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Winter Houseplant Care

Caring for houseplants indoors during the winter is much more challenging than outdoors.  Controlled temperatures, shorter day length and forced hot air from our indoor heating systems leave the atmosphere dry.  You also need to be mindful of cold drafts. Plants near drafty windows and doors result in dark brown sections on leaves.  Plants struggle to push out new growth, foliage turns yellow and edges brown thus resulting in unhappy looking houseplants.

I avoid these problems by following a few simple rules…

Increase Humidity…plants love humidity, especially indoor tropicals.  Make sure you keep plants away from forced dry heat vents.  Increase humidity by placing the plant on a bed of moist crushed stones, cluster your plants together if possible, or mist the leaves 2-3 times per week.

Rotate…plants are phototropic, meaning they lean, or grow in the direction of the light.  With day length slowing increasing each day, plants are stretching toward the brightest area, forcing a normally full healthy looking plant to have an irregular shape.   Remember to turn 1/4 – 1/2 spin per week.

Water…wisely during the winter time.  Take time to water your plants on a regular schedule.  Keep a gardening journal to keep track of watering, misting and fertilizing your plants.  This will help to minimize long dry periods and help prevent overwintering.  Be aware of the water temperature.  Believe or not water that is too cold or too hot can effect your houseplants causing leaves to yellow and curl.  I always use tepid water during extreme cold spells.

Pest Patrol…be on the lookout for unexpected pest guests.  Insects, like Aphids, Mealy bugs, Fungus Gnats, and Scale are the most common pests.  Plants need adequate air flow, especially in extremely warm areas.  Keeping temperatures between 62°-72°from night to day is ideal and helps to keep pests away.

 

A DIRTY GIRL'S GARDEN

Easy Tips For Repotting Houseplants

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Easy step by step tips on how to repot your houseplants

There are many benefits to transplanting your indoor plants. One very important benefit is, all plants need adequate room for their roots to spread and grow.  The roots become constricted leaving no of room for new growth.  Roots begin to wrap around the ball of the plant and eventually inhibit new and lush green foliage. Healthy roots on the bottom mean a healthy plant on the top.

If you are not sure if your plants need to be repotted pot bound they dry out extremely quickly.  Here is a simple checklist.

  1. Plant has inability to hold water. Are you frequently watering everyday and does the water run through the pot in a single stream?
  2. Yellowing Foliage.
  3. Soil looking old, dry or moldy.
  4. Root system is tightly wrapping around the ball of the plant.
  5. Roots are starting to grow out of the drainage hole of pot.

Now is the perfect time to assess the overall health of your houseplants. Transplant any plant that has been in the same pot for more than one year. I Always recommend upgrading pot approximately two sizes larger than the size it is currently in.

Don’t forget to keep turning plants three quarters each week to ensure even growth. Begin fertilizer schedule, once a week.

 

Here are a few quick tips for transplanting houseplants:

1.) Choose a pot two sizes larger than the size the plant is in. Make sure to choose a pot with a drainage whole.

2.) Select a potting soil with good drainage suitable for indoor plants.  #3 chinese evergreen

 

 

 

 

 

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3.)Remove plant from pot and loosen the roots.  Make sure the roots are not wound tight in a ball.

 

 

 

 

4.) Place plant into new container and fill with soil. Be sure to leave a 1/4″ at the top to allow for watering. If pot is to full water will overflow out of pot.

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5.) Finally, water plant in. Wait 10 to 14 days before you begin fertilizing with a 15-15-15 water-soluble fertilizer.

For more Information on houseplants and indoor gardening go to:  http://gardensonthego.com/top-5-flowering-houseplants

A DIRTY GIRL'S GARDEN

Growing Micro Greens

Micro Greens are a mix of sprouts from a variety of greens  and herbs that range in flavor from sweet to spicy.  Researchers have found that micro greens have 40% more nutrients than fully developed greens.  These nutrient rich greens are extremely easy to grow and can grown indoors all year long.  They make a great addition to any sandwich, soup or salad.microgreens1

I planted some micro greens a few weeks ago and decided to use plastic take out containers that have a lid.  I liked this method because I get to reuse a recyclable material.  The lid on the container is an added bonus as well cause it creates a mini greenhouse.  Last year when I  originally posted this blog I used regular terra-cotta pot, it works just as well.

Fill the container with seed starting mix. I prefer a bagged Organic potting mix formulated especially for seeds,  Espoma Organic Seed Starting Mix.

Pre- moisten the soil.  I always find it easier to have the soil moist rather than dry.  When seeds are sown in dry soil and you water seeds can float to the surface.  Directly sow seeds in the soil in rows.  Cover seeds with soil.  Be careful not to over water, this may cause damping off, a fungal disease causing seedlings to break down after germination.  Only water when soil is thoroughly dry.

Close container to create a greenhouse like habitat.  If too much condensation builds vent or open lid during the day.

Seedlings stretching toward the light
Seedlings stretching toward the light

Place in south facing window…If you need more light I would highly recommend adding an artificial light source   I also recommend turning your seed trays to avoid phototropism.  

Harvest greens in 2-3 weeks.

A DIRTY GIRL'S GARDEN

How To Grow Happy and Healthy Houseplants

IMG_1574Gardening indoors can be a challenge for many people, but it doesn’t have to be. Everyone can enjoy the many benefits of foliage houseplant in their home.

In addition to cleaning the air of volatile chemicals studies have show that plants can improve your overall health and mental sharpness.

Today I’m sharing my easy tips on choosing and caring for houseplants.

The first question I always ask my clients is, where would you like add plants to your home? And what type of light exposure does the room have? This is key!
All indoor foliage prefer filtered, indirect light.
Make sure you know the lighting exposure…is the light bright or a strong southern exposure, or is the light bright only in the morning, for a strong northeastern exposure…or late in the afternoon for a western exposure.
Different plants like different light exposure.

Look for plants that have lush dark green leaves, no yellowing or brown edges.

The plant should have a nice full shape…no bare stems or wilting to the leaves.

Now you have chosen a beautiful plant you’ll need to know how to care for it.

I always tell my clients to follow, what I like to call the Lucky 7 rules for happy and healthy houseplants.

1. Keep plants away from any forced hot air or heat vents and drafty doors or windows.

2. Plants like a temperature fluctuation from day to night to be no more than 10-15 degrees, this will also depend on the variety of plant.

3. Allow plants to dry thoroughly between each watering. If you water excessively this can lead to insect problems, like fungus gnats. I recommend using a moisture meter to help you learn what is too wet or too dry.

4. Keep a calendar, mark down the day you water and then in a week check to see if plant dries out sufficiently in that time frame. If so, then water, if not wait a day or two.

5. Back off fertilizing. During the winter months refrain from weekly fertilizing and begin again in March.

6. Provide lots of humidity… mist foliage 2-3x a week.

7. And don’t for get to rotate your plants a quarter or half turn weekly to avoid phototropism, plants can lean into the light and becoming lopsided.

I hope these few easy tips will encourage you to garden indoors this winter season.

A DIRTY GIRL'S GARDEN

Care for Winter Houseplants

Only 36 days left until spring!  UGH! 36 days, I know I can’t take another minute, let alone 36 days!  I thrive and crave full sun and longer days.  My skin hates the forced dry air from the heater running all the time.  Sound familiar?  Well, if you said yes think about how your tropical houseplants plants feel.

Shorter winter days can be cruel on your indoor houseplants.  Leaf edges can turn brown and the plant becomes out of shape.

I avoid these problems by following these simple rules…

1. Increase Humidity…plants love humidity, especially indoor tropicals.  Make sure you keep plants away from forced dry heat vents.  Increase humidity by placing the plant on a bed of moist crushed stones, cluster your plants together if possible, or mist the leaves 2-3 times per week.

2. Rotate…plants are phototropic, meaning they lean, or grow in the direction of the light.  With  daylight slowing increasing by each day, plants are stretching toward the brightest area.   This forces a normally full healthy looking plant to become irregular.  Make sure you rotate 1/4 – 1/2 spin per week.

What are you doing to get through the next 36 days of winter?