If you’re just itching to get your hands in dirt but you can't find your flower beds under the new blanket of fresh snow, here are a few things to get out of the way before spring comes for real! Besides the fun task of cleaning up all the dog messes and applying lime to those lovely pee spots, it is a good time to take care of your indoor plants and get them ready for a burst of spring growth. Even-though it looks like winter the sun is getting hotter and the days longer!
1) check them carefully for spider mites (if you haven’t already!) [or any other infestations that have appeared] - which looks like webbing at the joints of branching. They are especially noticeable on house plants because of our drier air over the winter. If there are a few webs between a few branched stems, use your finger to remove them and clean out the webs. But if there are a lot of webs, the following suggestions are helpful:
-if it’s possible, move the plant to the bathtub/shower and spray the leaves and branches. Cover the dirt in the pot with saran wrap while you’re spraying and elevate the pot a bit so it doesn’t soak in water.
- Use a spider mite pesticide. Either insecticidal soap or a pyrethrum based pesticide will kill them on contact. Misting the plant throughout the winter can help reduce the chance on infestation.
2) If you’re NOT transplanting or re-potting, it is an excellent time to wash the leaves, clean out dead growth, trim back overgrown branches, and to fertilizer. (note: some house plants like to be root bound so make sure you do a quick google when possible for best care instructions for your plant) At The Big Greenhouse we carry a variety of house plant fertilizers from Evolve (organic), to slow release granular or slow release fertilizer spike and water soluble.
3) It’s also a GOOD TIME TO RE-POT plants that have become root bound or you just want them in a different pot. Remember, if you re-pot, choose something only 2-3 inches in diameter larger. (The exception is when you’re re-potting annuals, like baskets, that you will discard when the season is over because they are fast growing and quadruple in size in a short time. They can be re-potted into very large containers.) The plant can become very unstable (especially if it’s has upright growth like a tree) if the pot is too large side to side; however, it can be considerably deeper than it’s old ‘home’ which allows for more moisture drainage from the root area, and less buildup of fertilizer residue.
— Bring plant to the garage or to a table that you have covered with an old shower curtain or newspapers.
— Use gardening gloves if you prefer, have an old household fork or small hand-held gardening fork available as well as a gardening shovel.
— Fill a watering can with water and with transplant fertilizer we like Evolve Transplanting fertilizer (according to instructions on bottle) to pre-moisten new potting mix and to water after transplanting.
— It’s easiest if the plants you are re-potting are on the dry side (less weight). Shovel new potting mix so it’s not too wet just thoroughly moist) into new pot just at the bottom and pack slightly so when the plant goes into the new pot it will be at the same soil level it was in the old pot. Be sure pot has one or more drain holes in bottom - this is a must especially if you tend to water heavily. If you think the drainage hole is too large, you can lay a coffee filter across the hole before adding the moistened soil. The filter will allow water to drain but not soil.
— Pick up plant out of it’s current pot and while holding with one hand, lightly remove compacted soil around roots and if very compacted, loosen roots gently. If it’s too heavy to hold, lay on the floor or a table (covered!) while you work. Use your fork or fingers to loosen the roots. It’s like a ‘root massage’ - just don’t stab or pierce the root as that could introduce bacteria into the root and then possibly damage or kill your plant.
— Place the plant into it’s new pot and settle it firmly, hold it while you add and firmly tamp down new soil all around it. Once it’s settled firmly in the new pot, water it in and set it back in the spot it belongs!
4) Transplanting can shock a plant so it slows down its growth or drops leaves, perfectly normal. If you have difficulty deciding when its time to water a Moisture Meter can help take the guess work out.
5) Continue using the transplanter fertilizer mixed with water for the next month or two through spring and summer to help prevent shock.