January 10Winter Houseplant Care
Those of us with houseplants feed our need to be gardening during the cold, winter months, right? Being aware of natural changes in the plant’s environment will aid us in achieving peace and tranquility as we wait for spring!
Since the angle between the earth and sun changes during winter, so might the need for our plants to change positions. Some may need to be closer to a window. That pleases plants and keeps us excited as we watch them flourish!
Winter plant life is somewhat like a bear hibernating. He sleeps for long hours and as he sleeps some body functions still occur. Plants like to rest, also. Less fertilizer is needed in the winter months. (Remember, placement of the plants nearer a light source is needed if you usually place them farther away from light.)
Be alert to avoid placing plants near hot air vents, cold drafts and radiators. Home daytime temperature range of 65-75 is favorable. Our green friends like 60-65 degrees at night. Some plants tolerate less heat, but less than 50 may cause damage.
Be sure placement of plants does not interfere with closing of drapes or other window treatments.
40-50% humidity is ideal. In our homes, however, many times it’s only 10-20%. Not to worry. If we group plants closer together, they benefit from evaporation of potting soil and transpiration of water from one another’s leaves. If there is room, place plants in a saucer with tiny gravel or rock and add water. Viola, instant humidity. Household humidifiers are also helpful.
While some people love misting, it does little good. Plants would need misting several times a day to raise humidity to desired levels.
Most houseplants should be watered when the soil is barely moist or almost dry to the touch. Know your plants. Ferns require more than succulents.
When watering , do it thoroughly. Water should freely drain out of the bottoms of the pots. If excess water drains into saucers, discard the water and replace the saucer beneath the pot.
If you would like a visual tutorial, click on the YouTube link – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GsJL1znqJ1s
The Cyclamen is a small plant that has sweet scented, small (1/2 to ¾ inch) flowers on long stems. The flowers can be pink, red or white. It is a tuberous perennial with heart shaped leaves. When in flower, the entire plant is only about 8 inches high.
Plant the Cyclamen in a good soil-based potting mix with the top of the tuber just above the soil line. Put the pot in bright light but not in direct sunlight. Cyclamen do not like heat but should not be exposed to temperatures below 50 degrees F. Keep the plant out of drafts and hot, dry air.
While leaves are present keep the soil moist at all times. During this stage the plant can be fertilized with a high phosphorus fertilizer.
Cyclamen go dormant for the summer. By April the plant begins losing leaves and flowers. Stop watering when the leaves turn yellow and wither. Allow the soil to dry out. Remove dead flowers and leaves. Water sparingly during the dormant stage Excess water will cause the tuber to rot and may trigger new growth prematurely. During this stage it can be repotted using fresh potting soil and a pot one inch larger in diameter than the existing pot.
Begin watering again around September. With proper care your Cyclamen should last year after year.
Follow these steps to make your cut flowers last as long as possible.
1. Be sure that the vase for your cut flowers, as well as the scissors or sharp knife used to cut the stems, are clean. Wash them in warm water with dish soap and bleach. Use a solution of 9 parts water to one part bleach. Be sure to rinse thoroughly.
2. Re-cut the stems of the flowers on a slant approximately 1” from the bottom of the stem or any length that is appropriate for the vase that will hold your flowers. This will allow the stem to take in more water. Make this cut while the stem is under water. Use a bowl or your kitchen sink to do this.
3. Remove any leaves that will be under water in the vase.
4. Keep flowers as cool as possible, away from direct sunlight, drafts, air-conditioning vents and heaters.
5. It is a good idea to change the water in the vase every two days and make fresh slanted cuts on the stem of your flowers. When you change the water be sure to clean the vase and scissors or sharp knife as indicated in step #1.
November 28DECEMBER Garden Tips
Holiday flowers and plants add festive beauty to our homes, but some pose danger to household pets. You may want to avoid the following plants
in your home and avoid giving these plants as gifts to family and friends who own a cat or dog .
Remember if pets ingest bulb plants, they may become severely ill or even die. The following lists plants to avoid if you have cats or dogs:
1. Holly -this plant commonly found at Christmas time can cause intense vomiting and diarrhea. Mental depression may also occur.
2. Amaryllis-pets ingesting this plant can have vomiting, diarrhea, depression, lack of appetite, tremors, drooling, and abdominal pain.
3. Mistletoe -This plant found in many homes at holiday time can also cause significant vomiting and diarrhea. In addition, pets eating mistletoe may have difficulty breathing, and slowed heart rate. The pet may collapse. If enough is eaten, the mistletoe may cause death.
Avoiding these holiday plants may save heartbreak. If your pet does ingest holly, amaryllis or mistletoe, call your vet .