Sunday, July 3, 2016

Indoor Plants and Gnats! So Annoying...

How to Combat Those Little Flying Bugs - GNATS!

Although fungus gnats can be a problem with indoor plants at anytime of year, they can be a bigger problem during the warmer months as they are also outside in greater numbers and, no doubt, plotting an invasion of your home...  :)

Aglaonema Silver Bay Indoor Plant
Not a Fungus Gnat-Just One of My Plants
Here is a little information about fungus gnats:
  • Fungus gnats are small flies, about 1/8" long, black or dark colored. Adult females may lay up to a few hundred eggs in a 7-10 day period. And they will lay them in the moist topsoil of your indoor plants, if they get a chance.
  • Fungus gnat eggs hatch in about six days, producing small, white maggots.
  • Larvae will grow to about 1/4" in two weeks and then form pupae.
  • Then adults will emerge from plant media in a week or less. And the cycle begins again!
While adult fungus gnats do not damage your indoor plants, they can be very annoying. You may see numbers of them about your plants, if they are disturbed. They also seem to be attracted to lights, computer monitors, etc.

The larvae feed on organic material, including your houseplant's roots and can cause damage to your houseplant's health. This damage can allow disease to enter plant tissue.

Your plant may or may not show signs of decline. It is possible to have leaf loss, stunted growth and yellowing of foliage.

Properly watering your indoor potted plants (not keeping plant media constantly soggy) can help ease the problem to some extent. Using sub-irrigation containers for your plants is also a good way to keep these little pests from becoming a problem.

If you are having a problem with gnats in your indoor plants, one of the things you can do is remove the top inch or so of soil from your plants and replace with fresh, sterile soil. Gnats reproduce mainly in the topsoil of your plants so removing this and replacing with sterile potting soil should remove a large part of the problem.

It is best to use sterile soil for your indoor potted plants. Here are some ideas for sterilizing your own potting soil:
  • Place slightly moist potting mix in an oven proof tray. Cover with foil and bake for about 45 minutes in a 200 degree oven. Turn on the fan! Remove and allow to cool before using.
  • During the hot summer months, you can sterilize using the energy from the sun. Dampen soil and place in black plastic pot. Cover any drainage holes with plastic first. Set in the sun and cover with a sheet of clear plastic.This will adequately heat the soil and it should be ready to use in about a week. Saves electricity too!

One other helpful, non-chemical way to fight fungus gnats that are already present is to use sticky trap cards. These attract the fungus gnats, they get stuck and can not get away. Basically just fly paper in card form. I use these in my interior landscape accounts by placing them just inside the grow pot, usually stuck to the side. This catches the fungus gnats and keeps them from bothering anyone and from reproducing.

Hope this helps you with any problem you may have with these little, flying creatures.

Happy growing everyone!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Dracaena Marginata Plant Care

Plant Care for Dracaena Marginata

Potted Dracaena Marginata Plant

My last post was about the Mother-In-Law Tongue plant, the most searched and researched indoor plant and its care, at least on my website.

This post is about Dracaena marginata, the second most searched for indoor plant. The dracaena marginata is sometimes called Dragon Tree. We just call her Marginata or Marg... 

Marginata is my favorite Dracaena, I just love the thinner, long, delicate and arching leaves of the marginata.

If your Marginata has been growing in really good light in a nursery, the leaves may be thicker and stiff. As it grows in new foliage acclimated to the lower light in your home (or office), the leaves will thin and become more graceful and arching. That is the way I like them best!

Dracaenas in general are really easy to care for once you get them settled in and learn how to water them properly. Many of the plants that we use in our interior landscapes are dracaena varieties. They adapt well to the lower light available in many business offices. 

It might interest you to know, if you don't already, that the plant sold as "Lucky Bamboo" is not bamboo at all, but a dracaena! I guess Lucky Bamboo just sounds better than Lucky Dracaena??!!

Anyway, one question I often get about Marginata is how to prune them. That is very easy as you can just cut back the stalk, or cane, at any point above the soil level and a healthy Marginata growing in sufficient light will produce new heads from just below where you cut the cane. Not immediately, of course, you will have to wait a little while. :)


Saturday, February 20, 2016

Mother-In-Law Tongue Plant Care

Plant Care for Mother-In-Law Tongue

Mother-In-Laws Tongue Plant

The most searched for plant care information on my indoor plant care website is for the Sansevieria plant. You may know it as Mother-in-Law Tongue or Snake Plant as those are common names for sansevieria trifasciata.

The Mother-In-Law Tongue is one of the easiest indoor plants to care for and is quite forgiving if you forget to water it every once in a while.

As with any indoor, potted plant, providing your plant with bright light and proper watering is going to reward you with the best growth. Light is essential for plant growth so always provide the best light you have available for your houseplants.

Although you can place Mother-In-Law Tongue in low light, you are going to have a plant that becomes thin, leggy and weak over time.

One important thing to note when caring for your Mother-In-Law Tongue and other houseplants is that the light your plant receives will be a major factor in the watering of your indoor plant.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Giving (and Receiving) Plants for the Holiday Season

Christmas Cactus Plant

Christmas Cactus - Zygocactus truncatus

The Christmas Cactus is a beautiful, flowering type of forest cactus. In their natural environment, a forest cactus will attach itself to trees in wooded areas and jungles. So it is not too surprising that they are so different looking from their typically spine-covered desert cousins.

The Christmas Cactus is one of many popular plants to give or receive during the winter holiday season. If you know someone who loves plants, you might like to give them a beautiful Christmas Cactus for the holidays.

This beautiful plant is usually in full bloom when received as a gift. Zygocactus truncatus or Schlumbergera truncata are botanical names for the Christmas Cactus. It is called Christmas Cactus because it blooms between late November and mid-January.

When in full bloom, this is one beautiful plant. Flowers may be white, red, pink or purple.

This plant (similar to its close relative the Easter Cactus) has branching, arched stems made of leaf-like, flat segments. Each segment is about 1 1/2 to 2 inches long. The segments of the Christmas Cactus have a distinct, toothed edge, while the Easter Cactus has more of a scalloped edge. And, of course, the Easter Cactus blooms in April or May.

Although we don't typically use this plant as an interior landscape plant, we do often give them as gift plants to our wonderful, interior landscape customers during the holiday season.

If you receive one of these flowering, forest cacti as a gift, you may have a hard time inducing it to flower again. If you want your Christmas Cactus to flower again in the following year, you will have to follow a few rules. Provide a dry and cool resting period, do not move once buds appear and allow to harden outdoors during the summer. You will need to keep your plant in good light, also.

Here is the Christmas Cactus Schedule:

  • Mid November - mid January, Flowering Period. Water normally, minimum temperature of 55 degrees F.
  • Late January - March, Resting Period. Water infrequently, keep in cool temperatures, 55 degrees F.
  • April - May. Maintain regular watering schedule. Water thoroughly when potting media begins to dry out.
  • June - mid September, Hardening-Off Period. Place outdoors in a shady spot, protect from slugs, snails, earwigs, etc.
  • Mid-September - mid-November, Pre-Flowering Period. Move to a well lit location where you can keep it thru the flowering period. Keep potting media on the dry side and temperatures to the cool side until flower buds form. Then increase water and temperatures.
Now you are back to the first step, mid-November through mid-January, continue to water normally and maintain at a minimum temperature of 55 degrees F. Then start it all over again!!

Have a happy holiday season and give beautiful flowering plants to the plant lovers in your life. Thanks for reading this and I hope you have beautiful blooms on your Christmas Cactus next holiday season!

If you need any help with your indoor house plants, whether it is an indoor plant identification or house plant care assistance, come visit at ...Happy Holidays!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

House Plant Care - How to Have Great Looking Plants

Watering for Healthy Plants

Watering Rules, House Plant Care

Working in the interior landscape business for more than 20 years has gotten me lots of questions about how to care for indoor potted plants.

Customers ask about their own plants at home...why does my plant have yellow leaves... what causes brown leaf come the new growth on my plant is dying...I water my plant everyday but it still isn't doing much should I water my house plant?

It can be hard to diagnose every indoor plant problem when you do not have access to the plant itself. So I generally find myself asking them questions about how they care for their plants. Most often, the problems are solved by changing watering habits. 

In almost every instance, changing the way they look at watering their indoor plants gives them positve results with their houseplants.

I care for indoor plants as my job and I know that there are not many plants that I care for that always use the same amount of water or need watering on a rigid schedule. Many different things influence a plants water use.

Customers turn off the lights, leave the lights on, turn off the air conditioning, turn up the heat, close the blinds, open the blinds. All of these things, and many other things, influence the way you need to water an indoor plant.

There are many things to consider when you are watering your house plants. Read more about watering properly for good results with your indoor house plants... 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

My Dracaena Plant is Too Tall, Now What?

Dracaena Warneckii Plant

Plant Questions and Answers

Here is a recent email question from Grace, someone looking for some help with her houseplant...

"I got a plant for my moms funeral and now it's very tall and don't know if and how to split it. Any help? I attached a picture of it. Card that came with it says it's a dracaena but couldn't find any helpful information on line."

Hi Grace,

Thanks for the picture. Your plant is a dracaena Warneckii. You can cut back the stem any place that you want to and it should regrow from that point.

Is that what you wanted to know? Your plant looks nice and healthy! Good job.
Let me know if you have any other questions or if I did not tell you what you wanted to know....

Hi again Grace,

Forgot to mention that you can root the piece you cut off in moist sand, then you can plant into its own pot when the roots get a few inches long.
You should remove the leaves (from the cut piece) when you are rooting. The leaves often die anyway, so help your dracaena grow some new roots faster and remove them.
You can cut the dracaena cane into smaller pieces and root them all.  Three to four inches long is a good size. Using a rooting hormone is also helpful
good luck with your plants and thanks for visiting

Sunday, August 16, 2015

One Very Popular Houseplant-Dracaena marginata

Dracaena marginata plant

Dracaena Marginata Plant Care

The marginata plant is one of the most popular houseplants. It is one of my favorites and I get so many emails asking questions about Dracaena marginata that I have to think it is one of everyones favorite indoor potted plants.

One of the care questions that I get most often about this beautiful, indoor plant is about pruning. Is it alright to cut it back if it is too tall? Where should I cut the stem?

The answer to the question is yes, you can cut back the stems or canes of dracaena marginata. You should cut the stem just above the height that you want new growth to start. It is best to do this in the spring time when most plants do much of their growing.

If you look closely at the stem you will see rings that encircle the stem. This is where the leaf nodes are and where your dracaena marginata will push out some new growth. You will most likely get a few new "heads" starting before you know it.

It is best to do this before your plant gets so tall that it needs support to stay upright. Also, it may be a shock to you when you see your plant cut back so far. It also encourages healthy new growth and keeps your plant fuller and healthier looking. 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Best Indoor Houseplant For Beginners

Snake Plant - Houseplant

As an interior landscape technician, I get a lot of questions from people during the work day. Some want to know why their plant is not doing well. Others ask what the little bugs on their plant are and how to get rid of them. Some people want to know the best way to prune or propagate their houseplants.

Another common houseplant question is: What is the best houseplant to get if I have never had an indoor plant before?

That is one of the easiest questions to answer as it doesn't require finding out alot of other information. The answer to this question is undoubtably...The Snake Plant!

Snake plants are great indoor plants as they will tolerate an owner that doesn't pay them much attention. They will live in lower light but they will become thin and leggy over time if the light is not sufficient.

However, if you are one of those people that likes to water their plants everyday, you should not get a Snake plant! There are not many indoor plants that will last long with everyday watering!

Snake plants are known as Sansevieria. The long tall foliage looks something like a snake and that is no doubt where the name Snake plants come from. Another name is Mother-In-Law Tongue. Someone will have to explain that one to me.

Anyway, if you are looking for a houseplant that does not need a lot of attention, try a Snake plant. Read about Snake Plant care, Sansevieria houseplants...

Thursday, June 4, 2015

House Plants for Beginners - This Plant is Not For You

My New Variegated English Ivy 

Thinking About Getting a New House Plant?

If you are thinking about getting a new house plant, you should consider carefully before you purchase a new one, especially if you are a little new to house plant care.

Pictured here is one of my new plants, a Hedera helix or English Ivy.  Looks nice and healthy, right? 

For the most part, it is. However, before I bought it I made sure to check for spider mites.
I found what I expected to find...Spider mites!

I have been caring for indoor plants for over 20 years and I can't remember any time that I had a new English Ivy that did NOT have spider mites.

English Ivy usually come from the growers looking pretty clean and spider mites are hard to detect at first unless you know what to look for (and where to look). But they reproduce rapidly, especially in hot, dry places and can do quite a lot of damage to your house plants. Before you know it your English Ivy will be looking pretty bad and you will wonder what you did wrong.

List of best indoor plants for just about everyone...

As soon as I got this one home, I put it in my bathtub, turned on the shower and used the hand-held sprayer to give it a good shower, especially on the undersides of the leaves.

A few days later those pesky little bugs were showing up again. (I knew they would) Truthfully, I intended to plant this plant in a clay container and put it out on my patio and leave it there. I got it for the photo with the intention to use it as an outdoor container plant.

My outdoor English Ivy always does so well, it needs minimal care and spider mites never seem to trouble it.

I like trouble free indoor plants and, although some may disagree with me, English Ivy is not my idea of a trouble free indoor plant.

English Ivy can be great indoor plants if you can get one that has no spider mites. Problem is, that is uncommon (but not impossible).

Anyway, this is just some information for people new to indoor plants, to let you know you may want to avoid English Ivy.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

People Are Funny - And They Love Houseplants

House Plants at Gate C7 - Airport Adventures

Sure a lot of people that really like to ‪#‎grow‬ ‪#‎houseplants‬

I was at the local international airport on Friday, taking care of plants and replacing some #Pothos with Hoyas. The new plants were so full that I had to drastically prune them to fit in their new containers. 
I left all of the cuttings on my cart on the concourse and when I came back there was a woman stuffing all of the ‪#‎Hoya‬ cuttings into one of her pieces of luggage.
I just had to laugh. Nice to know that so many people ‪#‎love‬ #houseplants. 
Hope she made it to her flight on time!