Sunday, November 6, 2016

Pruning Your Umbrella Plant (Schefflera Arboricola)

How to Prune Your Umbrella - Plant 
Schefflera Arboricola, Umbrella Plant
Schefflera Arboricola

I recently received an email from a visitor to my website asking how to prune her Umbrella Plant. She sent along the picture to the right.

Here is her email and my answer:

I'm just wondering how to prune an umbrella plant. My plant is getting out of control, growing upwards and I can't seem to get it to grow like a bush. I'm afraid to cut it to shape cause I might kill it. I've had this plant for over 10 years and from the picture I sent you can see it's still growing good. I just want to trim it down but I want to do it properly. Thanks!

Hi Julia

When pruning an Arboricola (umbrella plant), cut just above a leaf stem or node. I usually cut the tallest stem back into the center of the plant, leaving some leaf nodes for new growth to start. Doing this every once in awhile keeps the plant fuller and shorter.

You can cut the really tall stem that you have growing past the top of the door to maybe 12 inches or so in height. Cut just above a leaf node.
If you wait too long too prune back, the plant can look kind of bad for a time as you wait for it to grow back out.
Cutting it should not kill it, it will just promote some new growth. It also keeps it from getting so tall that the stems start to fall over.

I usually cut anything that has gotten tall enough or leggy enough that it no longer can stay upright without some type of support.

Turning the entire plant/pot once a month will help to keep it growing evenly on all sides.

Hope this helps, send along any other questions.
Thanks for visiting the website, like our Facebook page if you get a chance!

Laura The Plant Lady

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

House Plant Care - Questions and Answers

House Plants - You Have Questions, I Have Answers, But...

Rhapis Excelsa Palm on My Model Home Account

Hi Plant People, hope you all had a nice October. Hard to believe it is already November 2016.

Just realized that since I started working as an interior landscape technician in 1986 and it is now 2016, I have been taking care of, installing, warehousing, replacing, selling or unloading indoor tropical plants and flowers for just about 30 years.

Most of that was direct, day to day care of different types of tropical plants in many different locations, from the west coast to the east coast.

There has been a break here or there for a year or two but for most of the past 30 years I have been involved in all aspects of the interior landscape industry. That's a lot of plants!

On my website, I offer simple, straight forward advice on caring for your indoor plants. As you can tell from the first few paragraphs, I have had lots of experience to work from.

I do offer to answer questions for readers and they sometimes ask things I could not possibly give a definitive answer to because, with indoor plants, you need to be the person standing right there in front of that plant, taking care of it every week, to be able to figure out what is causing any problems it may be having. That is why I ask people to read the pages about lighting for your plants, indoor plant watering and the importance of a healthy root system before they send a plant care question. Those things are really all you need to know if you started out with a healthy disease and insect free house plant.

HOUSE PLANTS CARE QUESTIONS OR PROBLEMS? You can send an indoor plant question but before you do, please read this information on watering your indoor houseplants, how to help keep your house plant's root system healthy and lighting for your houseplants. These are most important for your house plant's health and this is some of the information I will refer you to when you send an email.

So, please read those pages, and if you still have a question, I will try to answer but please remember, I work during the day taking care of plants so sometimes it takes a little while for me to get out the answers to your emails. So please be as patient as you can and thanks for visiting my website, I do appreciate it and I hope it is helpful to some of you...

Laura The Plant Lady

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.