House plants too large | Is it ok to dethatch lawn now? | When to bring in poinsettias?
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Issue1 August 26, 2000

House plants too large

Question:

Some of my house plants have gotten too large. Now I just don't have room for them. Can I prune them back to make them fit in my windows?

Answer:

Some potted plants may be pruned back, others may be propagated to produce new and smaller plants, and in some cases it may be better to buy plants which fit your space.

You will need to look at each plant to decide which is the best procedure for the plant and for your conditions. Plants like African violets (except the patented varieties) may be propagated by leaf cuttings. Geraniums, Dieffenbachia, Aglaonema, and many others may be propagated by stem cuttings. Palms and many other plants may be propagated by the offsets, small plants produced at the base of the parent plant.

There should be some good books on house plants and plant propagation in your local library. These will advise you on specific techniques for each type of plant.


Is it ok to dethatch lawn now?

Question:

Can I aerify and dethatch my lawn now? I have a fescue lawn that has developed a lot of thatch.

Answer:

As we move into autumn with its cooler temperatures, fescue will resume active growth. That is the time for thatch removal. It is good that you have waited through the summer when the grass is not growing so actively and not as able to recover from the inevitable damage caused by thatch removal. Once you have removed thatch from the lawn, fertilize to stimulate the growth that will repair the damage. Water adequately, but remember that the grass will use less water, and the water will evaporate less rapidly as the temperatures cool.

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When to bring in poinsettias?

Question:

When is the right time to bring my poinsettias indoors? I have grown them outside through the winter and want to put them in a closet so that they will bloom for Christmas.

Answer:

Here in New Mexico, we can leave the plants outside a while longer. They will be injured by frost or temperatures near freezing. So, before night temperatures drop below 40 degrees, bring the plants indoors. At higher elevations, that time will be in a few weeks, but for some parts of the state, the plants can remain outside for a couple more months. Once the Autumnal equinox occurs, the process of flower formation will begin, even outdoors. The flowers begin to form when day length is less than 12 hours, and the nights are longer than 12 hours.

Before bringing your poinsettia plant and other house plants indoors, check for insects and diseases and treat the problems. It is much easier to manage these problems outdoors. Once the plants are inside, your pest and disease management options are much more limited.

When you bring the plants indoors, you do not need to keep the plant in a closet. In fact, that is the wrong place to keep the plants. You may move them into a closet at night, but return them to a sunny window during the day. They continue to need light. Continue watering to keep the soil moist so that the leaves don't drop off. After all, the brightly colored bracts surrounding the flowers are just colored leaves.

Throughout the time the plants are indoors, continue to monitor for insect problems and deal with the problems as soon as they are discovered.


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Send your gardening questions to Yard and Garden, ATTN: Dr. Curtis Smith NMSU Cooperative Extension Service 9301 Indian School Road, NE, Suite 112 Albuquerque, NM 87112

Curtis W. Smith, Ph.D., is an Extension Horticulture Specialist with New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service. New Mexico State University is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer and educator.

Please join us on Southwest Yard & Garden, a weekly garden program made for gardeners in the Southwest on: KNME-TV Albuquerque at 1 p.m. Sundays, KENW-TV Portales at 10 a.m. Saturdays, and KRWG-TV Las Cruces at 10:30 a.m. Saturdays (repeated at 11 p.m. Sundays and 1 p.m. Thursdays.)