Plant care while away

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Plant care while away from home and school has been, like so many things of late, a chaotic affair.

The nationwide school closures have kept the area’s potted plant collection under a cloud of stress, amid prolonged inclement weather. The closures and quarantine orders have also forced many of us to change our approach to outdoor chores, like turning off sprinklers and defrosting the car.

Last week, as it became clear the closures and quarantine would last longer than originally predicted, my attention turned to my indoor potted plants. The week before, I’d purchased a number of tropical cacti and succulents from a local garden center, though a window of opportunity for their initial care had expired.

All told, these potted plants had spent more time under the lights in my condo than out in my garden, where temperatures on the hottest days would typically still be in the high 60s.

Unfortunately, the indoor environment has a few drawbacks when it comes to potted plants: sunlight is highly directional, water isn’t as readily available as it is outdoors, and because the plants are confined to a small area, they’re not as likely to see other gardeners who tend them.

Just because these plants weren’t well-nourished and the hosing wouldn’t bring them close to their full size, I still decided to give them a good deep soaking.

Soak Off

After getting in the tub, I followed these simple steps to assist the plants:

Scrape off any detritus, like dirt and loose soil, that had accumulated over the day.

Re-pot the plants in fresh potting soil or compost.

Leave them out of direct sunlight for a few days, depending on their species.

After a few days, take a close look at the foliage and report back to me.

If necessary, continue the cycle of soak, sun, and water.

I also gave a few of the succulents a light dusting of white charcoal, as one application of this powder is said to have a fertilizing effect on them.

Soaking, for its part, allows the potted plants to conserve water for times when their water source can be best utilized. A major benefit of potted plants is that they’re already hydrated by the time you get to them. But after a few days in the tub, there’s no need to worry about that. In fact, hydration now becomes the biggest worry.

If all goes well, the potted plants should look good and reach their full potential. In my next column, I’ll return to the outdoor plant world, while my indoor plants continue to grow.

Can you believe it’s the last of June? Are your plants reaching their blooming phase? Your potted plants, that is?

Perhaps you haven’t had the opportunity to see your indoor plants in a while, and this latest wave of school closures and the general state of emergency might have meant you haven’t had the opportunity to plant anything outside.

With Mother Nature on your side, your garden seems at the moment to be bearing all of the fruits of summer, with a lush display of colorful blooms and delightful fruits. No doubt about it, your plants are looking better than they have for a while.

Though the area’s hot, sunny days are still weeks away, you’ll have to work fast to get your plants up to snuff before the season’s final heatwave, and it’s at this point you’ll want to give your plants a thorough

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