THAT TIME AGAIN
After our days
of near one hundred degrees, it is time to think about fall.
The spiders will give us a hint of winter protection.
If you pick up a pot with a projection or a space or that has
been sitting on a pedestal you will find a soft little cotton balls of
eggs. These are spider eggs and the spiders usually do not survive the
winter, but the “kids” are safe.
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, so 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 the
houseplants have drained, I usually put a systemic insecticide on the
top of the soil in order to take care of the insects that will
hatch from the eggs in 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
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
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. I usually water
this about once a month.
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!!!
White flies can
become a major pest very fast in the house.
Therefore, I put a systemic in the soil when I first bring them
to their shady place after the washing is finished. Some systemic
insecticides can stink but the new systemic with imadicloprid (Merit) is
not too bad. However, the smell will be gone by the time you get them in
the house. It takes several
days for the systemic to dissolve into the soil and be picked up by the
roots and carried through the plant to the stem and leaves for the
“enemy” to feed on. Never use a systemic in the soil of a plant you
may eat or its fruit.
another of my worst pests. The
young are very tiny and get set up before you notice. They look like
brown, scaly bumps you can scrape off. Their backs are like umbrellas
that shed off any spray. The young scale can crawl to find a permanent
place to insert their mouth parts, and then their legs will disappear.
You will need to pick them off by hand by this time or use a soft
brush with soapy water. Insecticidal soap will get the crawlers before
they develop their umbrella.
Mealy bugs are
waiting in the spaces available or under the leaves. I use cotton swabs
dipped in rubbing alcohol to loosen any. My Clivia seems to be their
favorite down in the deep spaces between the long leaves that are so
close together. Luckily
their white, fuzzy body is easy to spot and they can’t move fast
enough to get away.