Sunday, October 19, 2008

Bring in your Tropical Plants

Last Thursday we had a frost warning, though I don’t think it actually did drop below 32 . Just to be on the safe side I dragged my patio plants inside and now that I’ve done that I’m beginning to wonder what else I’ve brought inside. I had a customer once who left her plants outside until well into fall and when she did bring them inside discovered she also brought in a hibernating frog!
Well, the whole point here is that you never know what else you bring in with your plants and, really, I am thinking of bugs. Before you bring your plants inside you may want to give them a good hosing with water to knock off any insects that may be lurking in the foliage. Check the undersides of the leaves for insect eggs. Ann Larson, who is currently recuperating from ankle surgery, recommends using a mild solution of True Value cleaner (we sell it at Countryside) to remove insect eggs and kill smaller insects. You can also use a systemic insecticide or yellow sticky traps, that work like fly paper. The yellow color of the trap attracts whiteflys, aphids, thrips, leafhoppers and aphids. The systemic takes a few weeks to work its way up the plant and into the leaves so a combination of all of the above is probably best.
It is usually a bit of a shock to the plant to go from a sunny, cool outdoor spot to a now warmer, drier, less sunny inside location. Some plants to not make this transition very well. Keep the plants in as sunny and cool a location as possible and keep them away from the heating vents. You may want to provide additional humidity by putting a pan of water next to the plant. Often, plants react to a drastic change in environment by going into shock and dropping their leaves. Do not just assume that the plant needs water and water it. Check the soil first. If the soil moisture is adequate, just let the plant be. It will begin to set new leaves that will be acclimatized to the new location and should be fine. Remember, in lower light conditions plants do not grow as much so they don’t take up as much water. Over watering will do as much to kill a plant as under watering.

My hibiscus plant has really grown and I am always worried when I either put it outside or bring it in that the change is going to shock it. Hibiscus are pretty tough plants, but they do have a tendency to loose their leaves when brought indoors. It won't kill the plant and if you strip the leaves off the plant before you bring it in, you will leave all those insects outside.

No comments: