Home > Great Big Greenhouse Blog > November 2017 > IN THE GARDEN with DOUG - WINTER CARE OF TROPICAL PLANTS


We have now had our first killing frost of the season.  Our tropical houseplants have moved inside to live with us for the next few months.  There are things to keep in mind in order to keep these plants thriving and growing.  Let’s try to avoid some of the more common house plant care mistakes:
Location, Location, Location  -  It only stands to reason that any sun loving tropical will need to be placed in front of a window that gets as much sun as possible.  Conversely, any lower light plant can be placed inside with lesser sunlight.  Choosing a location in your home is an important consideration.  Don’t be too alarmed if you experience some yellowing of leaves and fallen leaves.  The plants are acclimating to a different environment.  Please keep in mind that warm air blowing from a heat vent or cold air from a door or window will almost always result in the plant performing poorly.
Watering Schedule  -  Without a doubt water is the most important factor when it comes to plant care.  House plants will usually adapt to a “schedule”, but this takes time.  When you bring a plant inside, check the soil every day for a week or two, to learn how fast the plant uses water.  While many plants prefer to be kept moist during the hot, summer months, fall and winter is a time to allow the soil to dry slightly between watering.  Because plant growth slows during this time, the plant requires less water.  Excess water promotes root and stem rot.  Remember: it is always easy to add water to dry soil, but it is very difficult to dry out a waterlogged root system.  When you do water be sure to water thoroughly, water slowly, water evenly around the root ball.  Try to use room temperature water. 
Proper Light  -  Misjudging your light is a common house plant care mistake.  It is important to know the orientation of windows, and recognize those factors that compromise that exposure (sheers, blinds, awnings, trees, porches, etc.)  Flowering tropical require a bright, sunny window for the winter in order to promote healthy growth.  A bright, sunny (southern or western exposure) is usually sufficient for most varieties.  If your home does not have any bright windows, a grow-light could be used to ensure your plants get enough light.  Another tip to remember:  rotate plants periodically to maintain even growth.
Fertilizing  -  Fertilizing requirements of most plants will decrease in the fall and winter months when growth slows and water requirements diminish.  A monthly feeding of a liquid fertilizer such as 20 -20 -20 should be enough for most plants.  Plants that never receive any fertilizer, lose vigor, color; over application of fertilizer can cause root damage, and foliage damage.  Apply when actively growing, and according to the label.
Managing Pests  -  Insect pests can be a problem from time to time on indoor plants.  If and when detected, most indoor plants can be sprayed with soapy water, such as a solution of Ivory Soap and water  -  the key word here is soap  -  not detergent.  Get good coverage on the leaves both top and bottom and the stems as well.  Bottom line, always identify the problem first, then treat accordingly.  A soapy water bath is the simplest treatment first.  Once the pest is identified, and you need something more stringent than Ivory soap, the next suggestion is to consider using an Insecticidal Soap.  Bonide makes an Insecticidal Soap for multi-purpose insect control that comes in a Ready to Use spray bottle.  Also, insects may be harboring in the soil.  Yellow sticky cards can also help you to control and trap pests.
                                                                HAPPY ‘INDOOR’ GARDENING
Posted: 11/16/2017 by Doug Hensel | with 0 comment(s)
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