Garden Tip 104:


Summer camp is over, and it is time to bring tropical house plants back inside. My collection of plants includes a camellia, olive tree, citrus, bay, rosemary and a wonderful accumulation of begonias, ferns, and tender treasures. All of these have one thing in common this time of year, they have grown huge over the summer months and are in need of a fall pruning.

Cutting back and shaping these plants now allows them to stay in the pots they are in for the winter months and any repotting and upsizing can wait until spring, a more optimum time for repotting. After the trim, I line them up on the driveway and give them a good spraying with all season horticultural oil to hopefully eradicate any mealybug, scale, whitefly or other pests that may have made these plants their summer home. The spray leaves a nice sheen on the foliage and helps reduce foliar transpiration in the dry heat of winter.

Check the label and avoid spraying tender plants such as ferns, clivia and jade (spoken by someone who has had firsthand experience on this subject!) The final step is to give them a half-strength dose of a time-release fertilizer such as osmocote or nutricote.

Tropical plants do not do a whole lot of growing in the winter months but they do best when fertilized lightly once a month. This is something I usually remember to do around March so the application now of a bit of time release fertilizer is a better back up plan for me. Pruned, sprayed, fertilized and placed the winter oasis is good to go.