Autumn is traditionally a busy time in the garden, and caring for house andplants involves many of the same tasks: protecting tender plants from low temperatures, planting, taking and tidying up for winter. Autumn’s the time to get your house plants ready for winter. Most plants will need to rest until spring, but a few, such as cyclamen, will be just starting to grow.
Because house andplants come from so many different climates, no one set of rules applies to all of them but this general guide helps you plan your autumn workload.
Water, food and light
Water andactively growing plants generously while the weather is hot, but gradually reduce the amount of water and food as the cool weather sets in. Start drying off tuberous-rooted Begonias, Gloxinias and Hot-Water Plants, once flowering is over. For plants needing high in summer, continue until the temperature drops, then reduce the humidity and ventilation. Increase the amount of light at the same time by moving plants back to south- or west-facing windows. Make sure tender perennials are protected from frost.
Keep clean and tidy
Remove faded or damagedand . Sweep fallen leaves from the patio, and throw out that have finished flowering. If you have a , clear out the plants and give it a good scrub, using a mild disinfectant. Clean and sterilize all empty containers and equipment, too.
- Plant Wallflowers, Winter-Flowering , Forget-Me-Noss, Polyanthus and spring bulbs, such as Tulips, and , in window-boxes, or tubs outdoors.
- Plant dwarf conifers and other evergreen shrubs now and also plant of hardy annuals, such as .
- Pick all tomatoes before the first frost and ripen partly red ones on a sunny windowsill.
- Pick for drying. Hang them upside down in a warm, airy spot and then store in an airtight to stop them re-absorbing moisture.
- When Begonias have finally finished their flowering season, cut back by a third to a half in size to overwinter, and reduce humidity.
Protect from cold
- Before the first frosts, move tender perennials such as Marguerites and Begonias to a cool, sunny spot indoors.
- Before the first frost, bring in house plants that spend the summer outside such as Jasmine, and . Check them first for pests or diseases, and spray if necessary. Lift tubers and corms, dry and cut off the leafy growth, then store in dry boxes.
- Move house plants away from windows – especially single-glazed ones – when frosty nights threaten. Closing the curtains at night prevents warm room air from reaching the plants.
- If you are leaving shrubs, such as Sweet Bay or , outdoors in move them to a sheltered, sunny spot. If hard frost threatens, lag the pot with a layer of straw, sacking, a blanket or polythene. Protect the further with a mulch of peat or mould.
If you have a Rambleron your patio, out old wood after flowering is over. Once leaves fall, prune any deciduous shrubs that have grown too big. In early autumn, take cuttings of Pelargoniums, and . Use non-flowering shoots, 7.5– 10cm (3-4 inches) long. Remove the lower leaves and plant in . Keep barely moist and cool.
Plants for special consideration
Keepthat you buy in autumn well-watered. These include ‘Pot Mums’, Cape Heath, Cinerarias and Calceolarias. Don’t feed them, as their mixture contains enough food for them until they finish flowering, when you can then discard them. Longer-term flowering plants, such as Azalea, also need regular now, but use soft, lime-free water. You could also use distilled water.
Some tropical plants, such as African Violets, the Chenille Plant and Flamingo Flower, need warmth, high humidity and water all year round to mimic their tropical home. Others such asand Goldfish Plant, need less watering from autumn until spring, but still require high humidity and a warm environment.
Instead of bringing Miniaturehouse plants in for winter, put them out! Bury the pot in the soil, or protect with lagging of peat, until next January, when you can then bring it indoors to flower.
up bulbs for forcing
Plant specially prepared Christmas Hyacinths andnow. You can force ordinary Hyacinths, and Tulips, but they will flower later. Using bulb fibre, plant 2.5cm (1 inch) deep, but plant Hyacinths with their tips showing. Keep in a cool, dark place for 2-3 months. Check them regularly and water lightly only when dry. When leafy shoots are 2.5cm (1 inches) high, move them to a cool, light spot, and keep well-watered. Pot up specially prepared Christmas Hippeastrums now, singly in a 10cm (4 inches) pot. Keep them warm, light and steadily moist.
Miniature Rose should be buried, still in its pot, in the garden until January, when it can then be brought in.
If you kept last year’s Cyclamen resting and dry over the summer months, autumn is the time to start it into growth. Carefully shake off the oldmixture, and re-pot in the same container using fresh potting mixture. Bury the tuber to half its depth, water lightly, and bring into a cool, bright room. Water steadily and new leaves should soon appear.