Learning to Grow: Refresh houseplants in April
April seems to be the month that stirs gardeners from their long winter hiatus – blue skies, melting snow, seed packets, emerging buds and sunny days. All this can happen on one April day!
Then the next day we seem to slip back into late winter, donning jackets and braving low wind chills. It takes a hardy Midwest gardener to survive this yearly transition.
I tend to wait until the last minute to “wake up” my garden. This year, I shall use my time wisely beginning now, with my houseplants. April is a good time to examine your indoor plants.
Some plants need to be re-potted each year.
If your plant has roots growing through the drainage holes or if the roots are peeking out at the top of the soil, you should consider repotting.
If the soil on the top of the plant looks crusty and has some white residue (salt buildup), you should repot.
It doesn’t take long to repot a plant and the results are pleasing.
• Remove the plant from its current pot and examine the roots. If the roots are growing in a circular pattern, unwind and/or cut them back.
• Place your plant into a larger pot. The new container should be one-half inch larger, in diameter, than the old one.
• Repot at the same depth as before and gently press new soil around the roots leaving room at the top for easy watering.
• Water your newly planted pot.
• Step back and admire your “new” plant!
One easy to grow indoor plant is a Pothos (Epipremnum aureum).
Pothos survives well in low light conditions. I prune mine quite often to keep it bushy and more compact. This houseplant is easy to propagate by placing a cutting into damp soil.
Another favorite indoor plant is Kalanchoe (K. blossfeldiana). This succulent blooms naturally in the spring.
When the bloom fades, cut off the flowers and let the plant rest with less water.
Both of these plants will soon be moved outside and will thrive throughout the summer.
And remember what Hal Borland said, “April is a promise that May is bound to keep.”
• Catherine Harrington is a University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener for Kane County. Call the extension office at 630-584-6166 for information.