Take your plants on summer vacation

Please don’t let record high gas prices keep you from taking your favorite or beleaguered houseplants on vacation this summer.

Most flowering and leafy houseplants that we enjoy indoors will thrive with three months of fresh air and filtered daylight outside your home. And it’s safe to do so now.

If it snows on the 4th of July and they all freeze, well, I’m sorry!

This is also the perfect time to repot plants whose roots have started to scroll around and around the base of the pot. Most plants benefit from a larger container size than they currently do. Plant roots like it to be a bit snug inside and not have a lot of foreign soil that might interfere with moisture and nutrient uptake.

Above all, choose a location that receives filtered light for about six hours and is easy to monitor. Prefer a more shaded place than a noticeably brighter place.

Without getting into lux, lumen, spectrum and the like (Wikipedia can take you there), know that in almost all cases the light a houseplant receives outdoors is much higher in lumens. than inside your home – even inches from a sunlit window.

Telltale signs of too much light outdoors include bleaching of foliage, brown spots and general malaise.

Trust your judgment here – a healthy, perky plant looks good, healthy and happy to be alive.

The soil of a houseplant now outdoors is likely to dry out a bit more quickly, so it will need to be monitored. Indoors, I water maybe every 7-14 days; outside probably every 7 days. An easy test: one finger probing two inches below the surface. If it comes back with moist soil, no need to water at that time.

And the repotting? If it seems necessary, especially with summer growth, I would do it in mid-August using a houseplant soil mix. If you are growing African Violets, Orchids, or Cacti, specific mixes are readily available. For all others, please use “container soil” or similar. Transplanting then gives the plant about a month to adapt.

If you haven’t fed your houseplants for, say, six months, do so maybe a month after they’ve come out. As with potting soils (above), choose a fertilizer intended for the specific plant.

Midland’s Ed Hutchison writes a weekly column on spring gardening for the Midland Daily News. He can be reached at [email protected]

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