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Category Search Results for:
House Plants

Question: 410-3410
My Bird of Paradise plant is 40 inches tall and is 7 years old. It hasn't bloomed yet. What can I do? Julie, Waterford, CT

Mort's Answer:
You are taking too good care of your tropical plant. It needs to have the temperature drop in the winter to 40 for at least three weeks. Without the dormancy, you are unlikely to get the flower to set. In southern California and Florida this occurs naturally. As an indoor plant, we need to assimilate the natural environment as closely as possible to insure the plants vigor. I would also recommend that you change to a clay pot, if it isn?t in one. Use a two inch larger pot and add one-third coarse sand to the new soil. Within a month after the plant has taken hold in the new soil, you should add a tablespoon of bonemeal to the soil.

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Question: 978-
My tomatoes are huge this year. Should I cut or trim them? Should I pick the flowers off on my cilantro? Frank, Greendale, WI

Mort's Answer:
Tomatoes should be staked to accommodate the possible eight foot growth. Heat and rain have produced gigantic flowers and vegetables this year in many parts of the country. You can remove the center shoots in a W and make it a Y. If you have tomato fruit in the center stem, I would leave it. Cilantro flowers should be removed like basil to provide more leave energy. If you collect seeds and dry the plants, you should let the flowers grow to seed. Coriander often refers to the seed used in cooking but often refers to the whole plant.

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Question: 7-5201
We have an Abutilon that we have just planted. Can I keep that outdoors through the winter? Marie, Brunswich, GA

Mort's Answer:
Flowering Maple is hardy from zone 8 south. Since it gets rather breezy on the isles, I would recommend covering the plant with burlap in the winter. There are several good Abutilon with pinkish purple, yellow or white trumpet flowers. A. hybridum varieties include Boule DeNeige and Golden Fleece. A..pictum has a yellow or orange flower with red veins. A. theophrasti is basically an annual weed.

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Question: 1232-615
I have African Blood Lily as a houseplant. Can It planted outdoors? Emily, Willimantic, CT

Mort's Answer:
Scadoxus multiflorus is in the Amaryllis family and can treated similarly. Its red flower does does not last long especially indoors but has a berry .The one umbel flower head consists of 200 tiny flowers and is very showy. It will bloom in late summer in the garden. I would rest the plant after it has finished blooming in a couple of weeks. Like its cousin the amaryllis, the bulbous root can be stored in a cool dry place. If you plant the root in the garden in mid May, you could get a longer and larger bloom. You could cover the root with mulch for the winter in zone 6 but I would not take a chance and recycle the root by storing it again indoors in a cool spot.

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Question: 903-1013
My African Violets have some brown spots on the leaves. They are in filtered light and I lightly water and fertilize them. What could be the problem? Julie, Templeton, MA

Mort's Answer:
African violets should be given water from the bottom. You can spray with a mist for the water but not the liquid fertilizer. If you do not have fertilizer burn from excess fertilizer or contact with the leaves, water crystals can act as a magnifying glass on the very sensitive leaves and be the cause. Remove the affected leaves and forgive yourself for the violation.

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Question: 1362-3016
Please give me some advice on my African violet. She is perishing before my eyes. I have moved her to several different locations. Does she want lots of sun? Or just a little? Overwatering or under? Her energy is low. Dee, Warwick, RI

Mort's Answer:
Oh, those African violets! Usually they are done in by excess water. Violets want indirect light all the time. Some plants will be shocked by drastic change. A light dosage of higher middle number fertilizer will help bring them back. I would first change the soil and look for rotted roots. Scrape off all brown or black roots. Put the plant in a new clay pot in a east or west window. New soil should be a third fine sand and sterile potting soil. If you have a deck that is completely shaded, that would be best. African violets should be misted every day instead of giving them water. Bring the plant back indoors in late summer. Follow this advice and you will not feel violated.

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Question: 12-5201
My Aloe Vera houseplant that I purchase a 3 weeks ago is mushy in the center. What could be the problem? Marie, Pawtucket, RI

Mort's Answer:
Too much water will turn a succulent into mush. I would take it back to the store and ask for a credit. Unless is you watered every day since you purchased it, the damage was done at an earlier time.

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