One of the days
I look forward to is December 21st, the shortest day of the year, as
then things start looking up. The
plants have more light and soon will respond. In a week or so they will
be getting ready for more food and water, the leaves will be greener and
new ones appear. At about this same time the insects will also be
awakening, so look carefully! I have lost a Hibiscus to white flies
about this time of year.
After a long,
dreary winter this is also the time for us to be looking for a blooming
plant to relieve “cabin fever”. Be careful with your new plant as it
may have come from the
If you have
plants in pots that require humidity, they can be placed in very large
decorative ones and the space between filled with damp crushed paper or
sphagnum moss. It is easy to keep it slightly damp.
The more plants that are close together the higher the humidity.
People in many other countries tend to have more house plants
If you brought
your plants inside around Thanksgiving or before, now is a good time to
put a dose or another dose of systemic insect killer in your pots. A
third application about Valentines Day is good insurance. They used to
smell horrible and some such as Di-syston still do. But now a systemic
containing imadicloprid (Merit) is available that does not.
In your pots it
is nice and warm, watered well, and probably no natural enemies around
to eat the eggs or the young hatchlings. If you use an insecticide in
the house or outside, read the label and follow the manufacturer’s
recommendations!!! Some of these chemicals are harmful to plants. A
spray of insecticidal soap is a good general insecticide but you must
hit the insects in order to suffocate them. Some insecticidal soap is
made with Neem oil so has a little longer residual. Insecticidal soap as
a spray will kill the adults and then a systemic insecticide applied to
the soil will take care of the young hatchlings when they hatch.
A dish garden
is probably the easiest inside garden to start and takes very little
upkeep. It is usually rather shallow with a special soil intended for
succulents or small cactus. Watch the watering as both of these need
loose, gravely soil that is well drained.
It’s also an arrangement that can stand some neglect, doesn’t
demand a great deal of space but does need good light and most grow
slowly. This is a good way
to get started. Small creatures can be added for decoration. I have one
containing a dinosaur.
For cooks an
herb garden can be a helper. There
are a number of herbs do well in the house.
Many of them have a strong aroma so you might not like too many
kinds in one area. Most of
them require a good deal of sun so a north window would not work well.
Most require at least 5 hours of sunlight a day or a fluorescent light
no more than six inches above the plant for about 16 hours a day. Do not
leave your artificial lights on for more than 16 hours as the plant
needs the rest to use the energy that has been generated by the light.
My lights are
in the basement. I have heard of a gardener who grows hers in a closet.
The plants will vary depending upon your use.
Some are for cooking, others for their fragrance as many put
herbs and spices in the same category.
History books tell us of the use of both being scattered on the
floor of homes to over come the odors that were not so pleasant. The
Chia (Scolumbariae) that is sold for “hair” on clay figurines is a
sage. The sprouted seeds are used in salads.
a rather long definition-any of those plants, both herbaceous or woody,
whose leaves, flowers, seeds, roots, bark, or any other plant part is
used for flavor, fragrance, medicine, cosmetics, or dyes.
January is the
time to get your seed starting materials ready.
There are a few seeds that seem to take forever to germinate,
such as the Prairie Gentian (