By William Mills
Bringing plants in for the winter always poses the problem of overcrowding. During the summer potted plants can be left outside, in window boxes and on doorsteps.
Yet, once the first frost arrives delicate plants must come indoors and finding sufficient space for them can be a struggle. We are told plants need space, light, but not near a radiator, fresh air but not placed in draughts. We are not to over water them whilst not letting them dry out. Tricky eh?
So the first question must be how much of our homes are we willing to give over to plants? When does an attractive corner filler become an annoying trip-me-up nuisance?
Over the summer plants tend to grow and are much larger cum autumn. Plants tightly bunched up results in competition for dwindling light and diseases can spread from plant to plant, so check them carefully for signs of snails and any minute bugs. If necessary buy an aerosol of insect killer from your local hardware store and follow the instructions on the label.
It might be prudent to decide just how large we really want our plants to become. Look at the space we have available and prune the plant back sharply by cutting off excess leaves and branches. Be firm but not brutal. If some spindly growth does occur during the winter months, it is a sign that the plant is still growing and can be cut back in the spring. Winter is for rest and a slow down in growth.
The illustration shows three plants on a small living room table. The succulent on the right is becoming a problem. Earlier this year it was a small, unobtrusive plant. It was watered aggressively with ‘Miracle-Gro’, and promptly outgrew its pot. Re-potted, it grew even more and now is in danger of becoming ungainly and tipping over. It might be best to cut it back, stake it up and try to encourage it to grow straight and more slowly in future.
The centre plant, another succulent, on the other hand, needs to grow so the canopy completely hides its pot creating a wonderful effect.
On the left, the Dracaena is being kept level with the room’s windows. If it was placed on the floor immediately beneath it would grow up towards the light getting increasingly large.