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ASK THE INDOOR GARDENER : What, When to Feed Houseplants

January 16, 1994|JOEL RAPP | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES; Rapp is a Los Angeles free-lance writer who, as "Mr. Mother Earth," has written several best-selling books on indoor gardening

QUESTION: How often should I feed my houseplants and what kind of fertilizer should I use?

ANSWER: Indoor plants should be fed once a week during their growing season, which is roughly from spring through fall. In southern California one might think the growing season for houseplants would last all yearlong, and that is essentially true. But growth slows considerably from the beginning of December through the end of March, so your plants should be given a rest from feeding during those months. Use a good liquid houseplant food (such as Miracle Gro or Shultz) mixed with water according to bottle directions.

Do Houseplants Live Longer in Clay Pots?

Q: A friend of mine told me that houseplants live longer in clay pots than plastic pots? Is that true?

A: Not exactly. What your friend meant was that since clay (terra cotta) pots are porous and plastic pots are not, there's less chance of overwatering plants in clay than in plastic, and since overwatering is the number one cause of houseplant death, putting all your plants in clay pots is a very good idea. When whitish deposits appear on the sides of your clay pots, simply wash them off with soapy water. And if moss develops on the sides of the pots, leave it on--that look is very much "in" these days!

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