Spring arrived at 7:02 am ET today, Thursday, March 20!3! We say Welcome!
Late Winter / Early Spring is the perfect time to re-pot and shape-up leggy houseplants that have survived the winter indoors. Crabapple LandscapExperts can also advise you on how to care for large display tropicals inside the Sales Office or Residents' Clubhouse.
Pinching, Pruning and Shaping
Many houseplants need regular pinching back to keep them shapely. These include coleus, grape ivy, Swedish ivy, philodendron, arrowhead plant, polka-dot plant and wandering Jew. Houseplants grown as a topiary or on a topiary frame also need frequent pinch training.
Others need regular pruning once a season to maintain their appearance and vigor, keeping them compact, dense and healthy. Lipstick plant, for example, benefits from pruning back a third after flowering while Columnea is pruned in Spring to encourage re-flowering.
Still others like Ficus benjamina, Fittonia and Pilea may need the removal of dead or crossed branches or damaged wood.
Vines such as Pothos produce trailing stems that can become lanky and leggy, with long gaps between the leaves, particularly in conditions of low light. Pinching the growing tips just above a leaf node will encourage the plant to put out new stems and bushier growth.
Grooming is a good idea for all houseplants, and consists of removing yellowing or dead leaves for an improved overall appearance. To encourage even growth, rotate houseplants by a window a quarter turn each week, causing them to adjust to the source of light in the room.
Is Repotting Needed? Indications:
Roots growing out of the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot
Water runs down the sides and out the bottom without soaking into the soil
Top-heavy plants that fall over
Plants are straggly, pale, and have stopped growing
Thick roots circle around inside the pot
Late winter / early spring is the ideal time to replant houseplants, since it is just prior to their spring growth spurt. Water the plant then gently remove it from the pot and lay it on its side. Inspect the roots and soil.
For a larger plant, gently tease the roots apart and repot in a larger pot. Trim off dead or rotting roots at this time.
Place fresh soil in the bottom of the pot in order to keep the root ball at the same level, then place the plant in the pot and settle it, making sure it is centered and upright. Add potting soil around the sides, pressing down to firm the soil. Water in thoroughly.
Same Pot with Root Pruning
To keep the plant the same size, root prune by shaking off excess soil, and then using either utility scissors or a long, serrated bread knife, reduce the root system an inch or so all the way around, up to 25% of the root ball. Clean the pot by scrubbing with a 10% bleach/water solution, rinse, dry, then re pot the plant in the same pot with fresh soil.
For light maintenance, simply top dress by scratching up the surface of the root ball before refreshing the top layer with fresh potting soil, but make sure the top of the root ball remains about ½ inch below the pot rim to accommodate watering.
Repotted plants will need a few weeks to recover from repotting, so water regularly, hold off on fertilizer, and keep the plant in a brightly lit location, but not direct sunlight.
CrabappleLandscapExperts advise commercial and residential managers and HOAs that interior plantscaping:
adds to a feeling of well-being,
reduces stress indoors (and out),
improves air quality by increasing oxygen and humidity and decreasing carbon dioxide dust motes
reduces background noise