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Indoor plants

January 5, 2012
By Stephanie Bethke-DeJaeghere , Marshall Independent

As usual, I managed to step in the pool of water that had run out of the bottom of one of my various Christmas cactus plants that sit in my dining area. I just hate wet socks.

At this time of the year, my houseplants finally get a reprieve from having to sit in the basement until the Christmas tree is taken down. It doesn't seem to hurt them, and in fact, it seems to slow them down just a little bit, but they make up for it when they are brought back upstairs to some sort of regular sunshine.

My houseplants are as varied in nature as what they can be. They probably enjoy the winter months since this is one part of the time when they actually get some attention from myself and look pretty decent. In the summertime, all of my houseplants are kept outside in a shaded garden that is fairly protected from the least of the windy days that we get out on the prairie.

My indoor garden has many different kinds of plants that call for many different ways of keeping them going. It seems that they are picky about how they are treated when they are kept inside versus when they are living free in the great out of doors.

The biggest problem at this time of the year is a small rise in complaints about certain pests on houseplants. If you brought in a real Christmas tree, then you might want to keep an eye out for any little green guys (aphids) or any little white fuzzy guys (scale) that sometimes show up after the Christmas tree has long been gone. There are many great insecticides that are made specifically for houseplants that our area stores can provide for you.

You may find that many are very family friendly but in case, you are just not sure about that toddler or that pussycat getting mixed up with chemicals on a houseplant, there are a few things that you can do.

Treating houseplants can be done without chemicals, if you are able to place the plant into the shower stall and give it a shower with warm water. There are some plants such as African violets that just shrink at the thought of getting their leaves wet while other plants such as the ever popular Hibiscus thinks it is a good deal.

Houseplants that get a shower every now and then not only wash many of the pests away, it is a good way to wash the leave off of the plants and promote more photosynthesis for the plant. If you feel that you need to use something on the plant, just check out the directions first and make sure that you have a product that is right for the plant and the bug. If you are worried about that toddler or that kitty, a lightweight, dry cleaning bag or other clear bag can be used as a mini-greenhouse, tied at the top. This also helps to speed up the rate of which the bugs can not escape and die rather quickly.

I often have many who want to use homemade soap in a bottle to get rid of the pests but if used too much (and who doesn't really want to do those little buggers in real quick?) it can plug up the stomata which can be found, generally, on the underside of the plants leaves. This is where the plant "breathes" and if you can't breath, well, you just don't live very long, even for plants. You can often find and purchase made up insecticidal soap which works very well and doesn't necessarily have this affect on your plants. Again, if you decide to use insecticidal soap, check the label for which plants you can use it on.

Houseplants can give us a great way to keep us occupied in between dreaming of what we are going to plant in this springs garden.

For more information on gardening, you can email me at



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