Indoor Gardens Tips

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How do I pinch back my chrysanthemums?


For bushier chrysanthemum plants, pinch them back to a height of about six inches until mid July, when flower buds for fall begin to form. When a chrysanthemum is pinched back, two new branches come out from each tip. To make larger flowers, remove all but the strongest flower bud on each shoot.

How can I help ensure success in my gardening endeavors?

Using Grow Lamps Correctly

Beginning indoor gardeners often get frustrated when grow lamps do not give the results they expected. Two main reasons for this can be: 1. The lamp is placed too far away from the plant. Grow lamps should be placed 12 to 18 inches from the plant to work properly for plants. If you are raising seedlings, they will need to be closer to keep the seedlings from getting leggy, typically between three to six inches from the top of the seedling. 2. The lamp is not Full Spectrum. Sunlight contains many frequencies of light from visible, to UV, to Gamma, Alpha, and Beta Radiation. Grow lamps often only provide one end or the other of the spectrum. They come in "hot" varieties and "cold" varieties. To mimic the sun as best as we can, we need both a "hot" bulb and a "cold" bulb. Be sure to ask your local nurseryman for a grow lamp that has both or simply use two grow lamps. If you are using flourscent lights look for one bulb that is on the hot end of the spectrum and one that is on the cold end of the spectrum. Most of the time this information can be found on the bulb package.

How far do I cut back my Chinese hibiscus?

Chinese Hibiscus

Cut Chinese hibiscus back by up to 1/3 of the plant's height in early spring after it has stopped blooming. If the Chinese hibiscus is still blooming, wait until it is placed outdoors to do any pruning. Once you cut back the bush, shape it as desired by pruning out weak wood.

When should I repot my new houseplant?

How to Repot Houseplants

When you bring your new indoor plant home, it is better to repot it in a new container with fresh soil. Simply select a container one size larger than the one it's in. Slip the plant from it's pot. Gently remove all the old soil and unravel any bound roots, then repot the plant in it's new home. Fertilise the plant and water it thoroughly.

How can I increase the humidity for my indoor plants?

Humidity for Indoor Plants

To increase humidity for indoor plants, set a small plastic cup beside them and fill it with water. As the water evaporates, it humidifies the air immediately surrounding the plant. Sometimes this small amount of water makes all the difference.

Another easy way to provide better humidity
for houseplants is to use a mister to deposit a coating of small droplets of water over the leaves. It is best to mist in the morning, so that the leaves will dry before nightfall. Do not mist the plant where any foliage is exposed to direct sunlight.

How do I give my plants calcium?

Eggshell Tea

To feed your plants calcium, put several eggshells in a jar filled with water. Let the mixture stand for a few days. Use this solution to water your plants. The eggshells are an excellent source of calcium. You can also use the left over water from boiling eggs to water your plants.

How can I make sure my plants grow evenly?

Rotating Plants for Even Growth

Try rotating plants one quarter turn once a week to keep them growing evenly. Rotating plants keeps them from leaning so far to one side that they eventually tip themselves over.

What can I give my African violets to increase the iron in the soil?

African Violets

Insert a few rusty nails into the soil around your African violets. The blossoms will be larger, more profuse and brighter. The nail provides a slow release of valuable minerals to African violet plants.

How do I keep my leaves from getting dusty?

Keep Your Leaves Clean

To freshen your dusty houseplant leaves, wash both sides in one easy step. Dip an old cotton glove in tepid water, run the leaves between your fingers and they will look fresh and clean.

What is the ideal temperature range for my indoor plants?

Ideal Temperature For Indoor Plants

Indoor plants perform better when the nighttime temperatures are at least 10 degrees cooler than the day-time temperature.
The ideal temperature range for plants is about 70 degrees during the day and 55 degrees at night.

How can I help ensure success in my gardening endeavors?

Root Rot

If you have a plant that is suffering from root rot, all hope is not lost. Remove the plant from the soil and gently wash the roots in tepid water. Then, dip them in a glass with one to two teaspoons of anti-bacterial mouth wash and eight ounces of water to stop the root rot from spreading. Place the plants in clean, sterilized soil. Water them with tea made from flowering dogwood branches or willow branches. First you must kill the bacteria, then you need to promote regrowth. A light fertilizer will also help the roots re-establish.

Should I prune poinsettias?

Prune Your Poinsettia

Old poinsettia plants should be cut back to within six inches of the pot in April and then transplanted to a new pot. An even better idea is to root cuttings taken from the old poinsettia plant to create fresh, vigorous plants.

Any tips on buying potted mums?

Potted Mums

When buying potted mums, make sure that there is a fair amount of color showing through the buds. If you buy potted mums in tight bud, they may never open. A good potted mum should have 20 or so buds showing color, with more to come.

How can I tell if my indoor plants get enough light?

Light Requirements

Most indoor plants have surprisingly high light requirements, needing up to 16 hours of light a day. To see if your plants' light requirements are being met, hold your hand over a plant on a sunny day. If you don't see a shadow, move the plant closer to a window. However, don't let plants touch the window because cold windows can give leaves frostbite; hot glass can sizzle a leaf tip.

What are the growing requirements for grape ivy?

Grape Ivy

Grape ivy will grow in full to low light.
Plant this ivy in regular potting soil and feed it with houseplant food every three or four weeks. Water grape ivy frequently in the summer, but water less often in the winter if you notice brown patches on the leaves. Once grape ivy is established, it will grow prolifically.

I have a decorative container that has no drainage holes, what do I do?

Decorative Containers And Drainage Holes

Many decorative containers can be purchased that do not have drainage holes. If you prefer to not drill drainage holes into them, simply place a level layer of rocks or pebbles into the decorative container. Then, place your plant into a pot that does have drainage holes and put it into the decorataive container on top of the rock layer. Spaces between the two pots can be filled with soil or peat moss or simply left empty. Putting a piece of rope or other material around the second pot will make it easier to seperate the two pots without disturbing the plant or taking a chance on dumping soil.

When do I pinch back my fuschias?


Pinch back the tips of your fuchsia plants in early spring to help them become bushier. Be sure you don't pinch back the tips of your fuchsia plant too many times or you will remove flower buds.

What can I do to prevent pests?

Prevent Pests

It is easier to prevent pests on plants than it is to get rid of them after they've taken hold. To prevent pests on indoor plants, you should:

1. Freeze potting soil before using it. This will help kill pests that hatch when the soil warms up.

2. Wash plants that have been outside over the summer with insecticidal soap to remove any pests.

3. Check plants at least once a month for signs of pests and treat them immediately.

Do clay pots need more watering?

Clay Pots For Indoor Plants

Indoor plants in clay pots need more frequent watering than those in glazed or plastic pots. This is because clay pots are made with porous material that will wick moisture away from the soil.

Is softened water safe for my plants?

Water Tip

Use only drinking water for indoor plants. If you have a water softener, use only water that is NOT connected to it. (Most kitchens are plumbed so that the cold water bypasses the water softener.) Water from the softener often has too much salt in it and excess salt kills plants.

How often should I check for pests on my indoor plants?

Controlling Spider Mites and Aphids

At least once a month, inspect your houseplants for signs of spider mites or aphids. Be sure to examine under the leaves as well. Making this a regular habit will make it less likely that you'll ever be faced with a major infestation, as you will catch the problem early. If you do find any spider mites or aphids, use an insecticidal soap to control them.

How do you water bromeliads?


You cannot water bromeliads the same way you water other plants. Add water to the center cup of the plant and only keep the soil slightly damp. An occasional misting, twice a week, keeps bromeliad leaves clean and provides humidity.

When do I prune a Cape Jasmine?

Cape Jasmine

You can prune your cape jasmine if it has grown a bit too large. Cut your cape jasmine back by 1/3 in the spring before you set the plant outdoors for the summer. Pinch off the tips when new shoots reach six inches in length. Continue doing this until August.

Why shouldn;t I water tropical plants with cold water?

Watering Tropical Indoor Plants

When watering tropical indoor plants, make sure to use room temperature water. Cold tap water can damage the delicate root hairs and tropical indoor plants may even die if the water is too cold.

Is it safe to have diffenbachia around my pets?

Diffenbachia Plant

Diffenbachia, also known as dumbcane, is a toxic plant that can cause problems for small children and pets. The leaves contain a substance that can cause intense burning, and in some cases, paralysis of the vocal chords.

What plants are safe for my indoor pets?

Indoor Gardens and Pets

Many common house plants and outdoor plants are highly toxic to cats and dogs. If you keep both gardens and pets, you need to be certain your plants will not harm your animals. As all pet owners know, both cats and dogs like to dig in the dirt and chew your prized plants.

Some common house plants which can be harmful to pets include aloe, dieffenbachia, various ivy and lily plants, carnations, philodendron, and holly. These plants account for only a small percent of household plants which can be toxic to animals. Before bringing a new plant into your pet's home, always be sure it is not harmful.

If you simply cannot live without your aloe plants, keep them in a place beyond your pet's reach. For cat owners, this is nearly impossible and it is best to grow only pet-friendly plants and not take the risk.

For a complete list of harmful plants, more information on pets and potential toxins, or if you think your pet might have ingested a toxin, call your local veterinarian or visit the ASPCA's Animal Poison Control website, a great resource for pet-related questions.

How are house plants propagated?

Propagating House Plants

Most house plants can be propagated easily with the right steps. Propagated plants can fill your house with more greenery or supply a reserve of quick gifts for friends. Follow these steps and tips to start growing.

African Violets (Saintpaulia Ionantha)
African Violets make wonderful gifts when in bloom. Though notoriously difficult to grow, they can be easily propagated and, with the correct care, kept healthy. When caring for an African Violet, always remember that moderation is key. Too much or too little water or sunlight will harm the plant. These plants often fall victim to root rot when over-watered. African Violets thrive when watered from the bottom (try a self-watering planter or a pot with holes in the bottom placed in a bowl of water).

To propagate an African Violet, clip a single leaf from the parent plant. The leaf can be clipped with or without a stem (though, it is usually best to leave about an inch of the stem attached). Fill a small plastic cup (clear works well because the sunlight will warm the plant and the soil) with special African Violet soil and either place the leaf without a stem on top of the dirt or poke the stem of the leaf into the dirt. Water the plant so the soil is thoroughly saturated, but not pooling. Cover the cup with a small, plastic bag and place in a sunny location. Be sure to keep the soil moist at all times.

Once you see that the stem or leaf has grown roots, the plastic bag can be removed. Before you know it, the plant will sprout new leaves and eventually bloom. Usually, the propagated plant will flower the same color as its parent plant. Sometimes in cases where the parent plant grew from a grafted seed, your new plant will surprise you with a different colored bloom.

Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera)
Like African Violets, Christmas Cacti are also easily propagated. This particular type of cactus can survive in regular potting soil, but will do best in a potting soil designed for cacti.

In order to propagate a Christmas Cactus, break a couple of leaf sections from the parent plant between digits. If one leaf breaks from the plant, it can be rooted, but a chain of leaves works best. Poke the bottom leaf about an inch deep into soil in a small cup and place in full sun. Leave the plant uncovered, but keep it well-watered until it has rooted. You will be amazed by how quickly these starts will take off in the summer.

Many succulents can be propagated and sometimes propagate themselves when their leaves (or branches) fall from parent plants. Propagation works better with some succulents than others. To propagate a succulent plant, break a leaf from the parent plant and poke it into soil. This leaf can be grown in its own planter or in the same pot as its parent. There is no need to cover a succulent with a plastic bag or to keep the soil overly moist. Water the new plant just as you would its parent. Be especially careful not to over-water succulent plants. You will need to be more patient with your succulent plant starts because they grow more slowly than other plants mentioned in this article. As long as the leaf does not appear shriveled or molded, the plant is alive and will eventually sprout new leaves.

Pothos and Ivy Plants
Pothos and Ivy plants can be propagated as well. These plants, however, need to be rooted in water rather than soil. Cut a section from the plant and place it in a vase of water. Be sure to change the water every couple of days to keep the plant from rotting. After a while, you will see that roots have sprouted from the section of plant. At this time, the plant is ready to be potted in soil. Keep the soil moist at all times for the first couple of weeks that the plant is potted.

Plants can be propagated in fall and winter, but you will find the plants growing more quickly and that you have more success with spring and summer propagations. The warmer weather and longer hours of sunlight will help your plants grow. If propagating during the darker months, try using a grow lamp and terrarium.

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