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Brian Minter: Bringing tropical plants back indoors can be tricky

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Home humidifiers help maintain adequate humidity, but we all need to balance electricity use with our environmental impact. It helps lower household temperatures during the day when no one is home. On milder days, it is also advantageous to leave the windows slightly open so that fresh air can be drawn in. Moving the air with a summer fan set on low speed can help prevent fungal and disease problems.

Take a close look at your foliage to make sure there are no unwanted guests lurking in them.  Photo: Minter Country Garden.  For Brian Minters 1003 Col Minter for October 3, 2020. [PNG Merlin Archive]Take a close look at your foliage to make sure there are no unwanted guests lurking in them. Photo: Minter Country Garden. Photo by Minter Country Garden /.PNG

When you bring your plants indoors, carefully check them for insects and diseases. The underside of the leaves is the most likely area for insects to live. Remove any leaves with eggs or those showing signs of whitefly, aphids, floury beetles, and scales. New leaves will grow once the plant has settled inside. Examine the stems closely and examine the soil for crawling insects or tiny fungus gnats. Even if the plants look clean, spraying them thoroughly with Bio-Safer’s Soap ‘Trounce’ or horticultural oil will help prevent unseen and unwanted passengers from causing problems.

For the first week after you’ve brought your tropics in, spraying themselves with a fine spray of water two or three times a day will help the foliage to adapt to the drier environment. On the other hand, watering the soil can often be a problematic problem. All houseplants, and I mean every single one, must be root-bound from now until mid-April. So currently no repotting of plants. In autumn and winter, indoor plants do better if their roots touch the edges of the pot. When a root-bound plant is watered, the water passes through relatively quickly and does not saturate the soil, which leads to root rot. Ideally, the soil should be evenly moist, but not soaking wet. If the soil has peeled off the edge of the pot, it is a sign that the plant is too dry. A good guide is to check the moisture levels of your plants twice a week. Always use room temperature water when moisturizing your plants.

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