Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Houseplants benefit us in many ways. They brighten our homes and offices, help change our moods and even clean the air. A common question we get is "will this plant do okay if I don't have a lot of light?" Just because you don't have a bright, well-lit room in your home or office, doesn’t mean you can't grow healthy houseplants. There are many plants which will tolerate low light conditions. Here are 5 plants that are easy to grow and will do well in areas where they don't receive a lot of light. 
If you like blooming houseplants then the Peace Lily or Spathiphyllum is the choice for you. This exceptional plant will bloom with lovely white flowers, in low light.
Chinese Evergreen is an easy plant to grow. Its distinct foliage makes a standout display in your room or office. Water, then let the soil dry out slightly before you water again.
Sansevieria or Snake Plant is an easy to grow succulent. Very tough and durable, very tolerant of low light. There are tall and short varieties available. Avoid over-watering. Let the soil dry out a little before you water again.
Pothos is a fast growing, low-maintenance plant that features heart-shaped leaves. These plants can be grown in a hanging basket or in a pot on the table. Water regularly.
Peperomia plants can handle low to high light. Let the soil dry out slightly between watering. Growing Peperomia supposedly brings you luck with money.
Dieffenbachia can handle low to high light, but no direct sun. Water regularly enough to keep the soil moist. It should be noted that these plants will grow in well-lit rooms as well as low-light areas.
Water carefully and feed your plants every 3-4 weeks. Choosing the right plant for your conditions will help your plant thrive for many years.



Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Growing citrus trees indoors.

Dwarf citrus trees are especially well-suited for container growing. Improved Meyer Lemon, Bearss Lime and Oroblanco Grapefruit are three great varieties for growing indoors. 
You can grow citrus trees in any type of clay, ceramic or plastic pots. Choose a pot that is slightly larger than the pot the tree came in. The new pot needs to be deep enough to provide room for the roots to expand and to provide stability for the tree as it grows. The new pot must have a drain hole, so you’ll need a saucer under the pot to catch overflow. Next, choose a potting soil with good drainage and a pH around 7. Your new citrus tree needs as much sunlight as possible, at least 6 to 7 hours daily. If you don’t have a bright, sunny spot, you can still grow citrus indoors by supplementing natural light with plant grow lights. Water your tree frequently enough to keep the soil moist but not soggy. Generally, when the top 2" of soil is dry, it's time to water your tree. If you're unsure of how wet or dry the soil is, consider buying a moisture meter. You can quickly check the soil and know whether it's time to water.  Keep an eye on the saucer below the plant and empty any excess water out of the saucer.
Potted citrus trees feed heavily on Nitrogen, the first number on the fertilizer label. You can use an organic fertilizer such as Espoma Tree-Tone.
Another choice for a fertilizer would be Grow-More Citrus Food. Follow label instructions to keep your tree healthy and producing fruit.
Oroblanco grapefruit has very fragrant flowers and produces sweet, seedless yellow fruit. Oroblanco is one of the best for indoor growing.
Bearss lime trees are another great variety to grow indoors. They produce seedless limes, year round.
The improved Meyer lemon tree is also a very good choice to grow indoors. Meyer lemon trees will produce abundant flowers and fruit. With the right light and a little care, your citrus tree will thrive year round.


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Houseplant care in the winter.

Sunday January 10 was houseplant appreciation day, an appropriate observation since houseplants help beautify our homes, elevate our moods and clean the air we breathe. Taking care of houseplants in the winter is a little different because the days are shorter, there is less light and the air is drier. For these reasons, your houseplants won't grow as vigorously as they do in spring and summer. They still need your attention, but they don't need as much water and fertilizer. They do need as much light as you can provide and they greatly benefit from increased humidity levels. A simple way to increase the humidity is to group your plants closer together. Plants release water through their leaves and grouping plants closer together increase the humidity.
Set up a pebble tray to increase humidity. Fill a saucer with small rocks and add water. Just make sure the bottom of the pot doesn't touch the water. Placing a room humidifier closer to your plants will greatly increase the humidity around your plants. Lower light levels also affect your plants. Not only are the days shorter, the sun is very low on the horizon so the angle is different. A location that works great for your plants during the summer may not be enough light for them in the winter. If possible, move your plants to a south or west facing window. Another option is to add supplemental lighting. Grow lights are available that will fit a standard light socket. You'll need to adjust your watering routine to match what your plants need this time of year. Slower growth means your plant won't need as much water to keep it hydrated. One way to tell if your plant needs water is to poke your finger into the soil and see how dry it is an inch or two below the surface.  When the soil feels dry below the surface, that's when it's time to water.
If you're still not sure, consider buying a simple moisture meter. You stick the meter in the soil and it will tell you or dry or wet the soil is. When you do water, try to use water that's room temperature. An easy way to do this is to fill your watering can the day before you plan to water.
It's also important to cut back on the fertilizing. Your plants don't need to be fed when they’re not growing as vigorously. Cut the recommended amount in half. You can feed your plants more as spring approaches and days get longer.
Finally, keep your houseplants clean. Wipe the leaves with a soft, damp rag. Small plants can be put in the sink and rinsed off. Use a product designed to help keep the leaves clean. This can help repel bugs, also. With a little help, your houseplants can do well in the winter season.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Basic Orchid Care

Basic Orchid Care

Did you receive an orchid for the holidays? Congratulations! Your orchid will fit in well with your other house plants and will do just fine if you keep in mind these things.
One of the most common and popular orchids to give is the Phalaenopsis orchid, also called a moth orchid. Often times, these orchids are potted in clear plastic containers filled with moss.
You'll want to leave your orchid in this container until it has stopped blooming. Then you can transfer your orchid into a different container. Ceramic pots and clay pots will work fine. Often they will have slits or holes in the side of the pot. This is to help air circulation around the roots. This also helps prevent over-watering. Orchids like to be watered and then allowed to dry out before you water them again. As a rule of thumb, water your orchids about once a week this time of year. If possible, use water that is room temperature and avoid watering the center of the plant. Your orchid will do best in a bright location, with no direct sun. 
One way to disguise the plastic pot is to double pot your plant in a more decorative container. Once you are ready to repot your orchid, select a container that is slightly larger than the original pot. Orchids like to be "snug" in their pots.
Next, use a bark orchid mix designed especially for your plant to thrive in.
Flowers will fall off as they begin to fade. If not, you can gentle pull them off yourself. Don't be in a hurry to cut back the flower stalk, once your orchid has stopped blooming.
Your orchid will often send up a second set of flowers on the old stalk.
Feed your orchids sparingly this time of year, usually every 2 to 3 weeks. When you do feed them, make sure the bark is wet first, and then add a very mild solution of fertilizer.
When you see problems like this, take a look at how you're watering your orchids. Best bet. Let them soak in the sink until the bark is good and wet then put them back in their location by the east window. With a little care, your orchid will thrive and flower for many years to come.