Keeping the indoor garden in thriving condition is a pleasure the year round. In the summertime, houseplants seem to grow and grow for your enjoyment. Five or 10 minutes of care at odd moments is all that is required of you in return.Light, temperature and moisture are still the watchwords.
Light - summer sun
Indoor light variation can be considerable. Watch out for plants in sunny windows. As the days grow shorter, the angle of the sun's rays shifts and can make a difference in the duration and intensity of light falling on plants near windows. Not only do you need to be aware of the intensity of light coming through a broad expanse of glass, but you should also check on the temperature near the glass. It can be as much as 10 degrees higher than the rest of the room and much too warm for some plants.
Remember that the sun should not shine on your terrarium, but do keep it in bright light.
Some plants for east and west windows: prayer plant, wandering Jew, wax begonia, corn plant, spider plant, African violets. In west windows some shading and protection from heat may be necessary in summer.
In south windows, too, some attention to filtering the sunlight may be necessary. Flowering plants enjoy this window.
North window plants, such as grape ivy, Chinese evergreen, snake plant and others accustomed to subdued light the rest of the year will be flourishing in the increased amount of light which the changes angle of the sun's rays brings to the north window during the summer.
Plants grown continuously on windowsills should be given a quarter turn each week so that they won't become one-sided as a result of growing toward the light which they will do whether it is filtered or not.
For reasons of health as well as for the sake of appearance, plant grooming is a necessary part of plant care.
Remove faded flowers. Use scissors to cut the stem all the way back to its point of origin on the plant. Bare unsightly stalks remain if only the flower head is removed. Blossoms on coleus seem to detract from the beauty of the foliage. Caladium blossoms are curious but draw strength from the plant better used for production of the striking foliage for which the plant is grown.
There are exceptions, of course, to most rules. The tiny withered flowers of Jerusalem cherry must be allowed to mature so that the fruit will develop; so too with ornamental peppers. Don't cut off the flower of lemons or calamondin oranges. And you may be interested to see the ornamental red berries which follow the Chinese evergreen blossom.
Leaves that have been frayed or discolored do not contribute to the health or appearance of a plant and should be removed.
Keep indoor plants dust-free. Large leaves can be wiped with a cloth dipped in clear water, or a large plant can be showered at the kitchen sink or in the bathroom. Cover the soil surface with plastic or foil to prevent wet soil from splashing out of the pot. Plants with hairy leaves, such as African violets, can be dusted with a soft brush - a water color brush or old toothbrush. Misting violets also helps to remove dust, but a spray is taboo.
This is a good time to clean your pebble trays. Wash the pebbles in a solution of one part household bleach to nine parts water; rinse with clear water. Scour the trays if there is a crust of accumulated fertilizer salts.
Don't allow fallen petals or leaves to accumulate on soil surface or on pebbles in trays. Besides being unsightly they can contribute to growth of mold.
Provide for some ventilation occasionally from an open window or air movement from a nearby fan to reduce the possibility of fungus and mold growth.
Don't neglect the plants that are summering outdoors. Life outdoors in fresh air and sunshine is not a substitute for "three squares a day" for houseplants confined to post. A monthly feeding of a balanced houseplant fertilizer, following manufacturer's instructions, should be part of your routine. Rapid-Gro and Miracle-Gro are two good water-soluble fertilizers. An occasional brisk spray from the garden hose will remove insect pests as well as clean the foliage.
Keep an eye out for free-loading pests. Control them before they get the best of you and your plants by hosespraying or picking them off. By keeping a step ahead of the bugs this way, you can avoid the use of pesticides.
Hanging baskets constructed of moss on wire can be sprayed or dipped in a bucket of water. This practice is important, because it is difficult to remoisten moss that has dried out.