In the garden — Houseplants don’t thrive inside during winter, ‘they survive’
Q I just brought my outside plants inside for the winter and wondered how often I should water them and should I fertilize them while they’re inside?
A Houseplants often don’t thrive inside in the winter, they merely survive. Our heated houses lack humidity; light levels are usually lower; and we usually have a static temperature. Water as little as possible to keep your plants living. Overwatering is the leading cause of houseplant problems. Water needs will vary based on temperature, light and pot size, but plants definitely need much less water inside than they do outside. Do not fertilize during the winter. Many plants slow their growth in the shorter, cooler days of fall and winter, so we don’t want to add fertilizer. Don’t be alarmed if you get some yellowing leaves as they acclimate to indoor conditions.
Q My husband wants to cut back my hydrangea because it is blocking the sprinkler and growing over a walkway. It’s the type of hydrangea that doesn’t bloom after pruning. Does it matter when I cut it back?
A I think your best bet would be to move the hydrangea to an area where it won’t interfere with the sidewalk or sprinkler head and can grow to its full potential. While fall is not an ideal time to move hydrangeas, I would get it done as soon as possible and mulch it. Big leaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla), which are the big blue- or pink-flowering hydrangeas, have their flower buds set now. Pruning it back, or winter damage that causes it to die back, will remove the flowers. There are some newer varieties that bloom on new canes as well as older canes, so you might consider planting one of those.
Janet B.Carson is a horticulture specialist for the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service.Write to her at 2301 S.University Ave.,Little Rock,Ark.72204 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.