The days are longer, the outside is warmer, and many of the outside plants are up and growing, so the ones inside need to get ready.  One shouldn’t move them to the outside directly from the house for all day or they will probably sunburn.  I usually put many of mine on the North side of the house where they are protected from full sun.

          I have just had an infection of white flies on two of the plants so on a warm day I took them to the driveway to spray as I don’t like to spray inside. I soaked the underside of the leaves as they had both adults and eggs.  They won’t come back in the house but spend nights and cold days in the garage where the tender potted plants spent the winter.  It never goes below 35 degrees F. in the garage as there are two 300 watt bulbs above and I leave them on for 12 to 14 hours all winter.  I also have a small “milk house heater” for those very cold days outside.

          These plants are hungry!!! Little or no fertilizer all winter will give them a boost to start spring growth.  I like to use pelleted, long term fertilizer that releases a little food each time I water. 

          If I didn’t repot last fall, I check their soil and condition of their roots. If they are very crowded I slice across the bottom of the root ball and probably down two sides to get them to spread out. I then usually put them in a size bigger pot. When a bigger pot is needed, go up just one size at a time. They don’t like to struggle to fill a big pot all at once. If they are already in a very large pot I may cut off a slice on the bottom and sides, then trim back the plant so it can recover during the summer in the same size pot.  This usually happens when I want to drop the pot in a “fancy” pot outside. If the outer pot is much bigger, I stuff the space with something that I can wet when I water the plant.

          Potting soil often shrinks and the plant is down quite a ways.  Turn them out of the pot and add soil at the bottom and sides. Again you may want to slash the sides and bottom before putting the plant back in.  This will create space along the sides for root expansion.

          Plants that grow too big can have cuttings made to start new ones that will look good by fall and time to bring them in. Some plants get rather ratty looking as they age or if they were in limited light during the winter.  They can be cut back rather drastically and should look good again by fall.  I have a two stalk Dracaena. I cut the taller stalk to pot level last fall. There is now a 1 inch baby there and I will cut the other stalk (now five feet) off and hope by fall to have 2 short ones.  This will be easier to carry than if it was in the pot.

          Last fall I took a 2 leaf start off a red Tea Plant and wondered if it would grow.  All winter it sat, alive but sitting! Now with spring here I have a new 6 inch plant.  Always take a chance when you don’t know if it will work and do several just in case.  The plant will grow about 2 to 2 1/2 feet with long red narrow leaves mottled with green. The original was one of the “boarders” in my garage where there are a number of visiting plants. An Angel Wing Begonia that I took a 4 inch tip suddenly became a 6 incher. The majority of my house plants have been gifts. For me this works best in the spring.  I generally put them in potting soil and set the pot in a dish of water to make sure entire soil gets wet.  After 2 days I remove it to prevent root rot.

          The east side of the house seems best for me to summer houseplants.  They receive morning sun but are protected from the hot west summer wind and sun in the afternoon. The house also cuts down on heavy winds. A few go on the south side but I can’t leave them out all day at first as they will sunburn.

Copyright 2009






          Many home owners worry about thatch in their yard and power rake every year because someone told them they should in order to take care of thatch.

1.     First, power raking is very hard on your lawn and pulls out new little seedlings. Power rake ONLY when you know you have a thatch problem or want to scratch up the lawn prior to overseeding.

2.     Second, core aerating once a year will open up any hard clay soil and   take care of any thatch in a natural way. Core aerating is good for your yard, especially before reseeding.

3.     Third, contrary to popular belief, letting your grass clippings stay on the lawn does not cause thatch. In fact, it is good for your lawn to return those clippings. It adds organic matter and at the end of the summer it is like adding one application of fertilizer.

4.     Fourth, what causes thatch is over fertilization of your lawn, especially in the spring, and by mowing your lawn too short. Thatch comes from the crown of the plant and not from the clippings. The two most important times to fertilize your lawn are in the fall. If you were going to fertilize only twice a year, put one application on about Labor Day and the second after Halloween.

Copyright 2009