It is time to begin bringing your houseplants and other tropical plants indoors for the winter. As you bring the plants inside, Rhonda Ferree, University of Illinois Extension educator, horticulture, suggests that you take the time to spruce them up a bit and give them new life.
First, check to see if the plant has any insect or disease problems. Rhonda has two tender herbs in containers that are usually moved indoors each year. This year, she has decided to throw the scale infested bay plant out and not bring it in for the winter. The scale is simply too hard to control indoors. Some other plant pests can often be remedied with an insecticidal soap application or a good cleaning.
Next, see if the plant needs repotted. Houseplants grow well outdoors in the summer and often need moved to a bigger pot. Sometimes plants just need repotted to give it fresh soil with better texture and nutrients. When repotting, use a good, sterile, multi-purpose potting soil.
Rhonda suggests that you clean and groom plants to keep them healthy, clean, and attractive. Clean plant leaves to remove dust and dirt build-up with 1-teaspoon non-phosphate soap in 1 quart of water. Commonly used soaps include Ivory dish soap and PineSol, but many others are okay too. Use a sponge, cleaning cloth, or paper towel to wipe all surfaces of the leaves clean. Wipe down containers too.
Groom plants by removing debris. Debris found on the plant, on the top of the soil, or at the bottom of the container should be cleaned out regularly. Keep the plant attractive by trimming off old flower heads and all dead or dying leaves. Plants kept outdoors during the summer may need pruning to fit indoors.
Moving nature back indoors for the winter allows homes to come alive. In fact, recent studies indicate that houseplants help keep people happier and healthier. Plants fill an important psychological function and are also proven to cleanse indoor air. Plants help us be more productive. Rhonda has houseplants in both her Havana and Jacksonville offices.
Add a new plant to your office or home this week too. For more information on this or other horticultural issues, contact your local Extension office by visiting www.extension.illinois.edu. You can also post questions on Rhonda's facebook page at www.facebook.com/ferree.horticulture.
Source: Rhonda J. Ferree, Extension Educator, Horticulture & State Master Naturalist Coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org
Pull date: October 12, 2012