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South Williamsport, PA
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Introducing: Spring Gardening and Planting

Introducing: Spring Gardening and Planting
My Spider Plant has almost doubled in size in less than a year!

Let me tell you, Charlie and I are so excited about the BRAND-NEW special section in the paper this week. We are introducing our Spring Gardening and Planting section that you can find on pages 28-33. In this section, you’ll find everything you need to get started this gardening season! Charlie and I both enjoy

Let me tell you, Charlie and I are so excited about the BRAND-NEW special section in the paper this week. We are introducing our Spring Gardening and Planting section that you can find on pages 28-33. In this section, you’ll find everything you need to get started this gardening season!

Charlie and I both enjoy plants, though he leans more toward outside gardening while I am more of a houseplant person. The upside of this is he does all the prep-work for the tomatoes and peppers I’ll plant in a few weeks, and in return, I give him cuttings of plants I’ve propagated.

I’ve written in the past about my struggles with houseplants. The number of houseplants that I have killed is more than a little ridiculous.

I’m not sure what made me give having plants one last go, but I’m thrilled that I did. My plant babies make me happy. They brighten my home and make it healthier, and taking care of them — figuring out each one’s needs — is fun and interesting. I’m constantly learning since each plant needs individual care — and love!

I finally feel comfortable enough to offer a small amount of advice and insight for the beginner. Keep in mind, I am still learning myself, but these are some tips and tricks I have learned in the last year. I’ve had some mishaps along the way (there is a serious learning curve to keeping houseplants thriving in the winter), but for the most part, I’ve done a good job keeping everyone healthy — and alive!

We all know the basics that we need: watering can, appropriate potting soil, and planters with drainage, but there are few other ‘tools’ that have helped me out along the way.

Let’s start with the best thing that I have purchased since I started collecting plants — a moisture meter! A moisture meter can be invaluable in judging whether your plants actually need to be watered. You just stick it in the soil (all the way to the bottom of the pot), and it will let you know if your plant is dry enough to need water. Sometimes it may seem like they do on the surface, but there is actually plenty of water left deep in the soil. Over-watered plants tend to get root-rot, which can be a lot more challenging to overcome than an underwatered plant. It’s almost always better to err on the side of dry.

I also invested in a thermometer/humidity gauge. See, most houseplants are tropical plants. They need humidity to thrive. Being able to track how much moisture is in the air, and add more when needed, probably saved many of my plants from dying over the winter. I just used the basic humidifier I already owned to help through the cold, dry months. You can also use that essential oil diffuser you have sitting on your tabletop. I just recommend not putting any oils in it.

The last of my ‘must-haves for plants is neem oil. Neem oil will help keep plants from getting fungus, overrun with things like fungus gnats and spider mites, and keep plant leaves shiny! Every new plant I bring home gets a thorough dousing of neem oil just to be safe from infestation!

Now, let’s talk about plants. The fact is some plants are just easier to care for than others.

If you are just starting out, some gorgeous plants are available that are really easy to take care of.

One of the easiest is the Snake Plant. Or really anything in the Sansevieria family. They do great in low light and don’t require a lot of attention. I water mine maybe once a month during the summer, every six weeks or so in the winter. You want to make sure that the soil is pretty much bone dry all the way to the bottom and then give them a good soaking. When they are happy, they will produce ‘pups’ that you can then propagate and grow into new plants too!

Pothos are also really pretty plants. They come in many stunning varieties (looking at you, Marble Queen, and Pearls & Jade) that are super easy to take care of. Much like the Snake plant, they do well in lower light or bright indirect light (but not direct) and don’t require a lot of water. The only caveat to pothos tolerating low light is if your pothos is highly variegated (like the Marble Queen) — particularly variegated with white. They may either not grow as well in low light or may lose their variegation if the light is too low. Only the green parts of the leaves can make energy for the plant, so it must be able to get enough light for energy, or its growth will slow, or the leaves will compensate for the lack of light by becoming more green.

You can also easily take cuttings of pothos for propagation to produce new plants. They can be propagated in both water and soil and can also live in either.

Do you know someone who owns a spider plant that is older than their kids? We all seem to! These houseplants are a classic for a reason. These lovelies can get big and beautiful and are fairly easy to care for. This plant can grow in a wide range of conditions and suffers from few problems other than brown tips. Provide them with well-drained soil and bright, indirect light, and they will flourish. Water them well but do not allow the plants to become too soggy. I usually let mine dry out a bit between waterings.

Spider plants can be easily propagated through division of the mother plant or by planting the small spiderettes.

Be sure to check out the Spring Gardening and Planting section for lots more tips and advice! There are so many greenhouses and gardening centers that carry everything you need to raise happy, healthy, and thriving plants and gardens too! They are also happy to offer help and advice to get you started or make you an even better gardener or plant parent!

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