checking on leaves of a variegated rubber plant before bringing inside

Bring houseplants indoors for winter

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.

Watch our Youtube video &/or read instructions below.

Let the indoor greening begin!

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.

Inside spot:

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.

Mealy Bugs

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.

Spider Mites

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.

Fungus Gnats

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 info@drummersgardencenter.com.

Red and peach poinsettias

Poinsettias

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.

red, pink, spotted, white, peach, burgundy poinsettias

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.

 

 

Mature blue false indigo in the display gardens at Drummers.

Top 10 Perennials 2019

Back in January of this year, the full-time staff went to the Northern Green Conference up in the Twin Cities for continuing education and to see what is new for this year in landscaping and gardening. One of the more popular sit downs was the Top 10 lists of perennials, shrubs, and trees. Since June is Perennial Gardening Month we thought we’d share the Top 10 Perennials of 2019 decided by Mike Heger. Mike has been in the horticultural industry for over 40 yrs and has even written a book on growing perennials in cold climates.  He of course prefaced the list with saying this was a very difficult list to make and was focusing more on natives and pollinators this year. Check out the quick list of his Top Ten Perennials!

Top Ten Perennials 2019

  1. Baptisia Lactea ‘ White False Indigo ‘. Tough, long-lived plant, and tolerates many different soils and light conditions. Great nectar plant. The Blue False Indigo, Baptista ‘ American Goldfinch ‘, and Baptisia Decadence Series are other Baptisia he mentioned.
  2. Calamintha nepeta ‘ Montrose White ‘ (Catmint). Clump forming mint with long bloom time. Great for bees and hummingbirds love it. Considered a zone 5 but could possibly survive our winters in the right spot.
  3. Clematis ‘ Arabella ‘. A rambling ground cover that can have flowers all summer long. Mike said his bloomed 14 weeks! Bees and Hummingbirds enjoy!
  4. Helianthus ‘ Lemon Queen ‘ (Hybrid Sunflower). Blooms late summer and fall and great for all kinds of pollinators. It’s a great tall, background plant. Blooms 2-2.5 months!
  5. Native Liatris ligulistylis ( Meadow Blazing Star ). It blooms from the top down and monarchs and butterflies love it. Tolerant of many soils and high light. Another good native option is Liatris Pycnostachya.
  6. Nepetax faasenii ‘ Purrsian Blue ‘ Catmint. A low maintenance clumping mint with 4-6 mths of color. The ‘Cat’s Pajamas’ is the shorter version with similar qualities. Will see butterflies, moths, bees, and hummingbirds around it!
  7. Origanum ‘ Rosenkuppel ‘ (Ornamental Oregano). Burgundy blooms June-September and even past September at times. It prefers full sun and no wet feet. It is a zone 5 plant so may not survive winters in southern MN.
  8. Salvia nemorosa ‘ Blue Marvel ‘. This perennial sage has violet-blue blooms and the butterflies and bees flock to it. Other forms of Salvia have white, pinks, and purple blooms and there are plenty of varieties to choose from.
  9. Stachys monieri ‘ Hummelo ‘ Boteny. This is the 2019 Perennial of the Year by the Perennial Plant Association. This perennial tolerates many different soil and full sun to light shade.
  10. Vernonia fasiculata ‘ Common Ironweed’. This native perennial can get up to 6′ tall and is a wonderful nectar plant. Painted lady butterflies love them and are a great plant in the back of the garden due to their height. Their blooms are a bright purple and bloom July, August, and September.

 

houseplants, kalanchoe

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.

Plant Toxicity – A list of plants safe for pets.

Among the questions many of us have when we set out to purchase a houseplant or landscape plant is whether or not it will harm pets. Not all pets do it but many will munch on plants. Nobody wants a sick or injured pet or a veterinary bill. Here’s one way to plan the purchase.

Check out the ASPCA’s extensive list of plant toxicity. Their database sorts by cats and dogs. Furthermore, you can select whether or not the plant is toxic or non-toxic.

ASPCA plant toxicity list