As the daylight begins to lengthen during mid- to late-winter, there are plenty of indoor gardening chores to do now that will reap benefits throughout coming year. So, while the snow is howling, and before those outside gardening chores take precedence, pick a sunny place inside to work on your houseplants. Here are some tips to help guide you:
- Inspect your plants for insect pests. Dry, low humidity environments typical of houses in winter are the ideal conditions for many insects. Aphids, scale, whitefly and mealybug populations can soar in these conditions. Depending on your plants, their size and the severity of infestation, insecticidal soap, dormant oil or just warm water can be sprayed on them. Physical removal or daubing with a cotton tip dipped in rubbing alcohol can handle smaller pest colonies. Even a bath of running water in a sink or shower will help to control problems.
- Prune your leggy plants to help shape them, and to acquire cuttings to root for growing replacements and small plants to give as gifts come May Day.
- Check any overwintering seeds you may have stored for spring seeding. Make sure they are still in a dry, dark and cool place. Then replenish your seedling supplies, you’ll soon be sowing seeds indoors for spring planting outside.
- Divide and re-pot houseplants such as oxalis, spider and clivia so they are not crowded in their pots. They will reward you by blooming better and being less likely to develop disease and insect problems.
- Houseplants can go partially dormant in the winter. Now is the time to begin giving them a low dose of fertilizer with each watering to spur them into luxuriant growth as the days lengthen - being careful not to over-water.
Throwing away weak or diseased plants, controlling pest populations and re-potting overgrown specimens will brighten any indoor garden and go a long way towards insuring healthy, beautiful plants all year long. Then, once you've got your indoor garden chores done, sit back with a good book, I mean garden catalog, and dream of that perfect flower and vegetable garden you'll have this year.
So what are you waiting for? Get growing!