As the temps start to cool and the leaves start to fall outside, we need to start bringing in your houseplants to create a plant oasis to enjoy all winter long.
Once the overnight temps are consistently dropping below 50°F, bring your houseplants indoors to avoid damage and stress to your plant. If you have flowering tropical plants, there is another method explained below that you can use to if you want to have them go dormant.
Before they go inside…or at least before they’re near other plants.
Step 1: Treat for pests. The outdoors is full of insects that also want to enjoy our plants. Before you bring them in, you can spray you plants lightly with a hose or inside shower to knock off any insects or dirt. Be careful to not blast them with high pressure as to not damage foliage. Next, you can spray with an organic insecticidal soap, Eight, or any insecticide spray safe for your houseplants if you notice pests.
You can also use a Bonide systemic houseplant insect control that you sprinkle onto the soil and watered in and will treat the plant up to two months against plant feeding insects. Ideally, you treat for pests at least a week before bringing in your plants to avoid introducing insects into your home or other houseplants.
Another method if you are worried about bug eggs in the soil is to repot your plants. You can knock off all the soil and rinse off all old dirt from plants and pot. Repot in new potting soil. This is an easy method if you need to put your plants in bigger pots or split any plants that have grown too large for your space.
See info below on houseplant insects.
Step 2: You can prune back houseplants that had extensive growth if they don’t fit your space. When you prune, cut right after a leaf node, so you keep the node on. This is where new growth will start.
Step 3: Check the plant toxicity if you have pets in the house that have a tendency to chew on things. Here is a great list of plants and their toxicity levels to make sure you aren’t bringing in a plant that may be harmful to your pets.
Imagine where you want to enjoy your plants and pay attention to their light needs! Get creative if you are finding that you don’t have enough shelf or floor space, if you need to keep the plant away from pets, or children. Try training your pothos to crawl up your wall with a pole or trellis or hang your ferns in your bathroom since they love humidity. Make sure that wherever you put them, you are paying attention to their light needs and avoid drafty areas.
It’s normal for your houseplants to have a transition period and some leaves may yellow and drop. Give them artificial sunlight with grow lamps if you find your plants are struggling due to lack of light.
Over-winter flowering tropicals:
Tropicals, like Bougainvillea, Hibiscus and Jasmine will need to go dormant in the winter if you don’t have a very bright spot to put it or it’s too large. Put them in a room that is between 40-50°F with a little sunlight and only water enough so the soil doesn’t get completely dry. No feeding of fertilizer needed until early spring. Flowering vines, like Jasmine, can be cut back 6-12″ above soil line. Tropical Hibiscus should be pruned after completely dormant. Prune a third of the way back, and make sure to keep two to three leaf nodes on the branch for new growth in the spring.
Lastly, have fun with creating your very own plant oasis! This is a year we need more than ever!
INSECTS YOU MAY SEE ON YOUR HOUSEPLANTS:
Please note: If you are worried about any spray treatments damaging a specific plant since some may be more sensitive than others, test the spray on one leaf first and look for signs of damage. Never spray in direct sunlight as that can result in sun scald marks due to the moisture on the leaves.
Signs of infestation: Plant looks covered with snow or leaves have some white spots.
Step 1: Try to wash the Mealybugs off with a steady stream of water. When they have developed their hard outer shell, this may be difficult. Dip cotton balls in alcohol and remove all visible mealybugs. Use cotton balls to clean the leaves and cotton swabs to clean inside small gaps. Step 2: Repeat the treatment as necessary. This is best for light infestations. Mix 1 cup of rubbing alcohol with 1 quart (32oz) of water. Pour the solution in the spray bottle or straight rubbing alcohol for thicker, hardier leaves. Step 3: Spray the whole plant, not only where mealybugs are visible. Spray leaves well on their tops, under leaves and stems. Repeat the treatment once or twice a week until the issue is gone. Alternative sprays for heavy infestation that may work better: Insecticidal Soap Spray, Neem oil or pyrethrins are other sprays that can be used if alcohol wipe isn’t working and often times a quicker way to kill pests.
Signs of infestation: Plant leaf gets a “dusty” look in an area. They can be yellow or red in color. Often found on the underside of leaves. Spider mites are seen more often in the winter inside because they prefer dry and warm environments. Raised humidity, keeping away from heat source or locating plants in higher humidity areas helps in prevention but not guaranteed.
Step 1: First dislodge mites with a steady stream of water outside or in the shower. Dip cotton balls and swabs in alcohol and remove all visible mealybugs. Use balls to clean the leaves and swabs to clean inside the gaps. Step 2: Mix 1 cup of rubbing alcohol with 1 quart (32oz) of water. Pour the solution in the spray bottle. Step 3: Spray the leaves wipe off or use a houseplant insecticidal spray. Some people use Neem Oil that can help but an insecticidal spray works the best and will take less time to get rid of them. Step 4: Treat any plants that are nearby as well since they spread easily or at least rinse off their leaves and spray with alcohol. *For any spray you can test a leaf to make sure it doesn’t damage the leaf and avoid spraying the leaf during the sunniest part of day or if the plant gets direct light. Step 5: Repeat the treatment once or twice a week until the issue is gone.
Signs of infestation: Tiny small black bugs are flying around the soil of your plants. They do not feed on your plants but take advantage of moist soil to lay their eggs within the first couple inches of soil.
Step 1: Change your method of watering. Water your plants by setting them in water and they will take up water from below. Leave the top 2 inches of soil dry. Alternatively, only watering your plants once the soil is dry a couple inches down and try to prolong between watering until reduced signs of adult gnats are seen. Step 2: Use BT- bacillus thuringiensis powder. It’s a natural bacteria that produces proteins that kill insects. Sprinkle BT on the top of soil of your plants. It is safe to use around humans and mammals but avoid ingestion of any product. Step 3: Control flying adult population with sticky traps placed around your plants.
If you see signs of any other insects on your leaves, most insects can be controlled with above methods of wiping leaves off, use insecticidal spray and systemic insecticide.
If you have any questions about identifying an insect, please email us a picture of your plant if there are signs of insect damage to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alocasia – A Stunning Tropical
Plant people are raving about new hybrids of Alocasia, so we are going to get into more detail about this plant for you!
Alocasia are native to subtropical Asia and Eastern Australia. There are around 92 varieties of Alocasia and many of the plants around the world have been hybridized to create more stunning foliage, patterned stem, or increased hardiness.
This plant has sometimes caused plant enthusiasts frustration, due to their specific needs for light, humidity, and space. Varieties, like the Giant Elephant Ear Alocasia canget to be 15 feet tall. X 8 ft wide so space for them to fit as well as getting their required light can get tricky. There are varieties with sizes that are very manageable. For example, the hybrid Alocasia Amazonia, will get to 2’x3’ H and 1’-2’ W. If you are absolutely loving a tall , giant and wide Alocasia plant, they are a wonderful outdoor plant for the summer, either planted in the ground or in a pot and overwintered inside.
These plants really are tough, but we think because they need to drop leaves or exhibit stunted growth over winter, they are finicky and a bit dramatic. They want to go dormant in the fall/winter if reduced light and humidity. Come spring they usually pop out many more leaves, very quickly, when spring comes around! Do not get too attached to one leaf (we know that’s hard!) because they can drop leaves when there is changing light, rapid growth of new leaves, or other stressors. They will give you many beautiful, fresh leaves in its lifetime to enjoy, so don’t fret if you are given it proper care.
A pest that loves Alocasia is spider mites. When Alocasia are inside with less-than-ideal humid air, spider mites can become more common. Wipe off the leaves with water and spray with Neem oil to help prevent spider mite infestation. That gives you time to regularly check the leaves and treat more aggressively and quarantine them.
Humidity is their best friend. If your plant is inside, place a tray with pebbles under the pot and fill it up to the bottom of your plant pot with water. If you have a bright shade area outside to place your plant in the summer, we recommend trying it out because it provides the humidity it loves.
Water Alocasia when the first few inches of soil are dry. They can handle the drying out of the soil between watering, especially in the winter but make sure to water more often during active growing periods.
During active growth, fertilize once a month while the soil is already moist to avoid burning the roots.
It is important to note that these plants are toxic to cats, dogs, and humans and should be avoided if you have curious animals that will give these a bite.
Give these tough, beautiful plants a try if you want to enjoy an exotic looking specimen!
Shamrock Plants – Luck’o the Irish!
This post is dedicated to the lucky Shamrock Plant! The official plant of St. Patrick’s Day!
Let’s start with its scientific name, Oxalis regnellii. These plants are part of the wood sorrel family, Oxalis, and you can even see other cultivars in the wild that are hardy in MN. For example, Oxalis stricta (Yellow Wood Sorrel) is a native wildflower. They look very similar to Trifolium repensL., the White Clover, which is the true shamrock plant. White Clover is a beneficial pollinator plant and soil nitrogen fixing plant, as well as ornamental interest with its cute blooms.
The ornamental Shamrock Plant you see blooming in late winter in garden centers is known as the false shamrock because of the similarities of the three heart-shaped leaflets of clover, it’s tiny colorful blooms, and it being a perfect plant for St. Patrick’s Day!
Oxalis typically grow to around 6″ tall and can grow quickly. The leaves will open and close according to the light throughout the day, called nyctinastic movement. The leaf colors vary between cultivars and typically the burgundy and green varieties are seen in garden centers.
Another plant you will see often is Oxalis tetraphylla, the Iron Cross (Good Luck Plant). These plants have four leaflets, that are green with a dark purple blotch at the center. When you can’t find a four-leaf clover in the wild, just get yourself a whole plant with four leaflets!
How to Grow Oxalis
The Oxalis plant grows from rhizomes ( like a bulb ) in the soil. A big difference between these and other houseplants is that it can go dormant in the summer. Other ways that may promote dormancy is if the soil is dried out too many times, the inside temperature gets too cold, or it doesn’t receive enough sunlight. We will cover dormant care after the basic care of oxalis.
After you pick out your Shamrock Plant and bring it home, put it in bright indirect light. It can take full bright light during the winter months in the morning. The bright light will promote more blooms. Speaking of blooms, these plants are known to bloom on and off all winter and one of the easiest plants to bloom! Too dark and your plant may not bloom. It may also go into dormancy.
The soil of your plant should be lightly moist at all times. You can let the top of the soil dry before watering. Frequency will depend on the humidity of your home, size of the plant, and container it’s in. If you let it go completely dry multiple times it may signal to the plant that it needs to go into dormancy. If you water it again after it goes completely dry and the foliage keeps dying back, let it go into dormancy to avoid rotting the rhizomes.
As stated above, your plant may go into dormancy and is likely at some point during its life. If the rhizomes are not soft and squishy, an indication of over-watering, your plant is just taking a rest. Dormancy can last a few weeks to a few months depending on the environment and variety.
Clean up the dried up foliage and stop watering and put the pot in a cool dark place. The plant will naturally want to come out of dormancy when it’s ready. If it’s been dormant all summer or for a few months, you can bring it out to the light, give it a little water and it should promote new growth! Some people have been successful by letting it go dormant only a few weeks and then bringing it back out to the bright light.
Be sure the soil doesn’t get soggy before the foliage starts popping out because it could rot the rhizomes. You should start seeing new foliage in no time with the sunlight and light watering!
Now that you know more about the Shamrock Plant we hope you give it a try! It’s a fun plant to gift for a little luck during the late winter and for St. Patrick’s Day!
Find the after blooming care instructions on he bottom of this post.
Select firm bulbs – the biggest you can find. The larger the bulb, the more blooms it can have. Use any pot, ideally at least 6″ deep, with drainage and about 1 to 2 inches wider than the bulb. Try a larger container with several amaryllis. Plant bulbs an inch apart, if planting more than one.
Plant or restart your bulb 8-10 weeks in advance of when you want it to bloom. If you want blooms during Christmas and New Year, plant your bulb at the beginning of November.
Fill the pot 1/2 full with all-purpose well draining potting soil. Set the bulb on top of soil and then fill the pot with soil so the 1/3 to 1/2 of the bulb is exposed. The soil can be topped with the moss, rocks, or other decorations.
Water well to settle the soil then water sparingly until active growth is visible. Around one fourth cup of water a week is usually adequate. You don’t want the soil to get bone dry but avoid it being soggy.
Place the pot in a warm sunny (indirect bright light is best) spot and you’ll start to see it growing its flower stalk soon. If the bloom stalk is leaning towards the light, rotate your pot one fourth turn every week. You’ll have blooms in about two months.
You can then move the pot wherever you’d like indoors to enjoy after they are in bloom.
After Blooming Care:
Once the blooms are done, Amaryllis will grow long leaves. Keep your plant in direct to indirect bright light and fertilize about once a month if there is active growth. Once the temps are 50F or above outdoors, acclimate your plant outside to the bright sun. Keep your plant outside all summer until the temps drop again. This is the best way to get blooms next year since they need to store a lot of energy for blooms the next winter.
Fertilize your plant every other week and water when the top couple inches of soil is dry.
In the fall, once the temps drop to around 50F bring your plant into a dark cool area and stop watering to induce dormancy.
Once the leaves yellow and die, cut them off about an inch above the bulb.
Leave your plant in a cool dark place for 2-3 months.
Once you start to see a bloom bud coming, take out of dark area and water your pot. Placing your pot in a sink filled with water for about 10 mins is the best way to get water around the roots of the bulb when you are initially taking it out of dormancy.
Follow the above care instructions starting at #5.
As you can see, Amaryllis bulb planting is super easy and is well worth the effort to have the colorful blooms during the cold winter months.
Originally red, poinsettias are available in a huge variety of sizes and colors.
The best tips for keeping poinsettias in good shape are: keep them out of drafts, allow them to dry slightly between watering, and be sure to empty excess water from the bottom tray or cover provided when you purchased it. Here is Minnesota Gardener’s guide to caring for Poinsettias during the Holiday and year-round!
In season, purchase these beautiful plants in our store or on our floral website.
It’s the bracts of the plant, or modified leaves, that provide most of the color to poinsettias. The flower itself does provide a bright spot of color, see it? The yellow flowers are located in the center of each colorful bract.
Easy Care Houseplants
Connecting with nature is important especially since it’s easy to be disconnected from it these days. Houseplants in the home or office have proven to improve mental health and keep that connection with nature.
We get that not everyone can be a perfect plant parent and take care of ALL varieties of houseplants. This gallery of houseplants are ones that can handle a more “hands off” approach. Although these are easy plants to take care of, they still do have specific light, water, and nutritional needs. Most of these have similar needs but please research and ask about their individual care. We are happy to help!
*Note: All of these houseplants have different variations so the images are just a representation. For example, Aglaonema can have pale pinks or orange in the leaf or the Sansevieria varieties can have different leaf shapes!
Succulents and Cactus
Winter Houseplant Basics
It can be a tough time for our plant babies due to the cold, dryness indoors, and lack of sunlight but it doesn’t take much to keep your plants healthy if you know what they are needing at this time. Winter houseplant basic care in the winter is simple and the rules below should help you take care of your houseplants! Remember houseplants are usually a form of tropical plant and we want to mimic that environment, within reason of course.
Houseplants keep our connection with nature, provide health benefits, and add beautiful color to our rooms. Let’s go over a few things to prevent complete loss and provide optimal houseplant care in the winter.
1.Big no-no! Taking the plant outside with no protection.
Houseplants are available all year-roundso we may not think about what the cold weather can do to the plants if they are exposed to the extreme temperature differences. When it is below 50 degrees, as the winters are in MN, plants do not like to be exposed to the cold. Think of plants like us. We can’t go outside without a protective layer in freezing temps. When buying a houseplant, make sure it gets wrapped up in plastic or paper before you leave the store and do not keep in the car without heat for long.
2.Add humidity around with trays with pebbles and water when humidity is low.
With the heaters going in the house, this can drop humidity levels drastically. If you don’t want to buy a humidifier for the rooms that you or your plant are in (humidity is good for us too!) , this is a good method to increase humidity around our houseplants. Fill a tray underneath your plant with pebbles. Make sure your plant is never sitting in the water so it still needs a smaller saucer underneath the actual pot. When the water evaporates, the humidity is elevated around the plant. Keep the tray filled with water. This also helps prevent spider mites since they love dry plants! 50-60 percent relative humidity is a good level for both people and plants. Some thin leafed plants may need up to 70 percent. Even succulents/cactus don’t mind humidity at 40 percent or more!
3. Make sure the warm air isn’t blowing directly onto the plants.
Along with humidity you must pay attention to temperature. Quick fluctuations of cold and heat can damage the foliage of a plant and dry it out too quickly. Buy a duct cover to direct airflow or move the plant away from the heating vent.
4. Make sure the leaves aren’t touching the windows.
The leaves touching the window are probably going to be damaged by the cold. You can put a barrier between them and the window if possible. Cardboard or some other form of protection if you don’t mind the obstructed view if you absolutely need the plants that close to a window.
5. Do not re-pot your plant into a larger pot in the winter.
Your houseplant is probably not actively growing and will do better up-potted in the spring or before November. If you do need to pot up, just pot 1-1/2 inches up and make sure you are paying very close attention to the water level in the soil! We don’t want to drown them. Pay attention to plants potting needs also. For example, Jade plant likes to be snug in its pot.
6. Hold off fertilizing your houseplants until March.
If a plant is over-fertilized in the winter it can create weak growth. Think of your plant as on a diet and ramp up the feedings around spring time.
7. Reduce watering frequency.
Too much watering is a common mistake people make with their houseplants. It really all depends on the environment in your home but before you water always check to see if the soil is dry before watering. If it’s damp, hold off. Succulents, cactus, sanseveria, zz plants, rubber plants, and pothos, are examples of houseplants that you can let the soil go completely dry before watering. Some plants, like prayer plants, ferns, and spider plants can be watered when the first inch of soil is dry yet still a bit damp deeper in the soil. Research your individual plant needs to find out their preferred watering schedule! You will get the hang of it quickly for each plant.
Don’t give up all hope if some houseplants don’t survive. Houseplant care shouldn’t be stressful! You just may need to try a different plant for your home! To keep our houseplants happy we do have to pay attention to what certain varieties of plants prefer so if you have any questions please feel free to call or email us with questions! Pictures help us diagnose issues also.
These Holiday houseplants are great for a fresh finishing touch to your decorations or great to give as a gift! With some care these houseplants can live all year-long, year-after-year.
When you see Poinsettias, you think Christmas! The bright colored foliage of the Poinsettia instantly adds the joy of the Holiday season into your home or office! Read more about Poinsettias here!
2. Holiday Cactus
These Holiday cactus are long lasting, and easy to care for plants that bloom beautiful light pink, bright pink, deep red, or white. Some varieties bloom around Thanksgiving, some later near Christmas time!
3. Norfolk Pine
These “little Christmas trees” are great au natural or add small lights and decorations. These will last you for years with care and many more Holiday seasons!
These houseplants have distinctive patterned foliage and adorable little heart-shaped flowers that definitely bring joy to any room.
Amaryllis bulbs are also an easy care plant that blooms during the Holidays that you can keep blooming year after year and have them outside in the summer!
With any of these Holiday houseplants, you can dress them up a bit with a ribbon (we have a lot of different styles!) or decorations that fit in with the Holiday decorations in your home!