Plant Care Advice

HousePlant Care for the Winter

Suddenly, lots of people are having problems with their houseplants that thrived outside on the porch all summer and into the early fall. Green leaves are falling off, tips are turning brown or yellow, plants are becoming thin and straggly, 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. are moving in. Most of these problems are the result of  your being too nice to your plants. Outside in the warm weather the plant conditions were perfect. Plants got lots of bright lightVery few houseplants should be placed in direct sun. High light refers only to bright indirect light since direct sun often burns the leaves of indoor houseplants. An area that is too hot and dry encourages Spider Mites and causes blooms to quickly fade. A northern exposure really doesn't provide enough light for high light plants. These plants need to be placed directly in front of an east-facing window, within 1-3 feet of a west-facing window, and within 5 ft. of a south facing window. A high light area has over 300 ft. candles of light., temperatures were warm during the day and 10- 15 degrees cooler at night. New leaves were popping out every day.

The plants required lots of water, lots of 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., lots of attention. Now that they are back indoors, the light and temperatures are not optimal, plants are resting for a few months and not producing new leaves, and heaters are making the air very dry. You need to adjust your plant maintenance to the new conditions.

Your plants need less water because of lower light; and less or no 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. because they are not producing new leaves. If you continue to feed at the same rate as during the summer, the excess unused plant food accumulates in the soil and burns the tips of the leaves.

Group your plants or use wet pebble trays to increase the humidity. This will also help prevent 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. which love warm dry air. Now is a good time to give your plants a haircut, so that when they start to produce new leaves in a few months, they’ll be bushy and strong.

 

Are Christmas Trees Poisonous?

Christmas trees such as firs, pines, and cedar are mildly 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., sometimes causing drooling in pets and vomiting in children. The good news is that a child or pet would have to eat quite a bit to become sick and people and pets usually don’t like to eat Christmas trees.  The toxicity of the tree may be increased if it has been sprayed with a fire retardant.

Although the oil from Christmas trees can irritate the mouth and skin, the real concern is that if a small child or pet eats only a few needlesLeaves that are slender, narrow, and do not have a leaf blade are called needles., which are almost impossible to digest, the needlesLeaves that are slender, narrow, and do not have a leaf blade are called needles. could puncture or obstruct part of their intestinal tract.

Eating parts of an artificial tree is also dangerous since there can be toxins in the tree material and pieces of the tree can cause intestinal obstructions.

Another thing we tend to forget is the water the tree is sitting in to keep it looking fresh. This water may contain preservatives, pesticides, 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.s, or some people even put aspirin into it. Cover the water dish so that cats and dogs don’t drink from it and small children don’t play in it.

Stay safe this Christmas, keep pets and small children away from holiday plants and trees!

Why HousePlants Get Yellow Leaves?

Many articles about house plant care say that leaves on plants turn yellow because of insufficient light or over watering. The truth of the matter is, yellow leaves mean different things on different plants. If a ficus tree or a schefflera doesn’t get enough water, it develops bright yellow leaves. If a peace lily or pothos gets very dry and droops, the next time you water, a few leaves on the plant turn bright yellow. Some palm fronds turn yellow from too much water, some from too much light, some from too little light, some from too little water. Other causes of yellow plant leaves include too much plant food, lack of proper minerals in the soil, too much light, and the list goes on and on. The point is, it’s important to check the care instructions for your specific plant to find the right answer. What works for one house plant doesn’t work for others.

Learn how to identify and care for over 100 of the most popular houseplants in the Popular HousePlant section of our website: HousePlant411.com. If you still have questions about your plant go to Ask Judy and send me a picture and description of what seems to be the problem.

Cats and HousePlants

Cats love to chew on houseplants and dig in the soil. They need to do this especially when they don’t have easy access to real grass. Cats collect painful hairballs in their body and the only way to get rid of them is to regurgitate. Chewing on grass to helps a cat vomit up the hairballs; eating houseplants is the next best thing.

Since cats are great climbers, moving plants out of the way is not really an option, but there are several other ways to keep cats from eating your plants.

Try growing some pots of cat grass, you can usually find this at a pet store. This diverts their attention from your plants to plants of their own.  Some people recommend growing catnip, but that can make some cats manic and others drowsy.

You can mist the leaves of your houseplants with a mild mixture of cayenne pepper and water or citus juice and water. Cats don’t like these sprays nor do a lot of other plant pests, so it’s doubly effective. Putting pieces of orange or lemon rind in the soil is a good deterrent, because cats don’t want anything to do with citrus products.

Cats don’t like walking on tin foil, so a few strips of  tin foil on top of the soil can prevent them from munching on the plant.

Place a few cactus plants around your regular houseplants as a barrier. A cat is smart, it only needs to be pricked once and it will stay away from the area.

If you think your cat has eaten a 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. houseplant, you shouldn’t wait for the symptoms to appear, by then it may be too late. Signs of poisoning include: diarrhea, depression, lethargy, kidney failure, vomiting, foaming at the mouth, seizures, and coma. The ASPCA National Animal Poison Control Center is a 24-hour emergency service (1-888-426-4435).  Since it is answered by licensed veterinarians and toxicologists there is a charge.

Here are a few of the most toxic plants to cats. It does not include all plants that are dangerous, only some of the most common and most dangerous. Always check the toxicity of all your plants if you have cats in the house.

Amaryllis, Azalea, Caladium, Croton, Daffodil, Dieffenbachia, English Ivy, all Lilies, Marble Queen, Peace Lily, all Philodendron, Pothos, ZZ Plant