The Indoor Garden Needs Attention

>> Thursday, January 13, 2011

In January, with the house closed up, the air has a tendency to get a bit dry. Some tips I have learned over the years are:

  • Cluster houseplants together when humidity is low.
  • Most houseplants are happiest when the relative humidity is 50% or higher. Although I can’t do much about this, I have found that sitting a pot of water among the plants all clustered together seems to help.
  • Most flowering plants need to be within 3 feet of a sunny window.
  • Repot any plants that are stressing from over crowded conditions.

Here are a few more growing tips for houseplants. Please feel free to add your own tips at the end of this page!

  • Most flowering plants need to be within three feet of a sunny window.
  • Most plants require 12 to 16 hours of light per day.

  • In late fall, begin watering houseplants sparingly until the light begins to increase in the new year. Drooping plants are a good sign of when plants need water.
  • More houseplants die from over watering than from anything else.
  • Water plants with room-temperature water. I fill up a gallon milk jug with water after watering so that its ready for next watering.
  • Water houseplants in unglazed clay pots more frequently.
  • Frequent mistings under the leaves of houseplants will discourage spider mites.

  • Most houseplants are happiest when the relative humidity is 50% or higher.
  • Group houseplants near each other to form a support group to cope with the low humidity of most winter homes.

  • In winter, feed sparingly; house plants will be sensitive to overfeeding at this time of year.

  • To get rid of bugs in houseplants, push a clove of garlic into the plant's soil. If the garlic sprouts and grows, just cut it back.
  • If spider mites are becoming a problem, a solution of 1 cup flour, 1/4 cup buttermilk, and a gallon of cool water, applied in a mist, is a good organic deterrent.
  • Your houseplants may sprout bugs once brought inside your house because they no longer have outdoor predators.
  • Remove aphids from houseplants with a mixture of equal parts rubbing alcohol and water and add a drop of dishwashing detergent. Apply this to troubled plants with a soft brush.

Winter Months
  • In colder regions, houseplants that have been outside for the summer should be brought in at the end of of July. A sudden cold spell will be too much of a shock for them to survive. This is also a good time to take cuttings.
  • It's also good to bring in plants before you start heating your home. This gives them a chance to adjust. Wash them thoroughly before bringing them in to rid them of any pests and eggs.
  • You can also dig up your rosemary, basil, tarragon, oregano, marjoram, English thyme, parsley, and chives to grow them inside as houseplants. Keep them in a cool, sunny spot, and allow the soil to dry out before watering. Snip off the leaves as needed in the kitchen, but do not strip them completely.
  • Divide and re-pot any pot-bound plants so they will grow well during spring and summer. Prune judiciously to create a compact, attractive specimen.
  • Provide extra protection to houseplants on window sills if it is very cold. Place cardboard between the plants and the glass. Be sure the plants don't touch the windowpanes.
  • As houseplants are growing more slowly in December light, cut down on watering by half until active growth resumes. Hold off on fertilizing as well.
  • If your plants seem a little worse for the winter, provide lots of sunlight, fresh air, and frequent bathing.

More Houseplant Tips
  • Save the water from cooking pasta. Let it cool, then use it to water houseplants. If the soil of your houseplants get algae, loosen the dirt in your pots periodically.
  • Pouring coffee or sprinkling coffee grounds helps acid loving plants.
  • Open the doors and windows when temperatures permit to give your house a change of air. This will benefit you and your houseplants. Re-invigorate your houseplants by removing the top 1/4 inch of soil and top-dressing with fresh potting soil.


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