Common Sense Advice

Winter Houseplant Care Advice

1. During the winter months the days are shorter and there is less light. Be sure your plants are getting enough light where they are or move them to a brighter location.

2. HousePlants do not grow as quickly during the winter, be careful not to over water and cut back on your plant food. Brown leaf tips are often an indication of too much fertilizerPlants need fertilizer only when they are actively growing. Slow growing plants in low light require very little plant food. Too much fertilizer is worse than not enough. Most plants prefer a water soluble plant food at 1/2 the recommended strength. Plants that are in bloom or dormant should not be fertilized. Houseplant food contains nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). A fertilizer containing these elements in equal proportion is considered a balanced plant food. Nitrogen helps in photosynthesis and encourages the growth of leaves and stems. Potassium and phosphorus also help in photosynthesis and aid in root and flower development. Most fertilizers have trace elements of other minerals that are lacking in the soil but are necessary for good plant growth. Fertilizers have a high salt content. If a plant is not producing new leaves and doesn’t absorb the fertilizer, salts build up in the soil. These salts can burn the roots, discolor the leaves, and cause new growth to be small..

3. The air is dry so keep a look out for spider mitesSpider Mites, members of the Acari family, are small insects about 1mm in size. The most common indoor plant mite is the red spider mite (also called the two-spotted spider mite.). These pests lay their eggs on the under surface of leaves and produce fine webbing especially where the leaves are attached to the stem. Spider mites are hard to see with the naked eye, and may appear only as small red dots. They are more often recognized by the gritty feel of the leaf when you run your finger down it’s length, or by the appearance of discolored leaves due to the sucking action of the mites. The best way to prevent spider mites is to keep your plants clean and dust free. Treat spider mites by spraying every ten days for a month with a product such as Safer Insecticidal Soap., especially on your ivies and scheffleras. Good preventive care is to spray your leather leafed indoor plants with a mixture of ½ soapy water and ½ alcohol every 3-4 weeks.

4. Keep plants away from cold drafts and heating vents. No ficus trees near the front door or ferns being blasted by hot air!

5. Pets and small children spend more time indoors during the winter. Be sure any Poisonous HouseplantsIn her new book, Don’t Feed Me to Your Cat!, plant care professional Judy Feldstein shares information about twenty-five common houseplants, each with various levels of toxicity, and the possible consequences if your pet or child snacks on them. are well out of reach. Better yet, consider replacing them with non- poisonousPlants are a great addition to homes and offices, but it’s important to know whether your plants are dangerous to children, pets, or even adults. Some plants contain chemicals such as oxalates, solanine, glycosides, or alkaloid lycorine that may cause vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, swelling and redness of the mouth, throat, and lips, and trouble breathing. Touching parts of certain plants, especially the sap, may cause various skin irritations. The weight and age of the human or pet involved, and the part and amount of plant eaten determine how severe the reaction to the toxins will be. Although plants may be listed as non-toxic, they can still cause individual allergic reactions. If there is any question after a houseplant has been ingested or touched immediately call the Poison Control Center 1-800-222-1222 The Handbook of Poisonous and Injurious Plants [Paperback]is an excellent reference to keep around if you have young children and pets. plants just to be safe.

How to keep Your Nails Clean When Gardening

I love to garden both outside and indoors. I don’t like to wear gardening gloves. I always want my nails to look pretty. There is a way to make this work that is both simple and inexpensive. The only thing you need is a bar of soap. I use Ivory or Dove Soap since both are biodegradable. Before you start your gardening chores, wet the bar of soap and drag or scrape your fingernails across the soap. The soap blocks the top of your nails and forms a barrier so no dirt can get in.

When you’re finished playing around with your plants, repotting, or digging up  bulbs for the winter, just use a nail brush to wash away the remaining soap.


Not All Thieves are not Stupid

I know I usually talk about how to care for plants, but this was so good I had to pass it along.

1.  A friend of a friend left their car in the long-term parking at the airport while traveling and someone broke into the car.  Using the information on the car’s registration in the glove compartment, they drove the car to the people’s home in Pebble Beach and robbed it.  So I guess if we are going to leave the car in long-term parking, we should not leave the registration/insurance cards in it, nor your remote garage door opener.
This gives us something to think about with all our new electronic technology.

2.  GPS.
A police report states that someone had their car broken into while they were at a football game.  The car was parked in a designated parking lot adjacent to the football stadium and specially allotted to football fans.  Things stolen from the car included a gun, a garage door remote control and a GPS which had been prominently mounted on the dashboard.  When the victims got home, they found that their house had been ransacked and just about everything worth anything had been stolen.  The thieves had used the GPS to guide them to the house.  They then used the garage remote control to open the garage door and gain entry to the house.  The thieves knew the owners were at the football game, they knew what time the game was scheduled to finish and so they knew how much time they had to clean out the house.  It would appear that they had brought a truck to empty the house of its contents.
Something to consider if you have a GPS – don’t put your home address in it … Put a nearby address (like a store or gas station) so you can still find your way home if you need to, but no one else would know where you live if your GPS were stolen.

I never thought of this…….
This lady has now changed her habit of how she lists her names on her mobile phone after her handbag was stolen.  Her handbag, which contained her cell phone, credit card, wallet, etc., was stolen …20
minutes later when she called her hubby, from a pay phone telling him what had happened, hubby says ‘I received your text asking about our Pin number and I’ve replied a little while ago.’  When they rushed down to the bank, the bank staff told them all the money was already withdrawn.  The thief had actually used the stolen cell phone to text ‘hubby’ in the contact list and got hold of the pin number.  Within 20 minutes he had withdrawn all the money from their bank account.

Moral of the lesson:
a.  Do not disclose the relationship between you and the people in your contact list.  Avoid using names like Home, Honey, Hubby, Sweetheart, Dad, Mom, etc. …
b.  And very importantly, when sensitive info is being asked through texts, CONFIRM by calling back.
c.  Also, when you’re being texted by friends or family to meet them somewhere, be sure to call back to confirm that the message came from them.  If you don’t reach them, be very careful about going places to meet ‘family and friends’ who text you.