What should I spray on my houseplants before bringing them back inside?
Andrea from No. Turner, Maine
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By Lynda (Guest Post)09/16/2008
I'd definitely spray lightly but thoroughly with alcohol, wait ten minutes, then spray with plain soapy water and let plant leaves dry. The two sprayings should take care of most things. Remember that many will go into shock from the change of temp, lighting, and air, so do it gradually, if you can.
Start by turning them all the way around right where they are. Then move them after a few days of that new direction towards the door to your home. Next into the shade nearest the door for a day or two, finally you are ready to place near a window inside, or to the final resting place n o t near a vent, fan, fireplace, or gas jet. Plants will curl up and die quickly with that condition.
Try to keep them in as close to the same conditions they had outside as possible. If you must leave for a trip, cover them with clear thin plastic with toothpick holes in the top of the plant for their oxygen exhaust to rise and leave from their "breathing". Be sure to leave a lot more holes around the bottom edge of the plastic for it to suck carbon dioxide in. Don't leave plastic on it more than two weeks. This cuts down on drying out.
However, know your plants needs and habits well enough that you don't over or under water or fertilize. If it is a blooming tropical, it will possibly bloom in the winter or go dormant, depending upon how far you are from the tropics.
If a ficus, it will loose it's leaves when only slightly moved or wind blown and look dead but will grow them back over time and has not died unless it has been over or under watered, or over fertilized.
If a plant is a very slow grower, don't give it fertilizer often, but instead, spray it's leaves with fish emulsion, but water when dry soil. Remember this has an odor cats like. To smell and try to eat. Most plants are poison. Use good judgment.
If it's a fast grower, it's also a big eater, needing more fertilizer, benefiting most likely from egg shells and a little used coffee grounds once every other month.
If it's an annual, it will likely need more sun than you can provide, so don't be surprised if it gets leggy or loses most leaves and finally dies. Do no water or fertilize often. Let it rest and tell you when it needs water by the droopy or curled leaves. If leggy after a few weeks, move it closer to natural sunlight, but not in a hot window.
If a cactus or succulent, just let it dry out and water sparsely, with practically no fertilizer other than wal-mart
If an ivy, and dark leafed, it will grow most anywhere other than a closet. Same with a prayer plant, but both need lots of water. Varigated leaves require more light.
If an unknown, find out by networking or taking a leaf to the local garden center and asking the oldest or the manager what kind it is and what it needs to survive indoors in the winter.
All plants are different, need special attention, cannot be treated the same. The healthier the plant, the less pests.
Indoor climate, temp can be deadly especially if there are many plants competing for the same air, so scatter them throughout the house nearest to sunny windows. If no sun, good luck. I've kept them alive for several weeks with only lamp light, but they got ugly and sickly, wasting my money and time because of my lack of knowledge/experience back then.
If you purchased it from the indoor part of a garden center, it needs to be grown indoors, even if it grows ok outdoors. If from the sunny front of the center, keep it in lots of sun. This is the rule, but some centers hire folks who don't know much and this is confusing to purchasers.
Don't try to grow trees indoors unless you know all about them, have high ceilings, and good lighting, or the tree needs semi-shade. Same with shrubs and evergreens.
Prayer plants, airplane plants, ivies, and sheflerras seem to do best in my darker home with little natural light because it faces west and has few windows.
This has replies so I don't know why its still in lonely requests. So I am asking a question about it also. One of the replies said to take out the plant WASH off the roots etc to kill the bugs etc before bringing it in. I've never heard of that, remove it from the pot shake off the dirt and wash the roots then re plant? I specifically have 2 that I want to bring in, Black and Blue Salvia and Firecracker plant or David Verity. Can or should I do this to it? I'm leary and don't want to ruin it in the process. Thanks.
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