Capitol Hill Garden Club In Washington, D.C., Since 1952

Gardening in the Great Indoors

October 08, 2013 6:30 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
Gardening In The Great Indoors


Featuring: Regina Lanctot

Regina is a plant specialist at Merrifield Garden Center in Fair Oaks, gave a lively presentation October 8 on “Gardening in the Great Indoors.” Starting with the psychological and health benefits of houseplants, which like all plants absorb toxins in the air, she provided many suggestions on how to keep houseplants thriving. Among the highlights:

· Be careful when transporting plants home; even brief periods in the car in freezing winter can kill newly purchased plants, especially orchids but other tropicals as well.

· Houseplants need time to acclimate to your home’s surroundings; gradually introduce plants to new settings. Try to replicate the conditions in which they thrive in their natural habitat. Even cacti can burn if thrust suddenly in a very sunny spot.

· Many houseplants like humidity, especially during the winter when artificial heating creates desert like conditions. Don’t spritz houseplants with water. It’s better to place them in a saucer on pebbles in tray above a small layer of water. Gravel at the bottom of a pot is not helpful for drainage, either (contrary to common perception). A clever way to prevent water accumulating in the potting soil is to place a block of Styrofoam at the bottom of a jardinière and set the pot on top of it. Clear plastic “growers’ pots,” which permit a good look at the plant’s root system and general state of in-soil health, are especially good for this technique of displaying houseplants.

· Plants love an occasional hose-down with water to provide moisture and to eliminate some kinds of insect pests.

· Don’t repot houseplants often; some actually thrive in root-bound conditions. And never report a new houseplant until it’s clearly adapted to your home’s surroundings.

· Indoor plants, like those outdoors, need ventilation, which helps prevent fungus. In still air try a gentle fan.

· A layer of activated charcoal can help prevent root and stem rot.

· Don’t overwater plants, notably succulents. Houseplants love rainwater, free of many compounds present in tap water that can be harmful to plants.

· Don’t over fertilize houseplants, and don’t fertilize at all during their natural “resting periods.” Light-colored deposits on the top layer of houseplant soil can be a sign of fertilizer salt accumulations, which can be treated by running water gently through the plant’s soil in the pot.

· Another sign of overfertilization can be leaf tip discoloration, which can also the result of other difficult-to-diagnose problems.

· Orchids like to be potbound, but when the bark and other aerating planting medium breaks down and gets mushy, it’s time to repot, generally in 2 years.

· Don’t prune more than one-third of a plant’s foliage or its roots at a time.

· Insect pests come in many varieties, some of the common ones being mealybugs (which look like tiny cotton tufts) and scale (look like tiny shields); both are sap suckers (often resulting in “honey dew”undefinedsticky, carbohydrate-rich goop from the insects’ feasting on your plants) and are best treated by plucking them with Q tips and alcohol.

· Two good websites are toptropicals.com and davesgarden.com.

This is but a sampling of Regina’s thorough presentation. For more information, visit Merrifield Garden Center at Fair Oaks and talk to Regina one-on-one. But do call the center at 703-968-9600 to make sure she’s there. Regina’s a busy lady who conducts many workshops, including those for Master Gardener candidates, and was recently asked to organize all Merrifield workshops and related activities.

Many thanks to Roberta Gutman for organizing and presenting tonight's speaker.

Also, 2013–2014 budget approved.

@ 2016 Capitol Hill Garden Club, Inc.

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software