GARDEN GUIDE: Before you head out, get indoor plants ready

Written by Jennie Hagen February 17, 2014 07:36 am

Before we put the spring growing season into full gear, this is a good time to take stock of your indoor plants.  

February is the month when you need to begin the addition of fertilizer to all your potted plants, but at half strength only. For cacti and succulents a good recommendation is one quarter strength but make sure you use only fertilizer specifically for these types of plants. Normal houseplant fertilizer contains too much nitrogen for your succulents. Even diluted, the chemistry won’t yield proper succulent growth.

My indoor water plants are beginning to grow. They spend the summers on the deck and are brought inside to an unheated utility room to spend the winter, barrel and all. My pre-winter maintenance lacked in getting them inside before their water solidly froze so it was good to see the new growth.  If you’ve left yours outside and wonder if they are alive, their dormancy will have lasted longer than those brought indoors so don’t worry unless, by the middle of April, they haven’t started to grow.

If at all possible now is also the time to shower your indoor plants with slightly warm water. It removes all the winter build-up of dust, dander and any ash from wood stoves.

Although most of us in our tri-county region have what is considered “hard” water, I have not seen any evidence of spotting on the plants I shower. Some of my indoor plants are simply too large to tote back and forth to the tub but they usually benefit from a “canned air” dusting. If you use canned air, hold the nozzle at least six inches from the plant, as the compressed air can cause freezing of the foliage if held too close.

If you are starting seeds indoors remember they will need bottom heat to properly germinate. Even if you have your seed-starting trays on a sunny window sill, without bottom heat to maintain a constant temperature, your germination rate will still be inconsistent and painfully slow.

Don’t forget the wealth of information that is available for free from the Extension Service website. This is for all types of gardening, farming and orchard growing. Simply go to extension.oregonstate.edu. While there are some publications that have a cost, most of the information on their web site is not only free but timely and informative.

We are fortunate to have so much shared knowledge at our access.  There are also ideas for engaging children in gardening, insect information and tips on canning, freezing or drying food.

Until next time, enjoy planning this year’s best garden ever!