In the gar­den — House­plants don’t thrive in­side dur­ing win­ter, ‘they sur­vive’

El Dorado News-Times - - Living - JANET CAR­SON

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 jcar­son@arkansason­line.com.

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