Living with plants

                The following is from Linn County Master Gardener Claire Smith:

 

                Many thanks to my son for power washing my deck Sunday.  Oh! What a mess it was!  The spring and summer rains left a thick cover of green gunk on the old pressure treated boards.   I’m on my way today to purchase weather seal.  The cleaning process was as a result of bringing house plants back indoors.  Each spring I set house plants on the deck to enjoy them in combination with potted annuals. 

                Bringing plants indoors prior to turning on the furnace acclimates them from the cooler nights.  If there is any possibility of pests residing in the plants, they get gentle warm water bath. 

Live greenery in the house in the winter creates such a soothing ambiance.  Plants add color to compliment the décor.  Bright colors such as scarlet and yellow are focal points. Blue and pink combine easily with other colors.  Silver is a striking addition anytime.  Add height by setting the plant on top of a larger overturned pot. Use a pedestal.  Turn a floor lamp base into a plant stand for vines.  Invest in a wheeled platform to easily move your huge “statement” plant.  Any texture enhances your rooms:  large leaves make a room feel larger; smaller leaves will make a space more intimate.      

Remember, any house plant is one that has been moved from its natural environment.  You control and are responsible for its livelihood with the amount of light, moisture and warmth you provide.  Select a healthy plant.  Check it for pests.  Check its general (healthy) appearance.  Check the label to be certain you can provide its optimum living conditions.  Just as with outdoor plants, some prefer sun, some shade.   Some prefer a constantly moist soil, some a dry soil.  Push your finger an inch or two into the soil.  If the plant prefers moist, the soil should be damp, but not soggy.  If it should be dryer, the soil should be dry to an inch or two below the surface.  Turn the plant about a quarter turn each time you water it to provide evenly distributed light.  Buy your houseplants now rather than transporting them in and out of cold temperatures. 

Are you in a quandary about which houseplant(s) will suit you?  Call the Linn County Extension Office Horticulture Line @ 319-447-0647 and ask for suggestions.  Then visit your favorite local garden center to visualize and take home your prize purchase! 

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