Houseplant Jobs For Spring

Spring is a time for spring cleaning your house plants. Wipe shiny leaves with a soft cloth, supporting the leaves with your hand. It is also the time for propagating cuttings for many plants. This gives them time to become established by the autumn. Spring is the busiest time of the year, as many plants re-awaken after their winter rest. Here’s how to get house and patio plants off to a good start for the summer.

pruningDeal with increased light

Most plants welcome more light, but a few need protection from it. Remember that light in June is much stronger than in March.

In March, move Pelargoniums and Fuchsias overwintered in a frost-free shed or garage to a warmer, sunnier spot, such as a window sill indoors.

In late May or June, hang net curtains in south-facing windows to protect plants growing there. Cacti alone can take strong sunlight.

Prune and pinch out

Many plants drop their lower leaves in winter, and look leggy. Spring pruning encourages them to put on healthy new growth. Always cut out diseased or weak shoots, and cut all shoots back to just above a branch, leaf, bud or leaf joint.

Make more plants

Spring is the ideal time to propagate house plants, as they are full of new energy and have a good 6 months to get established, before autumn sets in.

  • Remove offsets from Bromeliads and pot up separately.
  • Take cuttings from Fuchsia, Pelargoniums, Busy Lizzies and Tradescantias.
  • Pot up plantlets of Mother-ofThousands, Spider Plant and Piggy-Back Plant.
  • Take leaf cuttings of African Violet, Mother-in-Law’s Tongue and Begonia Rex.
  • Divide large Prayer Plants, Umbrella Plants and Aspidistras into 2 or 3 clumps and pot up separately.
  • Air layer Swiss Cheese Plant, Rubber Plant and Dieffenbachia.
  • Sow seeds of annuals, such as Pot Marigold, Nasturtium and Sweet Alyssum, for patio or window boxes.
  • Pinch out growing tips of Zebrina, Flame Nettle, Aluminium Plant and Tradescantia once growth is underway, to encourage bushy plants.
  • Divide large plants such as Lilies, Prayer Plants, Umbrella Plants and Aspidistras into two or three clumps and pot up separately.
  • Top dress large, established house plants by carefully scraping away the top of the potting mixture and replacing it with fresh.
  • In early spring, daylight becomes longer land stronger. Temperatures, too, rise, though less dramatically in a centrally heated house than outdoors. This seasonal increase in light and heat starts many plants into growth, so you’ll have to ‘change gears’, and start to water and feed more often.
  • Just as you spring clean your house, house plants, too, need a thorough check-up. Depending on the number and types of house plants, this may take an hour or several days. Do a few plants at a time.

Clean and clear up

Dust and grime on leaves look unattractive, and clog up the leaf pores, making it hard for plants to breathe. Keeping a house plant display area clean helps discourage build-ups of pests and diseases.

  • Remove dead, diseased and faded leaves and flowers.
  • Wash the remaining leaves, using lukewarm water and a soft cloth. Dust hairy leaves.
  • Wash saucers and decorative outer plant pots. Rinse thoroughly.

Feeding and watering

Plants starting into growth need more food and water than when resting, but keep one eye on the weather. Some years spring comes much later than others, and plants respond to conditions, not the calendar! New leaves or buds are a sure sign that spring growth has started.

Always increase feeding and watering gradually, before working up to full strength once the plant is growing strongly. In April, start watering plants, such as Cacti and Living Stones, kept bone dry through winter.

  • Newly bought plants have enough food for 6 months stored in the potting mixture.
  • Give newly repotted house plants 4-6 weeks to settle down before regular feeding.
  • Increase humidity and ventilation
  • In warm weather and centrally heated rooms, mist spray regularly.
  • Place plants on a pebble-filled tray or saucer topped up with water, or in an outer pot filled with damp peat.
  • Group house plants together to keep the humidity round them high.
  • Cacti and plants with hairy or waxy leaves dislike high humidity.
  • Plants starting into growth in spring need more water than when resting. Always increase feeding and watering gradually.

Repot and top dress

Before house plants start into growth, check for roots growing through the drainage holes, or forming a dense mat on the surface of the potting mixture. (A pot cracked by the pressure of roots is a sure sign that repotting is called for!) Unless a plant prefers to be pot bound, repot it, using fresh potting mixture, and the same or a slightly larger pot.

Top dress large, established house plants by carefully scraping away the top 2.5cm (1 inches) or su of potting mixture, and replacing it with fresh. Be careful not to damage any surface roots – especially with palms.

  • Don’t get caught out! Buy pots and potting mixture in February or early March – before the spring rush starts.
  • Never repot a plant in bud or flower; wait until flowering is over..
  • If you are changing pot types, remember that compost in a terracotta pot dries out quicker than in a plastic pit.

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