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ASK THE INDOOR GARDENER : Can Miniature Roses Thrive Inside?

October 24, 1993|JOEL RAPP | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES; Rapp is a Los Angeles free-lance writer who, as "Mr. Mother Earth," has written several best- s elling books on indoor gardening

QUESTION: I recently bought a pot of miniature roses at my local supermarket. I've been trying to grow them in my kitchen window, but most of the leaves have turned yellow and they don't look like they're going to make it. I know miniature roses are easy to grow outside in the garden, but is it really possible to grow them indoors?

ANSWER: Absolutely. Miniature roses make wonderful houseplants, and the high-quality plants (next time buy them at a nursery, garden center, or through a catalogue) will usually do as well indoors as out, as long as you provide them with a southern exposure, keep their soil uniformly moist at all times, and feed them once a month with a soluble rose fertilizer such as Miracle-Gro, Ortho or Peters. Minis will also flourish indoors under plant-grow lights.

Umbrella Tree Leaves Falling Like Rain

Q: My umbrella tree is dropping leaves like crazy! I have it in an entry hall where it doesn't get much light and I water it about once a week. Is there a way to save it before all the leaves drop off?

A: Your umbrella tree (also known as schefflera, or Brassaia actinophylla ) is suffering from a lack of light. Move the plant at once to the sunniest spot you can find, water only when the soil is dry to the touch and keep your fingers crossed. Chances are about 80-20 that it will eventually make it back to its original full majesty. Incidentally, the leaf-cluster on the end of each stem of a healthy schefflera tree will usually droop slightly like a half-open umbrella, thus the nickname and not to worry.

Evergreen Seems to Have Outgrown Table

Q: I have a Chinese evergreen plant in a six-inch pot that I've had sitting on an end table for over a year now and I just love the way it looks. The problem is the roots are growing out of the bottom of the pot. I know it needs to be transplanted into a larger pot but then it will no longer fit on my end table. What can I do?

A: Do nothing. Your Chinese evergreen does not have to be transplanted. It can live for years and years in that six-inch pot, as long as you freshen the soil from time to time and only fertilize about once every six months. (It's somewhat akin to the theory behind bonsai plants.) One thing you might want to do: Since the plant is most likely root-bound--slip it out of the pot and there will probably be more roots than soil--I'd suggest you trim away some of the roots with a sharp scissors. This will not hurt the plant and will help keep it "dwarfed" and brightening up your end table.

Plant Looks Like an Onion But It's Not

Q: I recently stumbled upon a plant that looks like a small, green onion. It has long, green tendrils growing form the top and a couple of little bumps on the otherwise smooth surface. I couldn't resist buying it, but I'd like to know what it's called and how to take care of it.

A: The plant is most commonly called "false sea onion," although it's also known as "pregnant onion." It's a succulent green bulb, grown above the ground, which produces graceful drooping leaves and clusters of white flowers at the end of a single stem.

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