Spring is coming and your houseplants have awakened from their winter’s nap. Here are some answers to readers’ questions about how to help your plants welcome spring.
Spring is here and houseplants know it! The longer days and warmer temps will awaken them, letting them know the new growing season is here. Now what to do? Here are some answers to readers’ most commonly asked questions:
Q: How will I know when a plant needs to be repotted?
A: Most plants will tell you. For example, Sanseveria (Snake Plant) will simply crack its pot open! Are there roots poking out of the drainage holes? That’s the usual sign it’s time to repot.
Tip them out of their pots and examine the soil. Are there more roots than dirt? This is a sign of a root-bound plant. While some houseplants actually prefer being a little root bound, most appreciate being repotted so they can stretch their roots out.
Use a good quality potting mix. This is also a good time to check the general health of the plant. Make sure the roots are firm and healthy. Snip off any that are brown, black, or mushy.
Q: Is this a good time to divide a plant or take cuttings?
A: Yes! This is the best time of year for it. To divide a plant, gently remove it from its pot and shake the soil off the roots, then gently separate them.
Decide where the plant should be divided and carefully pull apart. Return the original to its pot and pot up the new plant. Water both thoroughly.
Q: Can you recommend a good potting soil?
A: Any of the popular commercial brands, like Miracle Gro or Shultz, will do fine.
Local nurseries and garden centers also offer their own mixes, which are also very good and sometimes better than the commercial brands because they are usually specially formulated for that particular area.
(Avoid the cheap/generic brands as they turn to mud when wet and cement like when dry. Both can kill plants by cutting off the oxygen supply to the roots and promoting root rot due to their poor drainage) Never ever use garden soil from outdoors either as there is a risk of bringing in insects and diseases with it.
Q: I have a large Schefflera that is just too heavy to move but the soil looks terrible. What can I do?
A: For large plants, all that is usually needed is a bit of topdressing. Simply remove the first two or three inches of soil and replace with fresh. This will give the plant the boost it needs.
Q: I have over 100 houseplants and I’ve noticed some of them are dusty and dull. Can you recommend a good leaf shine product?
A: Leaf shine products are best avoided because they tend to block the stomata in the leaves. This leaves the plant literally unable to breathe. Home remedies like milk and mayonnaise are also not recommended as they attract pests.
To keep plants looking their best, simply give them a shower under the faucet or tap, or set them outside on a rainy day. Larger plants or plants with large leaves can be wiped down with a soft, damp cloth. Fuzzy leaved plants like African Violets can be cleaned with a soft bristled brush.
If you have questions about your houseplants, leave us a comment!