from cuttings and growing them indoors during winter, but I’ve always struck out. Do any readers have a success story to report?

If you have a gardening question, email Don Kinzler at ForumGrowingTogether@hotmail.com. Questions with broad appeal may be published, so please include your name, city

and state for appropriate advice.