September can be such a transitional time, especially for gardeners. Our garden borders seem to teeter on the edge of a climatic cliff. Colors will begin to morph from deep green foliage to mellow butter yellow and fiery scarlet. Branching forms reappear as deciduous trees and shrubs shed their leafy garb to expose the structure of bare bones. Sound echoes with the voices of migratory birds mass on the telephone wires to chat and plan travel routes. Anyone looking forward to windy and slightly crisp fall days when you can walk through the woods and watch leaves dance and listen to acorns beat out a rhythm as they fall to the ground? I know that I am!
We’ve had a couple of chilly nights under our belts, with the night temps in the mid 50s. It won’t be long before we’re experiencing lows in the 40s. So it’s time to make a plan for any houseplants that have spent the summer outdoors. You can start by checking them for insects and disease. Treat appropriately with systemic fungicides and insecticidal soap before bringing them back into the house. Infestations can move quickly from infected plants to healthy ones. And pay attention to where you are putting those plants in your house when you bring them back inside. High light plants like Ficus, Crotons and Hibiscus will need to be sited near your sunniest windows and out of cold drafts to help mitigate leaf drop. You will see some though as your plants adjust to the lower light. Don’t be alarmed! Spots near heating ducts should also be avoided.
If your houseplants grew a lot during the summer, you should prune them back to a more manageable size. Keep in mind though, when you reduce the size of a plant’s top growth significantly, you should also reduce the frequency of watering. Over-watering is the most common killer of houseplants, so water only when your plants need it. As the days shorten and the temperatures cool, houseplants will be going into semi-dormancy and growth will slow or stop until spring. So check the soil for the first few indoor weeks. You’ll soon be able to establish an indoor watering schedule.
Gardening with cacti and succulents is still a hot trend. As you transition yours to an indoor environment, it becomes crucial that you find the correct watering schedule. Small plants and dish gardens need to dry almost completely between watering and the large barrel-type cactus might not need much watering until spring. And be sure to keep them in places with the highest light, but cooler temperatures.
We’re also seeing competitive plant collecting as an up and coming trend. Many of you gardeners, especially the younger ones, got up close and personal with their houseplants in 2020 and 2021. And growers responded with exciting new cultivars of old favs. From the amazingly varied textures of Peperomia to the beautifully mottled and colorful Pothos, You’re sure to find something that you can’t live without! On a recent stroll around the Greenery Department’s benches, I was charmed by the deep inky green of Raven ZZ Plant, the unusual leaf shape and variegation of Variegated Triangle Fig and the ruffled foliage and snaky habit of Dreadlocks Mangrave. Take a look through our selection and let us know what you think.
It’s also time to switch to a bloom boosting fertilizer for your orchids and fertilize them every third time that you water. Water, water, feed is the orchid mantra. Make sure that the potting medium has been freshened and replenished to provide the perfect drainage that your orchids require.