- Author: Lynn Galloway
Autumn is definitely my favorite time of the year. The vibrant colors, brisk temperatures, and harvesting the last of my vegetable garden are among my favorite personal indulgences. But I wonder, how to survive the long winter without my garden to tend and my fresh flowers to arrange. My answer: refocus my attention to my indoor plants which tend to become a little neglected during the summer.
My love of houseplants began years ago in the early seventies, when indoor plants were all the rage. My friends and I would share clippings and collectively beam at our successes and our green thumbs. Over the years, I have remained faithful to the indoor plant, even though for a short time silk plants seemed an easy solution in keeping green with no care.
In 1974 I was gifted an umbrella plant, which arrived in a gallon pot containing three small trees. Only one has survived. Through the years we have battled white flies, scale, gnats, and ants. I have repotted, pruned, leached, soaped its leaves, and fed my Schefflera. Every autumn, I take my tree outside and give it a good soaking and shower. I check to see if it’s time for repotting.
My tree now stands about four feet tall. It is very compact and full, as I prune it every few years. I think one of the main reasons for my success with my umbrella plant is that I only water it once a week, and it’s in a great location. It receives filtered sunlight most of the day, but no direct sun. I also don’t overfeed my tree. When it begins to lose some color, I add a little fertilizer, the kind you mix with water. I follow the directions to the “T” and don’t overdo it. My umbrella plant is approaching its fortieth birthday! This year, I am going to attempt to start a couple of trees from clippings.
I’ve had good luck with many houseplants over the years. Another one of my finds is my Ficus benjamina tree. I purchased it at a yard sale. It looked very pitiful, and the small amount I paid for it more than covered the cost of the large pot it was housed in. When I took it home, I rinsed it off, took it out of its pot (which was way too large for it), and repotted it in a smaller pot in new potting soil. My tree now stands over nine feet tall, and I’m proud to say that it looks fabulous! I water it once a week, and follow much the same care as my umbrella plant. Sometimes if my plant becomes stressed, it loses many of its leaves. If you find a good spot for your weeping fig, keep it there. They really don’t like being moved!
Happy indoor gardening!