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Prepare For Fall September 17th, 2018

PREPARE FOR FALL

It’s time to start thinking about bringing in your houseplants that have been outside for the summer.  Once the temperature starts to dip in the mid to low 50’s at night most houseplants should be inside.

A couple of exceptions would be Christmas cactus and geraniums.  Cool weather and some sunshine will usually cause cactus to develop flower buds.  Geraniums while they won’t survive freezing will hold up under a light frost.

Before I bring in my houseplants there are some things I like to do to prevent bringing in unwanted pests and disease.  First, I like to prune pretty hard.  Any plants that need repotting before coming inside I repot and root prune.  Second, I wash the plants well.  I take the garden hose and wash them standing up and then lay them on the side and try to wash the bottom of the leaf.  If they are in pots small enough to handle easily I fill a tub with water and set them in the tub and leave them until they stop bubbling.  This eliminates soil insects.  As soon as they stop bubbling I bring them out and let them drain and leave them to dry.  The last thing I do is spray them with a house plant insecticide.  As soon as all this is done inside they come.

The cactus and geraniums mentioned above will need to be brought in or protected from freezing weather or hard frost. Geraniums I toss.  If you want to over winter them I would cut them back by two thirds or more.

Tropical plants such as hibiscus or a non-frost hardy gardenia I treat a little differently. I leave them out until nights start to dip into the 40’s.  I then do what I recommended for my houseplants except I prune a little harder.  I don’t worry about where I put them when I bring them inside.  No matter where I put them the leaves seem all fall off over the winter.  If you have a bright sun porch they might keep most of their leaves over the winter but dropping their leaves does not seem to hurt the plants.  I cut back on watering while they are inside.  I water, maybe, every two or three weeks while they are inside.

In the Spring when I set them outside I fertilize heavily, water thoroughly and new growth starts in a few days and soon they burst into bloom.

The houseplants come back outside soon after the tropical plants.  I follow the same fertilizer and watering routine for them.

We are now ready for another summer.

 

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