Friday, November 16, 2007

Overwintering Tropical Plants

I hope by now you have brought in your tropical plants that you plan to overwinter. I brought in my hibiscus and jasmine a few weeks ago. I also brought in the tropical plants from my pond. I have them in the screen room in big tubs of water.

In a somewhat interesting side note to tropical plants, especially the pond plants: The hardy lotus and the arrowhead that I have in my pond entered their dormant phases starting in September while my tropical plants showed no effects of the early frost we had in September or the cooler temperatures since then. When I had tropical lilies, they continued to bloom well into October. I have to admit they are awkward to overwinter and do take up a lot of room in the house, but I think they are totally worth it.

Often when you change the environment for any plant, cooler temps for warmer, less humid indoor temps or brighter light conditions for less bright, the plant undergoes some amount of stress. The first reaction to this stress is loss of leaves. After the plant readjusts to its new environment it will put out new leaves that are acclimated to its new surroundings.
One thing that you need to watch for when bringing in plants is insects and/or insect eggs. For hibiscus plants we recommend that you strip the plant of its leaves before bringing it indoors so that you leave any eggs outside. Keep an eye out for aphids, white fly, scale, mealy bug, mites and thrips. These are chewing insects that can be controlled using systemics or insecticidal soaps. Systemic insecticides come in either granular or liquid forms and are applied to the soil. The plant’s roots take up the insecticide and move it up to the stems and leaves. When the insect takes a bite of the leaf it ingests the chemical and dies. Insecticidal soaps are topical and are not harmful to pets. Ann Larson in the greenhouse also recommends using the True Value cleaner that we sell. This is applied topically with a paper towel or rag. After killing the adult insects, any eggs that they laid will hatch in two weeks, so you need to make several applications.

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