Those Bloomin' Holiday Gifts (cont)
By: Charlie Nardozzi
The best fertilizer for most flowering houseplants is a timed-release one that supplies nutrients to the plant every time you water. Complete fertilizers for houseplants work well; apply fertilizer, twice monthly, spring and summer. Once a month, flush the pots for a few minutes until water drains from the holes to remove any built-up fertilizer salts.
Many flowering houseplant species are accustomed to high year-round humidity. Natural humidity levels in spring, summer, and fall are adequate in most regions except desert areas. However, plants require more moisture in winter, when heated indoor air dries out. Humidity levels should be at least 40 percent. Run a humidifier near the plants, or group the plants together in a draft-free room on a 2-inch layer of pebbles in a basin of water. The water should not touch the pots. The closely spaced plants and the evaporating water help keep the humidity high. Misting plants provides only temporary moisture and doesn't significantly alter the overall humidity levels.
If you move plants outdoors in summer, carefully check them for insects such as mealybugs and aphids when you bring them indoors in fall. Control pests with insecticidal soap or horticultural oil.