Gardening: Overcast days good time to check the condition of house plants

Judy Sharpe

Judy Sharpe

DON'T let a few warm days lull you into a false sense of security, because we have in fact been getting some heavy overnight dews that indicate winter isn't far away.

I notice when the weekends are sunny out come the happy gardeners but when they are overcast, not really cold, just bleak looking, I could close the nursery.

When this happens, I realise gardeners are migrating inside and it is an opportune time for them to check the condition of their house plants, which have been neglected in favour of the lovely weather out in the garden.

Apart from neglect, which isn't always the problem, choice of plant for a certain position may have figured greatly in the plant's demise.

It may have been getting too little light or too much sun - it could have been in a draughty spot or not even getting fresh air which to some plants like Ficus lyrata (Fiddle-leaf fig) is essential to prevent leaf drop.

We look for colour during the cooler months to brighten inside - few plants flower all year around but the homeowner expects a miracle, hoping that beautiful orchid will flower non-stop.

During the autumn/winter period, cyclamen and orchids will provide long-term blooms inside.

House plants don't last forever and will eventually need a spell outside in a sheltered spot for some rest and recreation.

Maintain a regular watering pattern according to the plant's needs.

Repotting shouldn't be done during colder months. If the plant is well maintained with regular watering and fertilising, it can usually survive in a reasonable-sized pot.

I'm often asked about white oil, which does look great on the plant of the moment, Fiddle-leaf fig. Rather than just spraying it on, it is best wiped on so that dust is eliminated.

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