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The Neighborhood Gardener – September 2015

Happy Gardening!

The deadline is approaching; you only have one more week to register for the 34th State Master Gardener Conference at the early bird rate. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to hear our keynote speaker from the Florida Wildlife Corridor or attend some of the 24 concurrent educational sessions.

This month in The Neighborhood Gardener:

Chinese evergreen plantPlants That Clean the Air – With summer ending and school back in session, people are spending more time indoors and thinking about how that is affecting them. While many people know that having a houseplant in their home or office can cheer up the space, they may not know that it can also help clean the air. Many popular houseplants are actually quite good at removing toxins like formaldehyde and benzene.

WendyWendy’s Wanderings — The Florida Master Gardener Volunteers that work with school gardens have a special place in my heart. It takes a huge amount of planning, planting, and heart to work with students and teachers in their school gardens, but payoffs are more than worth it. I understand just how much hard work and fun it can be helping young gardeners nurture a love of growing their own food.

calico flowerPlant of the Month: Calico Flower — Named for the mottled pattern on its blossoms, calico flower is native to Brazil. This vining plant climbs and covers chain link and wire structures well, transforming plain structures into a lovely green screen. It’s ideal for butterfly gardens, serving as the larval host plant to two types of swallowtail butterflies. Gardeners should plant this vine in a sunny location with well-drained soil.

September in Your Garden – September is a great time to divide and replant your perennials, such as daylilies and amaryllis, which have grown too large or need a little rejuvenation. Be sure to add organic matter to your new planting areas and keep weeds in check while the plants establish themselves.

web in treeFriend or Foe? Neither: Fall Webworm — While the fall webworm isn’t really a garden friend, neither is it a true pest. The nests these caterpillars build on the ends of tree branches may be unsightly, but they won’t last long in your landscape. Trying to rid your trees of these caterpillars can often cause more harm than leaving them be.

Read the full September issue.

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Tutorial: Repotting Indoor Plants

Have your houseplants outgrown their homes?  Give them room to stretch their roots in a new pot.  Here’s how.

Remove rootbound plant from old pot.

Remove rootbound plant from old pot

Check out those roots! Definitely time to repot.

Remove root-bound plant from old pot

Loosen the roots of the plant.

Loosen roots

It’s usually best to select a pot that’s one size up from the original. In this case, we probably went two steps up. However, the plant will most likely do fine in a bigger pot.

Select a new, larger container

Add soil to the new pot.

Add soil to the new pot

You want to add enough soil so that when you add the plant, the top of the soil line will be an inch or two below the edge of the pot.

Create a base layer of soil

Place the plant in the center of the pot.

Place the plant in the pot

Make sure the plant is centered nicely in the pot and that the final soil line will be within an inch or two of the edge of the pot.

Adjust the plant

Fill in the area around the plant with soil.

Fill with soil

It’s important to settle the soil to eliminate any large air pockets. These can hinder the plants ability to uptake water and nutrients. You can either tap the pot firmly on the table or press lightly on the top of the soil.

Settle the soil

And, that’s all there is to it!  Pretty easy, huh?  The new plant may look a little scrawny in its bigger pot, but in a few weeks it will start filling in and looking really nice. If the plant is top heavy, you may need to stake it with bamboo until the roots become more established in the new pot.