New Year’s Houseplant Touch-Up

Monstera Deliciosa

I have just completed one of the most important tasks I do for my houseplants, a mid-winter touch-up.

Starting in the basement with the slumbering agapanthus, scented geraniums and pelargoniums, I watered, pruned, fertilized with seaweed (Maxicrop), and checked for bugs. An azalea that I have had for over five years looked a little droopy, so I brought it upstairs for a little spa shower therapy (I used the spray nozzle from my kitchen sink to wash it down and rewet the soil). Hopefully that saves the pretty pale purple azalea that my mother gave to me for Valentines Day in 2004.

On the warmer floors, I went room to room, checking and turning all the plants. Folks like Martha Stewart recommend that you turn your plants a quarter turn every week or so, I just can’t do that with a life and work and dog and friends and family to spend time with. So, halfway through the winter, they get flipped around. I also move them to different windows– basement pelargoniums come upstairs to add leaves and (hopefully) flowers to get a jumpstart on the season.

Spent paperwhites go downstairs to let their leaves die in peace. Most people throw paperwhites away, but I am convinced that with patience they will rebloom. Maybe this is just midwestern cheapness (of which, I am guilty as charged), but they are just daffodils aren’t they? Shouldn’t they ultimately rebloom? I’ve been suffering through my first winter of blind paperwhites (when they come up with no flowers, just leaves), maybe I’ll give it a few more years.

Amaryllis are starting to poke their heads out of the bulbs, for which we will be greatful– hopefully they will bloom in time for Valentines day. One trick to deal with Amaryllis Rust that seems so prevalent on store-bought bulbs: leave them alone, then cut off the flowers and use them in a vase. Surprisingly, flowers last longer this way. Then you can spray the bulb with fungicide without ruining the blooms. For years I had planted my amaryllis in the garden, but this seems to encourage rust, so I have kept them in their pots and have lost many fewer bulbs to rust (and worms!).

I also pruned my asparagus fern (OUCH!), which I have grown for almost a decade after seeing an impressive asparagus fern in a lovely b&b on my honeymoon in Bayfield, WI. Every fall, some of the foliage yellows, so I water and prune, and it comes back better than ever.

Of all the houseplants I have, spider plants are second only to orchids with their great numbers– these need to be checked for dead leaves, which build up on plants that have irregular watering.

Orchids, as you have seen in other posts, are one of my favorites– and they had the special treatment of individual spa baths, insect checks and leaf rubdowns. They are doing wonderfully, although I suspect they prefer the eastern facing window rather than the southern window: although we don’t get much sun this time of year, when we do, it is a touch hot for them.

I had a sad loss so far this year, my long suffering lemon tree dropped its last leaf the minute I returned from Christmas vacation. It produced three small lemons this year- which I put in my marmalade, and of course, saved the seeds: there is always next year!

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3 Responses to New Year’s Houseplant Touch-Up

  1. JJ says:

    Dear Gwenny’s Garden,

    This site is great, and I have a request. Could you do a feature on how to start an herb garden for seasonings and such? That would be great. Thanks and keep up the good work!

  2. gwendolyngarden says:

    I would love to do an herb garden post. In the meantime, you may like the container herb garden I discussed here.

  3. jill mcnaughton says:

    love your blog gwen!

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