As summer fades and fall approaches, many an indoor plant collector begins thinking about the process of acclimating plants back into the lower light of indoors. All those lovely bright green specimens that have been out on the deck or under the pergola must come indoors before the temperatures swoop down into the frost zone. A little preparation will make the transition successful.
Always inspect carefully for insects. Look for cottony masses in the spaces where leaves join stems. Mealy bug can be carefully removed with a cotton swab and alcohol or a few squirts of Sparkle. Don’t use any other spray glass cleaner -ammonia is toxic for plants. Spider mites make webs between leaves, leave eggs on leaf backs that look like tiny grains of sand, and the adults do look like a tiny spiders-visible with a magnifier. Wipe off all webbing and fill a clean spray bottle with a teaspoon of ivory soap in two cups warm water. Soak down all surfaces and repeat weekly till insects are gone. Scale insects can be hard or soft shelled, but they also sometimes come inside with your plants in the fall. often you will notice sticky sap on lower leaves or a surface below the infested plant. If possible, prune out affected stems or leaves. Wash off adults with a wet paper towel and then spray with your soap mixture or Sparkle. Repeat in 7-10 days.
Be sure you examine and wipe down the planters and saucers and leave all insects outdoors. If possible, spoon off the top inch of loose soil and gently pack in new sterilized potting soil to reduce the chances of bringing in fungus gnats, those irritating flying insects that thrive in moist potting soils. Isolate plants that have been outside away from your year- round inside greenery until you are certain they bear no freeloaders. Save fertilization for March, when days begin to lengthen again.
You may notice the plants have grown while outdoors. Sometimes pruning of pothos, ficus, scheffleras or dracaenas is needed to help them fit the space available for them inside. There are some great plant pruning videos available on YouTube, and it is often best for a new gardener or inexperienced pruner to do one plant at a time and just a few cuts at that first attempt. Always use alcohol to clean the blades of your hand pruners before and between plants, so as to minimize the chance of disease induction.
If you are an experienced indoor gardener, you already know that plants do best when their location is selected based on light levels. Try to return each plant to the location where it was thriving before it went outdoors in late spring. Be sure you know the name of each plant species, so you can look up care and troubleshooting help online, or ask a friend in a plant chat for advice. Just a little extra care will help your little green friends do well this fall.
On the Green Side
Have you noticed how some folks at the grocery store seem to have a bouquet of flowers tucked in to take home and arrange each week? That can be fun, and we certainly applaud the practice of taking home flowers for our own tables.
Just as fun is ordering for pick up or delivery a flowering potted plant for rotation. That just means having a pretty planter on the table at home or perhaps your desk where a flowering potted plant adds color and vitality. Orchids, bromeliads, anthurium, mums, kalanchoes and gerbera daisy all make great options. Some folks choose to have us bring and care for plants such as these as part of a larger program in their space. Some simply want a professional making that seasonally appropriate selection for them every few weeks as needed, and making sure they get the care instructions needed for success. Since all last at least 2 weeks and some as long as 8 weeks in full color, the cost is less than $10 per week and the joy these flowering plants bring can be priceless.
As we seek to spend more time outdoors, we focus on making our outdoor spaces attractive and flexible. As social distancing appears to remain a norm for some time yet, we need to think about how we Michiganders accomplish these goals when the weather gets cold.
Some households may add a couple of standing patio heaters to an open patio or pergola. For many, adding a firepit may be the right approach.
Some of us will add both fans and small electric heaters to that three seasons room, to accomplish the air movement combined with comfort.
Each household considers a solution to extend the fall season and remain outdoors as weather permits.
For some, a firepit or some additional plantings may bring additional enjoyment to time spent outdoors. The Plant Professionals is happy to consult on any of these outdoor projects.
Where Did All the Flowers Go?
Most landscapes have definite strengths and weaknesses. Strong clean lines of hardscape with large trees and evergreens may be impressive, yet could benifit from plantings with more color.
Overflowing flower beds may give a riot of color at a particular season, but you may feel as if you are in servitude to the maintenance required to keep up with the weeding and deadheading.
Perhaps a homeowner is proud of one garden area, yet sees other garden aspects need improving. For many, this enforced time at home has accentuated garden areas that fall short of expectations.
Did you purchase the home a couple of years ago, and you are ready to turn from interior updates to the garden design? Are you planning to sell the empty nest in a few years, and want to make the needed improvements over a few seasons? Has this season of staying at home opened your eyes to what your garden could do for you and where it falls short?
The prescription for any of these garden dilemmas is to invite Alexa to come walk with you in your garden. She can be your design doctor, helping you identify what is bothering you, evaluate the challenges and potential solutions, and then make a plan for the implementation of a solution that will work well for you. She has many style and species ideas to share and can help create the right balance for you.
Not only can we design and install the needed changes, we can repair shifted pavers, improve drainage and do corrective pruning to give decorative trees and shrubs new life. Call the design doctor to arrange a house call for your landscape