taming the interior jungle

Winter means I only have the inside a/k/a house plants to tend to. It won’t be spring soon enough, but for now it’s all about taming the interior jungle.

Fridays is plant tending day. I start with the big Boston Ferns. They love the dappled shade on the edge of the woods on hooks in the summer, but in the winter they hang from the family room ceiling on hooks the prior homeowner (who was a wonderful gardener in her day, I am told) put up.

The ferns go to the sink where they get watered and misted. I leave them to drain a couple of hours while I tend to the rest of the jungle.

I start with the orchids and small Clivia (offspring from the big Clivia pots.) They are on moisture trays which I periodically add hot tap water to. The orchids each get a couple of ice cubes and today they will get sprayed with foliar feed.

The Clivia along with their mother ship relatives which are in large pots on the floor just get some water. Occasionally I water everything with Irish Organic Fertilizer (you can buy it on Amazon and I use it in my garden and on my house plants and orchids.)

I have two ivy topiaries which I actually made, and they also get watered and misted in the kitchen sink once a week and left to drain before returning to their plant saucers and plant stands. (I have a few vintage plant stands from the Smithfield Barn that I use for indoor plants to save the furniture surfaces.)

I have two citrus trees. One is a grapefruit tree I grew from seed. It has never bloomed or grown fruit but as it has matured it has grown thorns. My other citrus is a small Meyer Lemon. That has born full-sized fruit once and then almost died. It’s now thriving in a new pot and I hope for blossoms soon. The citrus trees are planted with soil specifically for citrus trees and it drains well. I tend to let them dry out before watering again. It’s a balance, but when I overwater they drop leaves.

I did buy a moisture meter which does help keep my plants watered properly. But some plants just defy all logic. Like our giant Mandevilla. We inherited it from the prior homeowner so it is well established and now in a rather large pot. It has a trellis in the pot for the vines but the pot is so heavy it is on a saucer on wheels. At this point every winter it sheds leaves. Constantly. It makes a real mess. Then it looks like it is half dead, but then spring rolls around and new leave start to sprout. But right now it is in the middle of its ugly season where I look at it and swear I won’t go through this again….until summer when the marvelous hot pink flowers appear.

I also have Christmas Cactus. It thrives on benign neglect. It also prefers a more sandy kind of soil. I toss a handful of ice cubes in the pot on the soil once a week and that’s all. I learned from a co-worker years ago that they literally thrive on being ignored.

My addition to the interior jungle this year other than a rosemary plant I am overwintering is the pretty Amaryllis I received as a gift a while back. It bloomed for Christmas, and I thought it was finished blooming and was starting to grow leaves and much to my delight another flower bud is pushing from the base! So right now I am letting the stem die from the first flower and keeping the soil moist so the next flower can grow.

Like my regular outside garden I have learned through trial and error over the years that the best thing I can do for my houseplants is also keep them on a schedule. As long as I stick to a schedule as far as watering and feeding and general tending they seem to do OK.

As for what else a gardener does in winter, well that’s easy. I go through plant catalogs and gardening magazines as I wait for spring!

Thanks for stopping by.

One thought on “taming the interior jungle

  1. You must be a master gardener! I’m far from that- my houseplants have to survive on a massive dose of neglect. Christmas cactus- I have one that is about a yard in diameter It blooms at Thanksgiving, Christmas, now and many times in between. I allow flowers to die and drop off, sometimes I take them off, and just water it when I remember. They are cactus and therefore I go on assumption that lack of water is not going to put them in a tail spin. When mine blooms, fully, it is a riot of three different colors (plant is not one, but several, white, red and salmon. What joy.

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