Interior Plants

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Basics on caring for house plants.

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Interior Plants

  1. 1. Interior Plants Karen L. Panter, Ph.D. Extension Horticulture Specialist Department of Plant Sciences University of Wyoming
  2. 2. Today’s Discussion <ul><li>Definition </li></ul><ul><li>Light </li></ul><ul><li>Temperature </li></ul><ul><li>Humidity </li></ul><ul><li>Water </li></ul><ul><li>Nutrients </li></ul><ul><li>Potting and repotting </li></ul><ul><li>Propagation </li></ul><ul><li>Problems </li></ul>
  3. 3. Successful Interior Plants <ul><li>Correct combination </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Light </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Temperature </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Humidity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Water </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Nutrients </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Not all plants suited </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Indoor environment may not be right </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Successful Interior Plants <ul><li>Rooms in homes vary in </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Light </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Temperature </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Humidity </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Select </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The plant for the site </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Not the site for the plant </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Successful Interior Plants <ul><li>Need environment similar to native habitat </li></ul><ul><li>Forest floor plants </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Survive with diffuse, low light </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Desert plants </li></ul><ul><ul><li>High light, warm temperatures </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Tropical and subtropical plants </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Humid air, warm temperatures </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Cool climate plants </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Cool days, warm nights </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Light <ul><li>Major limiting factor </li></ul>1 foot 100 foot candles 2 feet 25 foot candles 3 feet 11 foot candles
  7. 7. Light <ul><li>Remedies for insufficient light </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Move closer to window </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Move to a brighter room </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Place near lamp </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Provide artificial light </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reflect light with mirror </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Keep clean </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Light <ul><li>Remedies for too-high light </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Move plant farther from window </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Place thin curtain between window and plant </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Use blinds </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Use dark backdrop </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Shade using another plant </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. Temperature <ul><li>Home temperatures </li></ul><ul><ul><li>For human comfort </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Not necessarily plants! </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Bedrooms? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Typically cool </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Bathrooms and kitchens? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Typically humid </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Southern exposure? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Warm! </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Most plants </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Fairly adaptable </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Avoid </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Drafts </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Temperature extremes </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. Humidity <ul><li>Rocky Mountain air </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Very dry </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Forced-air heat and air conditioning do not help </li></ul><ul><li>Better </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Hot water heat </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Electric heat </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Humidity <ul><li>Plants that prefer higher humidity </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Ferns </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ivies </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Mosses </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Many orchids </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Plants that manage lower humidity levels </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Philodendron </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Succulents </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cacti </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. Humidity <ul><li>Remedies </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Gravel layer </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Peat moss </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Group plants together </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Humidifier </li></ul></ul><ul><li>What doesn’t work well? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Misting </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Does not increase humidity much </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Benefit is keeping foliage clean though </li></ul></ul></ul>
  13. 13. Water <ul><li>Arguably most important </li></ul><ul><li>Most abused practice! </li></ul><ul><li>Most interior plant problems due to </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Improper watering </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Improper light </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Improper nutrition </li></ul></ul>
  14. 14. Water <ul><li>Conditions necessary for plants to take up water </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Must be available water in the growing medium </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Must be air (oxygen) in the growing medium </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>So roots can function properly </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Proper water management </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Avoids extremes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Maintains supply of available water </li></ul></ul>
  15. 15. Water <ul><li>Tips </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Good-quality growing medium a must </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Usually get what you pay for </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Drainage hole(s) essential </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Water should run out drainage hole when watering </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Toss out excess </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Do not allow pots to sit in excess water </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Saturates medium limiting oxygen to roots </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Water according to need, not the calendar </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Use larger pots for plants requiring more water </li></ul></ul>
  16. 16. Water <ul><li>Tips </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Water cacti and succulents little during winter months </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Try not to allow highly organic media to dry out </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Hard to rewet </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Submerge in water </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Flush salts from pots regularly </li></ul></ul>
  17. 17. Water <ul><li>Dispel the myth! </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Chlorine in domestic water does not harm plants! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Fluoride can though </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Lily family </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Dracaena </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Use room temperature water when possible </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Especially sensitive plants </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>African violets </li></ul></ul></ul>
  18. 18. Nutrients <ul><li>Limited soil volume </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Limits nutrient (and water) supply </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Can easily be exhausted </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Soluble liquid or powder fertilizers </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Vary in strength and composition </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Follow label directions </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Slow release types </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Excellent for house plants </li></ul></ul>
  19. 19. Nutrients <ul><li>Tips </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Use slow release fertilizers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Plants usually grow best with small amounts of nutrients available consistently </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Do not apply fertilizers to dry soil or growing medium </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Root burn! </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Do not over-fertilize! More is not better ! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Organic or synthetic types equally acceptable </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Plants can’t tell the difference </li></ul></ul></ul>
  20. 20. Potting and Repotting <ul><li>Usually needs to be done periodically </li></ul><ul><li>Small plants may need larger pot </li></ul><ul><li>Mature plants may need rejuvenation </li></ul>
  21. 21. Potting and Repotting <ul><li>Take into consideration </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Plant size </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Small ones easier to transplant </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Seedlings </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>When first true leaves form </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Plant condition </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Best when actively growing </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>If dormant or flowering </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>May not produce new root growth </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Well-watered </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>No disease or insect problems </li></ul></ul></ul>
  22. 22. Potting and Repotting <ul><li>Container type </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Use almost anything! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Provided drainage holes present </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Clay </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Porous </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Heavy </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Breakable </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Require more frequent watering </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Plastic </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Nonporous </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Lightweight </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Durable </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Dry out more slowly </li></ul></ul></ul>
  23. 23. Potting and Repotting <ul><li>Container size </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Use smallest container size for current stage of development </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Small plants in large containers look lost! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Adjust container sizes according to watering needs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Higher water-requiring </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Larger containers </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Lower water-requiring </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Can get away with smaller pots </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  24. 24. Growing Media <ul><li>Container-grown plants </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Require special attention to growing media </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Restricted root growth </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Small container size </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ready-to-use mixes available almost anywhere </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Use of heavy clay native garden soils is not recommended! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Too heavy </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Hold too much moisture </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Difficult to work with in containers </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Must be sterilized </li></ul></ul></ul>
  25. 25. Growing Media <ul><li>Requirements </li></ul><ul><ul><li>High proportion of coarse mineral particles </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Maintain pore spaces </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Air </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Root growth </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>High organic matter content </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Hold water </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Minimize compaction </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sufficient mineral nutrients </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Must be replenished regularly though </li></ul></ul></ul>
  26. 26. Growing Media <ul><li>Suggested components </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Good quality soil or compost </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Coarse sand </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Pumice or perlite </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Vermiculite </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Peat moss or coconut coir </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Equal parts (by volume) work well </li></ul>
  27. 27. Growing Media <ul><li>General mixture </li></ul><ul><ul><li>1 part loamy soil (sterilize first) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>1 part sand, perlite, or pumice </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>1 part sphagnum peat moss </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>1 quart bonemeal per 8 gallons (1 bushel) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>1 pint dolomitic lime per 8 gallons </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Vegetables, bedding plants, geraniums, fuchsias, ivies </li></ul>
  28. 28. Growing Media <ul><li>High-organic mix </li></ul><ul><ul><li>1 part general mix (previous slide) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>1 part sphagnum peat moss </li></ul></ul><ul><li>African violets and most tropical foliage plants </li></ul>
  29. 29. Growing Media <ul><li>Desert mix </li></ul><ul><ul><li>1 part general mix </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>1 part sand or perlite </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Cacti, succulents </li></ul>
  30. 30. Growing Media <ul><li>How do I sterilize soil? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Heat treat </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Oven </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Shallow layer </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Heat soil to 140 -160 F </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Keep at that temperature for 30 minutes </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Use meat or candy thermometer to check </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>It will smell! </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Will kill disease and weed organisms </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Typically leaves behind beneficials </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>But not always </li></ul></ul></ul>
  31. 31. Potting Process <ul><li>Tips </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Do not cover drainage holes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Inhibits free drainage </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Do not use layer of gravel at the bottom of the container </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Slows down drainage by shortening soil column </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Leaves less growing medium for roots too </li></ul></ul></ul>
  32. 32. Potting Process <ul><ul><li>Gently remove plant from original pot </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>May need to trim root system a bit </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Use clean pruners or scissors </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Place plant in center of new pot </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Fill in around the plant with growing medium </li></ul></ul></ul>
  33. 33. Potting Process <ul><li>Tips </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Do not compress the growing medium! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Fills in air and water pore spaces </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Destroys beneficial qualities of the medium </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Tap container on bench or tap sides of container to settle soil in </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Fill container to about ½” of top </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Water in well </li></ul></ul>
  34. 34. Propagation <ul><li>Most interior plants propagated by </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Cuttings </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Division </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Rarely seeds </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Hard to germinate </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Lengthy time </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Hard seed coats </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>High temperatures often </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>High humidity usually </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Tissue culture (or more appropriately, micropropagation) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Orchids </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>New varieties </li></ul></ul>
  35. 35. Potential Problems <ul><li>Usually cultural or environmental in nature </li></ul><ul><li>Diseases rare </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Especially in our dry climate </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Insects may be more common </li></ul><ul><li>Keep plants healthy </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Will be better able to fend off insect or disease problems </li></ul></ul>
  36. 36. Potential Problems <ul><li>Most common pests </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Aphids </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Whiteflies </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Scales </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Mealybugs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Spider mites </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cyclamen mites </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Less common pests </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Leafminers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Fungus gnats </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Caterpillars </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Beetles </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Thrips </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Leafhoppers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Springtails </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Slugs and snails </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Millipedes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Centipedes </li></ul></ul>
  37. 37. Preventing Problems <ul><li>Inspect new plants carefully </li></ul><ul><li>Be careful with plants brought inside after spending the summer outdoors </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Can bring in all sorts of creatures! </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Keep doors and windows closed </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Use screens </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Avoid using outdoor soil </li></ul><ul><li>Be careful when handling plants in other locations </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Pests can hitchhike home with you </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Clean up leaf litter, etc. from tops of pots </li></ul>
  38. 38. Controlling Pests <ul><li>Nonchemical strategies </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Remove infested plant parts </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Dispose of heavily infested plants </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Hand removal of pest(s) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Swab with alcohol </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Spray with soapy water </li></ul></ul>
  39. 39. Controlling Pests <ul><li>Chemical strategies </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Few pesticides available for interior use </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Read labels carefully! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Avoid treating plants indoors </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Take outside to spray </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Let dry before bringing back in </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Systemics are available </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Apply to top of soil and water in </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Plant takes up by root system </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Takes time </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Not effective on all insect pests </li></ul></ul></ul>
  40. 40. Damage from Pesticides (Phytotoxicity) <ul><li>Symptoms include </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Total burn, marginal burn, or spotting on leaves or flowers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cupped, curled, or yellow leaves </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Distorted leaf or flower buds </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Usually won’t kill the plant </li></ul><ul><li>Foliage or flowers may drop </li></ul><ul><ul><li>New growth will occur </li></ul></ul>
  41. 41. Always read the label!

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