Houseplants will offer years of enjoyment indoorsAs the growing season comes to an end, we move from the outdoors back inside. Not only do we move indoors, but often times we take our houseplants that we have been growing outdoors on our decks, patios and in the gardens along with us. Many of these plants have developed quite well in the prime summer conditions of North Dakota.
By: John Zvirovski, The Jamestown Sun
As the growing season comes to an end, we move from the outdoors back inside. Not only do we move indoors, but often times we take our houseplants that we have been growing outdoors on our decks, patios and in the gardens along with us. Many of these plants have developed quite well in the prime summer conditions of North Dakota.
Since most houseplants are of the tropical variety, many cannot tolerate temperatures below 45 degrees without becoming stressed or damaged due to the change. I like to save as many as possible, but unfortunately there is not always the room inside to offer the best conditions to keep them alive.
My house quickly fills with the likes of the bouganvilla, brugmansias, oleander, banana trees, fushcia, jasmine, agapanthus, flowering maple, hibiscus and bird of paradise to new a few. Exhibit a little caution before moving these items back into the home environment as they may carry certain types of pests with them that could spread to other indoor plants that were never outside.
Always check the undersides of your plant’s leaves to make sure there are no insects on the backsides that may move indoors with them. If there are any visible, lightly spray down your plants with warm water and then place them into an area away from your other plants for a period of three weeks. During this time, apply insecticide to the leaves and soil once a week for three weeks. This will eradicate the insects that are currently feeding upon your plants while killing off any new insects that may hatch from eggs on the leaves in between time. Once the insects have been eliminated, you can move them into the area with your other plants within the home.
Common pests that may be feeding on your plants may be spider mites, which are very small and feed on the underside of the leaves, thrips and aphids which commonly feed on the plant tips where the growth is most succulent to them, and hard shell scales which are on both the leaves and the stems of the plant. These insects all feed on the sap juices of the plant.
One of the best insecticides to eliminate these pests is called insecticidal soap, which is easy on most plants while it kills the insects. It also has an oil base that suffocates hard-to-kill insects such as hard shell scale. There are also houseplant sprays that have pyrethrums in them to eliminate pests. These pyrethrums are organic chemicals that come from the chrysanthemum flowers. Sprays containing pyrethrums are less toxic than some other insecticides, but just as powerful in the end result.
If you are seeking a long-term care for insect free houseplants after they have been eliminated, apply a dose of systemic insecticide to the soil. This is available at many nurseries and comes in a powder or granular form. Directions state to apply a certain dosage to the top few inches of soil and water them in good. These systemic insecticides fight the insects from the inside out. In essence, this chemical causes the sap that the insects feed on to become toxic to them. Each application can last anywhere from 30 to 90 days depending on the type you obtain.
If the soil in the plant’s container gets infested with insects, it is best to repot the plant into a new sterile container and all-new soil. In the process of transplanting your houseplant, it is a good practice to cut your specimen back by no more than one-third of the total size. This transplanting will allow your plant to adapt well in its new environment.
Some houseplants require a higher humidity than most homes can achieve. The best way to create a more humid environment for your houseplants is to group humidity-loving plants together. Set each container onto a tray filled with pebbles, which are immersed in water. As the water evaporates, it passes through the leaves allowing them to remain healthy and strong. Also remember that houseplants indoors require less water than they did outside, as they are less active. Better to keep them a little on the dry side over being too wet.
Another good practice to perform is to wash your windows before bringing in your plants to allow the maximum amount of light penetration into the home where they will be growing.
Most plants that are moved back into the home environment will experience some leaf drop due to the temperature and lighting change. In most cases, this is not detrimental to the plant, as it will resume growing within the first month. Other plants will slow their growing process and go through a period of dormancy and will not resume growing until February, when the indoor lighting intensity increases due to longer days.
Many of us treasure our houseplants for many years. Often we move them indoors during the cold months and outside during the warmer growing season. There is no reason why you cannot have these wonderful houseplants for many, many years to come. Take a chance and move these treasured items back into the home. Not only do they clean the air within the home, but they will had a little life to our environment while it seems cold and bleak outside.