You may call them house plants or foliage plants --- These are the greenery we use to decorate the home and patio. Possibly you also know them by name as the weeping fig, anthurium, schefflera, pothos, dracaena and dieffenbachia just to mention a few.
Now here is the real question. Have you checked your plants lately? Many are probably filling with yellow leaves and some are dropping already brown foliage. Others have pests and some just need a larger pot.
Winter is tough on these mainly heat loving tropicals offering a meager existence of lower light levels and cooler temperatures. And possibly you have forgotten a watering or skipped a feeding too.
As spring growth begins now is a good time to give foliage plants a fresh start. Here are the six steps needed to regreen your plant collection:
- Grooming: Remove yellowing leaves and faded flowers that have accumulated during the cooler months.
- Repotting: Look for signs of pot bound plants. Many have roots growing from the bottom of the containers.
- Pest control: Check for pests that attack foliage and stems during the cooler months. White mealy bug, green soft scales and tiny mites are just a few of the pest that may make your plant a home.
- Feeding: Resolve to put your plants on a good feeding schedule. With many this is a monthly fertilizer application using a liquid house plant product
- Watering: Check water needs daily. As the weather warms the need for moisture increases. When the surface soil begins to dry to the touch it?s time to water.
- Relocating: Find your plant the best spot for the warmer months ahead. Most like the bright light locations but out of the direct sun near a window or in the shade on a patio.
A lot of plants are likely to need your attention too. Check the Gotta do list to see what in your landscape needs May care.
Lawn care needed
- Lawns have been dry at times; keep up with the waterings as permitted.
- Try to stretch the time between waterings; wait until spots in the lawn start to wilt to water.
- Check for clogged or overgrown sprinkles as a cause for dry spots.
- Chinch bugs are very active; apply an effective control following label instructions.
- Now is a good time to install or repair a lawn as you control the water to prevent rot.
- In areas of prohibited summer feedings your last fertilizer application is at the end of May.
- Iron or a minor nutrient application can help regreen yellowish lawns.
- Apply a lawn fungicide after sodding new lawns to reduce turf decline due to diseases.
- Now is the time to seed new lawns or fill bare spots as seasonal rains help with the watering.
- Take time to have a soil acidity test made and if needed adjust the pH.
- Avoid mowing with dull blades; sharpen frequently.
- Take a new route at each mowing to avoid ruts in the lawn.
- Get to know the drought tolerance of your plantings and water as needed.
- Most trees can go several weeks without watering; shrubs a week or more.
- Maintain a mulch layer over tree and shrub roots to help conserve moisture.
- Established annuals and perennials need twice a week watering.
- Container plantings usually need daily watering by hand or drip irrigation.
- Keep shrubs, ground covers and perennials growing with a late spring feeding.
- Prune azaleas to reduce plant size and thin out older wood before the end of June.
- Camellias only get a light grooming at this time as many have started to form flower buds.
- Prune bougainvillea when they stop blooming and before mid summer.
- Avoid shearing shrubs and perennials; remove out of bounds shoots with hand pruners.
- Replace declining spring flowers with summer survivors.
- Foliage plants make great additions to shady landscape sites.
- Add fresh soil to planters and improve sandy sites with organic matter before planting.
- Prune palms; only remove brown fronds and old flower portions.
- Feed palms with an 8-2-12 or similar slow release palm fertilizer according to label.
- Move orchids to shady landscape spots and feed every other week with a liquid fertilizer.
- Repot orchids and bromeliads overflowing their containers.
- Prune poinsettias; then cut them back 4 inches every time they produce a foot of new growth.
- Add slow release fertilizers to container plantings to reduce the number of feedings needed.
- Have older trees checked prior to hurricane season.
- Look for sap stained bark, hollow areas and twin trunks as signs of tree problems.
- Train young shade trees to have one central leader with evenly spaced branches.
- Correct drainage problems before the rainy season arrives.
- Select plants for pool and patio areas that do not drop messy flowers or foliage.
- Remove limbs affecting traffic along walkways.
- Create shady gardens with low light requiring flowers, shrubs, bulbs and foliage plants.
Vegetable and fruit plantings
- Keep edible plantings moist and maintain a mulch over the root systems.
- Use microsprinklers or soaker hoses to conserve water.
- There is still time for a few of the quick growing warm season crops in early May.
- Good growing conditions are over for tomatoes, peppers and eggplant until August.
- Cherry or grape type tomatoes often continue some fruiting through summer.
- Tropical vegetables like hot damp weather; starts can be found at grocery stores.
- Grow your own sweet potato transplants for the garden in water or pots of soil.
- May is the last month for good herb growth; many decline due to heat and humidity.
- Give citrus, grapes and other fruits a late spring feeding.
- Apply a minor nutrient spray and control psyllids as citrus trees begin new growth.
- Groom fruiting trees and shrubs as needed to maintain the proper shape and size.
- Produce good figs by feeding lightly monthly, keeping the soil moist and using a mulch.
- Purchase seeds now for later plantings; seeds may be removed from stores during summer.
Foliage & Houseplants
- Foliage plants love the outdoors; find a shady spot to help them recover.
- Repot plants that have outgrown their containers.
- Select a container an inch or two larger in diameter and use a good potting soil.
- It?s best to toss tulips and other forced cool climate bulbs; these are difficult to rebloom.
- Forced amaryllis can be grown outdoors in bit larger container or in the ground.
- Plant Easter lilies in the ground after blooming for a repeat performance next year.
- Reshape taller tree form foliage plants and remove declining limbs.
- Divide African violets, bromeliads and orchids.
- Wash pests and dust away with soapy water.
- Feed outdoor foliage plants monthly or use a slow release fertilizer.