Indoor insect pests occur because indoor conditions are too dry for most tropical plants.
Humidifying your home (by 30 percent or more) will help prevent these pests from returning.
Another method would be to get trays of pebbles and adding water and setting the plants on the pebbles to create a natural humidity.
Below are some gardening tips to schedule throughout January.
Week 1
• When the flowers on Christmas Cactus fade, pinch off the blooms and begin a five-week dormant cycle. Do not touch the plant for five full weeks, meaning no water and no fertilizer. The second week of February, begin bi-weekly feedings of 20-20-20 fertilizer, and a second round of flowers will come after March 15.
• Mulch perennial beds or plants with 3 to 4 inches of mulch to keep plants frozen in place and to prevent them from being heaved out of the soil. Dusty Miller must also be mulched if it is to re-grow in the spring.
Week 2
• Be sure all outdoor potted container plants are watered if needed and have a good layer of hardwood mulch to help protect the root system of the plants.
• Spray all snow shovels and discharge chute and impellers of snow blowers with silicone spray. This will allow the snow to slide off and not become impacted.
Week 3
1. Use calcium chloride or granular urea (46-0-0) instead of salt crystals when attempting to melt snow or ice. Both of these products will work faster and more efficiently than salt, without harming your lawn or plants.
• Try not to walk on frozen grass over the winter as you will destroy the living cells in the blades of grass where ever you step. Two or more inches of snow and you can walk on the grass, 3 or more inches and sledding is OK.
Week 4
• Always remove heavy snow from evergreens and shrubs, always brushing upward with a kitchen broom. If the plants are coated with ice, do not touch and allow it to melt as attempting to brush it may break the stems or the plant.
• As a preventative to indoor houseplant pest mix up this recipe, 50-50 mix of rubbing alcohol and water or you can use insecticidal soap. Spray the plant every five days until you have made six treatments. It may take four to five weeks to rid the plant of the insect pests, so be patient, the insects lay eggs that hatch in seven to 10 days, which make it necessary to keep spraying.
* * *
If deer are destroying your plants spray the plants with Liquid Fence.
Make repeated applications every 20 to 30 days. You can also use in conjunction with this Milorganite, spreading this around the perimeter of the location of all the desired plants. Hanging Irish Spring bar soap on strings from trees also may help.
But, remember, if the deer get hungry enough — unless the plant is poisonous to them — almost nothing will stop them.
(Editor’s Note: Ken Morgan is owner of Robin’s Nest Floral and Garden Center in Easton, Md.)