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Friday, January 7, 2011

winter gardening

phalaeonopsis orchid

we have just passed through the shortest day of the year. in the northeast and in central new york and the syracuse area in particular, we have had very little sunshine in the last 2 months. it is not at all uncommon for this area but it is really rough on the indoor plants.  the holidays are past and hopefully the decorations are stored away.  it is a good time to check over your plants, remove the dead leaves and debris and inspect for insects and pests.

all fertilizer should be with held between november and march. the exception is the short day bloomers such as cacti, poinsettias, etc.

give your plants a thorough examination. look at the stems and the underside of the leaves.
anything sticky or fuzzy is not a good sign. mealybugs are the fuzzy ones and scales leaves a sticky substance on the leaves and sometimes the floor!!  if the infestation is light, a q tip and alcohol will keep the little 'buggers' at bay. i use an ice pick to get into the areas that a cotton swab will not. do not even consider keeping a seasonal plant that might be infected. throw it out. it is not worth infesting your other house plants. i know this because...i just threw out 65 orchids in the fall. i had been fighting mealybugs on them for a long time. the orchids (all phals) had been collected over the years and i had some wonderful varieties. it made me sadbut i should have done it several years ago.

if your plants are small enough ,give them a shower. wash large leaves with a soft cloth dipped in water and a very small amount of dish detergent. your plants will love it.
western exposure
i should have taken a close up of the plant in the upper right corner. it is a meyers lemon tree that i have had for 40 years. i root prune it and it is in the same pot and the same height as it was 35 years ago. it is in bloom and the scent is heavenly at this time of year. this is the first year that it has not had ripe lemons along with the green ones and the blossoms. there is not much color now behind the couch. even the geraniums are taking a rest but they are filled with tight buds. i do miss the orchids.


  1. Your orchids are quite lovely! I have a grapefruit tree which keeps getting small webby looking areas where the branches joins in to the stems. Any suggestions?

  2. betsy, it is probably spider mites. atrip to the shower will help. if that is too difficult, use a sray bottle with just a little drop of dish soap in it. spray the foliage daily or when you 'remember'. it will not kill them but they will be very unhappy.