Field of Science

Time to bring tropical houseplants indoors

My habit has been to put all my tropical houseplants outside for the summer. And now is the time to bring them inside again, great advice because it's actually about a month past the time to bring houseplants indoors. Some don't like it when the nighttime temperatures drop below 50F. Some are tougher and don't mind some cooler nights. None like frosts. Most are in hanging baskets, so several orchids, bromeliads, gesners, and epiphytic cacti get hung in various places, usually in part shade for the better part of 5 months. Several bonsai trees, figs, a Pittosporum, a Bougainvillea, a podocarp, sit on shelves inside a cage to prevent squirrel damage. In particular the hanging plants respond very positively to this treatment, and they flower reliably as a result. This is undoubtably because they get enough long nights outside while inside even a flash of light can interrupt the stimulus. Presently a couple of orchid cacti, an orchid, and a gesner are in full bloom in a 4-season room where they all reside during the winter months. Several more will bloom later in the season, and a couple have been featured here before: the queen's tears, an azalea. Your houseplants also look rather nice hanging out in other wise dull areas of the garden, but several trees have become jealous and regularly discard a branch or two upon the houseplants. That no serious damage has occurred is a wonder. When inside, all these epiphytes growing is rather porous mixtures do quite well when their pot is soaked once a week. This is done by immersing the pot in a sink or bucket and letting it soak for awhile. The larger ones are set upon stools and given a light shower of ever so slighlty tepid water for 10-15 mins, let drain, and then rehung. It also keeps them free of dust. The real trick is finding enough nice places for them inside.

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