NEIGHBORHOOD GARDEN FOR SEPTEMBER 6, 2008
BRING THEM IN
BY GLADYS JEURINK
It has been
known to freeze in early September in Southeast and South Central
Nebraska, and it takes awhile to get those house plants ready so I start
the last part of August. Even
a South window will seem like darkness to a plant that has been in full
sun. I carry them to a
shady area to remove dead leaves, branches that are too long, and to
check their roots to see if they are crowded and need more space.
Also, here they can adjust to less light for a few days.
If the roots
have filled the pot, I either remove some or slash them down 2 sides and
across the bottom before I give them a larger pot. The ones that need to
go back in the same pot can have part of their upper growth trimmed off
with a corresponding amount of roots removed. These will need to adjust
in the shade for several days.
I do not use
soil from the yard to fill in the extra space in the new pot as it might
contain weed seeds, fungous spores or disease, and if its clay, will
harden or shrink and thus make it hard for roots to penetrate.
I do keep potting soil on hand or compost for this.
Many potting “soils” do not contain any soil.
Washing is usually
the first step. I have a “gun” attached to the hose and use as
strong a force as possible without hurting the plant. Wash from
underneath upward as well as from above. The cups on the Bromeliads
need to be emptied and washed out as much has been blown in during the
summer. After they have
drained I may put a systemic insecticide on the top of the soil as well
as a long lasting fertilizer and water them in.
For some of them this is the only fertilizer they may get until
spring. A fertilizer like a
slow release 10-10-10 or Osmocote will slowly release “food” for
several months. Slowed down by less light, most plants shouldn’t have
much stimulation by fertilizer until the days start getting longer in
In order to
save window space I will take small cuttings from the tired looking or
the plants that are too big. These cuttings are planted under a
“tent” of a plastic bag plus sticks to keep it upright. These go
into a semi-shady place. Generally
I make at least 2 to 5 times the number of plants I actually want to
insure that I get a “good” one.
After a week or more, one can check rooting by gently pulling up
on the new plant. The
rooted ones will be fastened down and ready to put in a brighter light.
Cuttings started in water usually have very week roots so I start mine
in a light planting mix.
Drowning is the
major cause of death in house plants.
All of my plants will have saucers under the pot, so I water
until it shows in the saucer. There should be about a 20 minute time
limit of standing water in the saucer before you dump it. If a plant has
dried so much that the soil has pulled away from the side, the plant and
the pot needs to be placed in a pond, a pan, or a bucket and let stand
for some time for the water to penetrate the entire soil ball.
plants are potted and spend the winter in the insulated garage. During
this time (October to April) they do not need to be watered at all.
Several other plants are in the garage. The Bougainvillea, Norfolk
Island Pine, some of the Bromeliads, and the Angel Trumpets will drop
their leaves and wait for spring. These I usually water once a month so
the roots cannot completely dry.
Clivia likes to
be placed in a cold (but not freezing) location and kept dry so the
roots do not rot. It will then send up a bloom stalk where you can see
it. Start watering after the bloom stalk is up. They will bloom down
inside the leaves if it is watered and in a warm location during the
winter. Clivia do better in a clay pot, and they should remain in the
same pot until the plant cracks the side of the pot.
Cactus need to be outside as long as possible without freezing with very
little water in order to start buds forming. They seem to bloom better
after a cold but not freezing shock. While blooming they need damp soil.
plants are in the house, a number of “things” are necessary. If the
furnace or air conditioner is running, they absorb water from your
plants and some plants use much more water than others.
Bromeliads may not need any for as long as 2 weeks while my
little Orange Tree and the Powderpuff plant may need water every other
bugs!!! No matter how careful you are, suddenly they will appear.
White flies, mealy bugs and scale seem to get in. Inspect and
treat before bringing them in. Take care of your plants before and after
bringing them in!!!
BY GEORGE EDGAR
Once you bring
your houseplants in, below are some suggestions:
All houseplants and outdoor
containers should have at least one hole in the bottom for water to run
out and a saucer under the container to catch the excess water.
When watering make sure the
water runs out into the saucer. Do not let plant set in water for more
than 20 to 30 minutes.
If plant is too heavy to
lift to remove water from saucer, I bought a used turkey baster at the
thrift store for this purpose.
If plant gets dry, the
potting soil or container mix will dry and pull away from side of the
pot. This allows the water to drain rapidly down the side and out the
bottom. The major part of the root ball stays dry and has symptoms of
drought. Therefore, take the plant to the sink or the bathtub and let
root ball get thoroughly soaked, unless the plant is too heavy. For
small plants like my Christmas Cactus and Amaryllis I have an old
dishpan I put them in, then let them soak until the root ball has been
thoroughly watered and rehydrated.
Hanging baskets also need
this procedure if the root ball gets dry. This soaking may take at least
30 to 40 minutes or longer depending upon size of plant. Again, a
dishpan or 5 gallon bucket works fine.
For houseplants, I mix a
1/4th solution of a water soluble fertilizer (Miracle-Gro,
Schultz) and use every time I water. This allows nutrients to get
through out the root system on a regular basis and avoids over or under