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Bringing Houseplants Indoors
September 27, 2010

The young turkeys are now close to adult size (Friday's visit), you may have a difficult time picking out mom from youngsters.

One mom is out of the picture, the other mom is in the middle of picture with her head up.

I had to make a little sound for her to look up.

Welcome new readers.

You will find that I am just like many of you.

I enjoy several kinds gardening, (especially when it feeds me).

However, 'Gardening For Wildlife' is passion.

I enjoy most kinds of wildlife, though birds have captivated me for as long as I can recall.

There is something special about birds.

You will learn a bit about me as we go along.

You will find that I have fur kids, a loving wife, a special needs adult daughter, as well as grand kids.

You will see that I can be long winded at times and today's letter is no exception as preparing houseplants for winter takes time.

I have everyday situations and issues as well.

I believe in creation and a Creator, but we are all entitled to our own beliefs.

I will share with you, hopefully teach one or two of you something new that I have learned or have experienced.

If nothing else, I hope to entertain to some degree and prayerfully we can become friends.

Thank You.

Here we are in the first full week of Autumn.

Autumn can be a very lovely time of year, however, it takes me time to adjust from summer activities to fall clean up and hopefully enjoying some festivities the season offers.

The pictures today are from a visit to 'Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park'

These were taken a week ago and I wanted to share some images with you.

Featured Artist is 'Chihuly'

All of he colorful glass and poly-carbon are his works that have been on display all summer.

The hard sculptures are permanent fixtures with the 'American Horse' as the marquee draw.

The gardens also feature botanical gardens as well as a wetland, kids park and much more.

A must place to visit if you ever get to Grand Rapids.

The weather this past week brought cool temps, a couple of days in the upper 80's and a visit or two to Lake Michigan and more chilly water.

We had horizontal rain, heavy winds (with surrounding damage) and some thunder-boomers.

I haven't seen a hummer now for couple of days :-(

A straggler monarch or two still enjoys the nectar my gardens offer.

When the late summer and early fall nights are warm, I get to enjoy a late season orchestra from the insects that are still out and about.

That hasn't happened too often this September as we have not been as warm as much of the country has been.

There is a hint of fall colors in some of the trees around here, like I've said before, I'm never ready, but the colors and activities I enjoy.

Fall brings various festivals and activities to many a small town ans village.

People that know what to do when there is very little to do.

Saturday, I saw my first flock of Sandhill Cranes heading south on Maybe 35 or 40 cranes, and they were actually flying in a crisp V formation.

I was at a family picnic (no pictures), but I hope to see more crane activity over the next couple of weeks.

First time in almost three years that I was stung by a wasp as well.

I'm busy dehydrating herbs and peppers, and canning tomatoes.

Yes, I do that stuff around here.

It is also time to start doing a bit of fall clean up and yard work.

Now, I prefer to leave seed stalks from perennials up a bit longer, because I enjoy watching my feathered friends dine on Nature's bounty.

I do cut back certain plants as needed and sickly looking ones.

When you prune back, anything that is diseased with fungus and other illness, be sure to through this material in the trash, not the compost piles.

There is no guarantee that a compost pile is going to get hot enough to kill off any virus or fungal spores.

Then consider that sickness are spread by the wind and rain.

You may have a worse situation next year.

Healthy looking material, you can compost or leave to decay on garden beds.

Much of this plant material is food for good bacteria and insects.

Insects that attract and feed birds and that is always a good thing.

A couple of you asked about houseplants and bringing them in for the fall and winter.

A couple more have asked about keeping annuals alive.

Today's Marathon Letter is for Houseplants

I know, it's not exactly wildlife gardening, but gardening none the less.

For the less experienced gardener, hopefully you will find this helpful as there is a process in preparing your houseplants for winter.


Bringing Houseplants Indoors Signals the End of Summer.

Although many of you may enjoy the advent of autumn with its cool temperatures, brilliant leaf colors, crystal blue skies, and harvest festivals, I am never completely mentally ready to let the summer go.

For me, nothing signifies the end of summer more than killing frosts and moving my indoor plants from their outdoor summer homes into the house for the winter.

It seems like a redundancy, bringing houseplants indoors, but many of us in temperate zones do summer at least some of our indoor plants outdoors to give them a growth burst or to enhance outdoor living areas.

Taking house plants outside also gives us an opportunity to clean hidden indoor spaces and give our homes a fresh, uncluttered summer look.

It's a nice change.

But as the time to bring houseplants indoors approaches, we need to prepare them and their indoor environment for healthy winter living by lessening the stress that can be caused by the forced migration we impose.

Why Houseplants Brought Indoors for the Winter Are Susceptible to Plant Stress:

While houseplants have been outdoors for the summer, they've acclimated over several months to certain light, humidity, and temperature conditions.

Chances are theyíve received more light and have enjoyed higher humidity than they did indoors.

They have also adapted to temperatures that may have been fluctuating as many as 20 to 30 degrees between day and night and even day to day.

Having been watered and fed frequently, they have enjoyed a healthy growth spurt, even as the days began to shorten and the weather to cool at the end of the summer season.

As you bring houseplants indoors, you will be changing their environment drastically in a very short time.

They will be experiencing much less light and humidity than they did outdoors, as well as a much smaller fluctuation in day and night temperatures, and we will be reducing the water and plant food they had become accustomed to.

In essence, we will be asking them to stop growing and start resting.

Know Your Average First Frost Date:

You need to know the average first frost date for your area so that you can migrate your plants from outdoors to indoors before they are damaged or killed.

Allow plenty of time to rearrange your house, clean the plants and pots, and bring the houseplants indoors before that date arrives.

Despite our best efforts, most houseplants transitioning from the outdoors to the indoors will show, to some degree, signs of stress, that include yellowing, wilting, parching, or dropping leaves.

If the stress is too great, the plants will die.

Here are some tips for making the transition from a summer outdoors to a winter indoors as stress-free as possible.

Inspect the leaves, stems, and soil for plant pests and other insects.

Remove them by hand or use an organic houseplant insecticidal soap safe for humans and pets.

Either I'm getting lazy or wised up over the years.

I have found that, by using a systemic insecticide like Bonide' Systemic Houseplant Insect control or something similar, I save a lot of time and headaches.

Systemic insecticides work up to 8 weeks, but when bringing plants in, I make sure I dose them 2 weeks before and again before they come in for good.

Over the years, I have found some rather fascinating creatures making themselves at home with the houseplants that have summered outdoors.

Among them were spiders, ants, earth worms, and one time wasps.

Start by taking a micro-environment assessment of the temperature fluctuations in your house.

You want to keep plants away from direct cold drafts and hot air vents.

You may have to rearrange furniture or acquire tall plant stands and wall or ceiling plant hangers to keep plants away from hot and cold extremes.

Prepare to mimic the relative light conditions the plants grew in during the summer.

For example, spider plants and Christmas cactus will do better in brighter conditions than those tolerated by low-light lovers like schefflera.

Choose a window with a southern exposure for plants that do well in brighter conditions or a window with a northern exposure for those that can do well at lower light levels.

If you have pets who like plants, and many do, prepare for putting the plants where pets canít get at them.

Not only donít you want your plants damaged by curious paws and mouths, you also donít want your plants to harm your pets.

As a precaution, refresh your knowledge of household plants known to be toxic to pets.

It is always a good thing to keep a pot of cat grass growing for all of your fur kids (my dogs eat it more than the cats do).

Keep the plants in the containers they lived in while outdoors, this is not the time to disturb their roots, which would encourage new growth.

Cut away any dead or damaged leaves and stems, disinfecting your cutting tools, with household bleach or rubbing alcohol followed by a clean water rinse, from one plant to another to avoid infecting a healthy plant.

Refrain from pruning away healthy leaves and stems.

Heavy pruning will encourage new growth, just as repotting.

Unless you have a sun room or greenhouse where you can provide at least 12 hours of light, you want the plants to rest, not to embark on a growth spurt.

Scrub the outside of the pots thoroughly with a steel wool pad or nylon scouring pad dipped in a mild soap and water solution to remove dirt and mold.

Steel wool works well for plain terracotta pots.

For glazed, painted, and plastic pots, stick to a nylon scouring pad to avoid damaging the potís finish.

If a mold infestation is particularly bad on a plain terracotta pot, you can add one part household bleach to ten parts of the mild soap and water solution.

Just make sure you keep the bleach well away from any of the plant tissue.

Take the time with larger-leaved plants, such as schefflera and rubber plants, to wipe each leaf clean, top and bottom, with a cotton swab and plain water.

Summer dust and pollen remaining on the leaves will further diminish the limited indoor light and prevent the plant from absorbing whatever moisture is in the dry indoor air.

Finally, shower each plant thoroughly using a garden hose with a mist or shower attachment.

Get underneath the leaves, too.

Then let the plants and pots air dry outdoors before bringing them in for their winter rest.

I like to bring them in a few hours at a time while working up to full time residence.

In other words, reverse the cycle used in the spring when bring plants outside.

This pretty much is the deal for annuals may may want to attempt to save as well.

Well, it's time to fly for now.

Before I go, here is your positive thought for the week.

You can preach a better sermon with your life than with your lips.

Oliver Goldsmith (1728-1774) Irish Writer

Actions speak louder than words?

I think so.

Saying an doing are two different things.

Anyone can smile and lend a hand to a friend.

The true test is a sincere smile and a lending hand to a stranger.

God Bless.

Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.

1 John 3:18 (New International Version)

"Treat the earth well:

It was not given to you by your parents,

It was loaned to you by your children.

We do not inherit the Earth from our

Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

Ancient Indian Proverb

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson

PS. If you enjoy these letters, please forward them to friends, family and co-workers.

Better yet, have them sign up so they can receive their own letters.

Gardening For Wildlife.

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