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know it and grow it

Lead Summary
george Bonnema, Luverne

If you have been “vacationing” indoor plants outdoors for the summer, now is the time to begin to acclimate them for their return to indoor conditions. 
The houseplants have been used to summer’s long days with light coming from all around them, but indoors they will have to adjust to what available light comes through a window. So bring the plant in to where it will be for the winter for a couple of days, and then set it back out for a couple of days so the plant adjusts to this lower light. 
Going from bright light to much lower available light all at once will often cause the plant to abort a lot of foliage because light is what gives the plant its energy.  If the plant senses it isn’t getting enough energy to support all of its foliage, it will abort what it can’t maintain, and a shower of yellow leaves will not look pretty.  Repeat this process four or five times and the transition should be much more successful.  
Also, be sure to spray all leaf surfaces with an insecticide to prevent bringing in hitch hiking bugs … they would really appreciate “vacationing” indoors for the winter.  Additionally, using a systemic insecticide on the soil is also a great bug problem preventative.
For many plants, the shorter days and cooler nights will have initiated flower bud development.  This is why poinsettias and Christmas cactus bloom when they are supposed to.  Sept. 15 through Oct. 15 is the month when this initiation takes place.  So keep in mind that day length is the factor.  If you want a poinsettia to bloom, you cannot interrupt the period of darkness at night by turning on a room light. If you do, you have just made the day longer and you will have totally confused the plant’s calendar.
If you have amaryllis bulbs outdoors for the summer, get them repotted and inside prior to frost.  These bulbs are tropical and will not tolerate that cold.  You can cut the foliage off if the leaves aren’t attractive.  If you don’t cut the leaves back, you will want to keep the plant in bright light.  If you do remove the foliage, keep the soil just barely moist and set the pot in a cool, dark area until the bulb begins to send out new growth.  When that new growth begins, place the pot in the brightest light you have and begin a water schedule that keeps the soil uniformly moist.  Use a blooming plant fertilizer in the water a couple of times per month to maintain adequate nutrients.  

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