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Indoor gardening with houseplants - Extension can help!

Suitable for our dry homes, bromeliads have graphic-rich foliage
Houseplants are growing in popularity (pun intended!) and that means you may be regularly adding new plants to your collection. Sometimes undesirable pests like aphids, mealybugs, scale and fungus gnats can hitchhike on new plants and cause a lot of grief for the plant owner.

How to buy the right houseplant

When looking over the many plants at your favorite garden center, stay away from the plants that are less than robust (and those on the Clearance rack!) Take your time to look over and under leaves, on stems, and examine flower buds. 

Use technology to help: there are smart phone apps that turn your smart phone into a smart magnifier. You can even snap pictures! I downloaded one for my android phone simply called "Magnifying glass". It works slick.

Desert rose (Adenium obesum) is a drought-tolerant
plant for warm sunny windows and patios.

Help your new plant adjust 

If you're wrapping up a plant in a large plastic bag to transport it home/to your office/to a friend, blow into the plastic bag to inflate it and create an air barrier, then tie it shut. This prevents the plastic from  transmitting cold if it touches the plant, and possibly cause chilling damage to the plant. Just a little extra protection!

Moth orchids (Phaleanopsis) are some of the
easiest orchids to grow - and affordable.
When you bring home or receive a new plant as a gift, put it in quarantine for a couple of weeks until you're certain it is pest free. Water it when the soil feels dry. Don't fertilize it - the plant is acclimating to its new environment and a shot of fertilizer can prompt growth and tax the plant's energy. Once you are sure the plant is pest-free, you can move it into your location of choice.

If you do discover your plant is infested, contact the garden center where you purchased it and ask for a replacement. Our webpage Managing insects on on houseplants contains important and helpful information on identification and various management techniques.

What's your favorite houseplant? Let me know at

--Julie Weisenhorn, Extension Educator, Horticulture

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