Posts Tagged ‘houseplants’

Cymbidium update

November 1, 2009

I took advantage of the mild damp (actually, wet) weather today and stood my cymbidium outdoors. While I have been known to bang on about ‘inducing dormancy’ in houseplants, in practice I think a rest period is best kept as brief as possible – in their country of origin, these things would be more or less permanently in growth.

So, take advantage of any opportunity to keep them ticking over. It’s always good to keep handling your plants anyway (unless you know them to be poisonous), and I noted in picking up the cymbidium that a new growth bud has appeared at the base.

This is not a fledgling pseudobulb but an emerging flower stem, always an exciting discovery. This suggests I should start feeding – but not just yet. Growth won’t (indeed can’t) be rapid until we have passed the shortest day. So come the new year, I can start watering and feeding regularly to build up the developing flowers. I’ll report back on this in January.

Overwintering houseplants/2

October 31, 2009

There was a query on my previous post – do I know of any list of overwintering houseplants?

There may be some confusion here. The houseplants I was referring to are those plants (mainly perennials and shrubs) of tropical and subtropical origin that are adapted to low light levels – and hence are suitable for growing indoors in further north. So that would be nearly all of them – apart from the desert cacti, which need as much light as possible year round.

By all means keep posting queries where anything on this blog is unclear.

Overwintering houseplants

October 24, 2009

Most houseplants come from tropical and subtropical regions – certainly nearer to the equator than we are.

There they enjoy fairly constant light levels throughout the year. Further north, and there’s quite a divergence between winter at one extreme and summer at the other. To make up the shortfall in (our) winter, they need as much light as possible – even if in their natural habitat they may be in shade. In other words, six hours of bright northern winter light = ten hours (or possibly more) of tropical shade. It’s a matter of persuading them they are at home.

Give houseplants such as Sanseviera in full light during the winter months

Give houseplants such as Sanseviera full light during the winter months

Don’t put them right up against a window, however, as delicate leaves can scorch. And keep them on the cool side – you are trying to induce dormancy here (in the tropics they can grow year round). They should perk up noticeably come January, when I’ll return to this topic.

My Ficus

October 6, 2009

Ficus benjamina – the weeping fig – has the reputation of being a virtually indestructible houseplant. I beg to differ – I have killed more than one in my time.

The stems of my Ficus have been grafted together as a lattice

The stems of my Ficus have been grafted together as a lattice

I acquired the specimen shown here, with stems grafted as a lattice, in 2008, and sure enough, by the end of the year it was looking very sad, having shed most of its leaves. It’s been outdoors for most of the summer, and it  eventually – eventually – perked up after weeks of standing around in the rain. Inside now, it has been looking sad again, so I took advantage of today’s mild drizzle and stood it outside the back door. It can come back in tomorrow, which is forecast dry.