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Moving houseplants outside; good care of hanging baskets

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In about 10-15 days or so, it will be time to start moving some of your larger houseplants outdoors for the summer. They will get better air circulation and light exposure. This also is a good time to repot your container-bound plants according to Rick Durham, UK Extension Horticulture Specialist.

Make sure the weather is consistently warm. Since most houseplants have a tropical origin, temperatures below 40 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit might damage them.

Even if you know a particular plant prefers high-light conditions, don’t immediately put it or any houseplants in direct sunlight outdoors because they will need time to adjust to a higher light intensity. Instead, gradually increase the amount plants receive by first moving them under a covered patio or large shade tree for seven to 10 days. If you notice foliage bleaching or burning, reduce the amount of sunlight for another week or so before moving a plant to a more intense light location.

As your houseplants receive more light, most will require more water and will benefit from increased application of a general-purpose, houseplant fertilizer.

To test soil moisture, stick your finger into the first few inches of soil; if it feels dry, water the plant. When applying fertilizer, always follow the label instructions for the amount of fertilizer and water to use and application frequency.

It’s a good idea to check for pest problems on your houseplants outdoors so you can control the situation before it gets out of hand. Always read pesticide label directions to be sure the product is labeled for your houseplants. Insecticidal soap is an environmentally-friendly, effective product that will take care of most houseplant pests.

By the way, we had a client call a couple of weeks ago who would like to give away two 6-8 foot Norfolk Island Pines. She usually sets them out during the summer months, but has decided to give them away. If anyone is interested, give us a call at 502-255-7188 and we will give you her contact number.

Hanging Baskets

If that hanging basket plant you may receive for Mother’s Day gets the doldrums, a regular diet of plant food and water will rejuvenate it in no time.

Inadequate fertility is a common problem in hanging baskets because plants eventually use all fertilizer in the soil. Most hanging baskets need to be fertilized every one to two weeks during the peak growing season. Use a houseplant fertilizer according to the manufacturer’s recommended level.

Hanging baskets also need to be frequently watered. How often depends on how much shade and rainfall they receive. When the temperature rises, they dry out quite fast, especially if they are in full sun... Some baskets need water every day or every other day, while others might need water only every three to four days. Check soil moisture to a depth of several inches with your finger.

Regardless of how often you water a hanging basket, be sure to do it thoroughly so you see water dripping from drainage holes.

You can rejuvenate hanging baskets by cutting back leggy plants. Pruning one-third to one-half the stem length will force new growth, causing plants to branch out more and flower again. Adequate fertility is critical in this situation because removing stems eliminates nutrients stored in plant tissues.

To learn more about home and garden topics, visit http://www2.ca.uky.edu/homegarden  or contact the Trimble County Cooperative Extension Service at 502-255-7188.

Michael Pyles is Trimble County’s Cooperative Extension agent for agriculture.