a little “spring cleaning” for my indoor plants

Marian ParsonsAll Things Home, Gardening28 Comments

Just a quick bit of business first…  We were having some technical glitches with the Personal Retreat Guide for Creatives yesterday, but it’s working now.  If you were having that trouble, you can click HERE, enter your e-mail, click subscribe, and then you’ll get an e-mail to download the guide.  Sorry about that!

I noticed last week that some of my house plants were looking a little sad.  It wasn’t that they were unhealthy, but they needed to be cleaned up a little…trimmed, have the dead leaves shaken out, etc.  So, I took a little bit of time to give them a little “spring cleaning”.

Both of my indoor gardenia plants were holding onto a bunch of dried out and dead leaves inside their living foliage, so I took each one of them out on the deck and pick them all out.  I was nervous they would look naked after I did that, but they look fuller and healthier with the crispy leaves snagged and hanging out in their branches.

The gardenia topiary was looking very lopsided, so I pruned it into a nicer ball shape.  I also deadheaded faded flowers.  I’ve already had to repot this guy once, but I’ll probably have to do it again.

My rosemary topiaries were growing in all sorts of odd shapes, so I pruned them, even if it meant they were going to look a little scrawny for a while.

I didn’t have any plant stakes, so I tied them onto bar-b-que skewers!  It’s going to take them a while to look nice again, but they’ll be better topiaries for the pruning.  You can see how these rosemary plants looked last year in THIS POST.  They were just tiny little things.

It’s warm enough that they can hang out outside now and they will benefit from getting lots of sun and fresh air.

Now the funny thing about these is that the other day, Jeff walked into my office with a fistful (and I mean a big fistful of rosemary).  “Is this the right thing to put in my bone broth?”  At first, I was aghast at the fact that he just assaulted and mutilated one of my freshly pruned rosemary topiaries, but I realized that he just didn’t know I was intentionally trying to shape them into little balls on sticks.  He just doesn’t think that way.  Second, I realized he was actually looking for thyme.  Besides, using the amount of rosemary he had in his fist would’ve been more like rosemary tea than bone broth.

I directed him to the thyme plant on the kitchen table that I had just repotted, and asked him to leave my pathetic rosemary topiaries alone.

The thyme was clearly outgrowing its current pot and it was also ready to make the move outside.

And I added some citrus fertilizer to my lemon tree.  It has a few spider mites, so I need to clean it off with soapy water (which worked really well last year) and move it outside once it’s warm enough.  It’ll spend the summer outside, too.

I have loved having a lemon tree, but this one is a slow grower and instead of growing up, seems to be growing out!  I am considering buying one that looks like an actual tree to have in my studio.  I just don’t know if this one is going to grow very well.

See how it has four even stems instead of one main trunk?  Any ideas for fixing that?

Despite the slow and sideways growth, it has produced a few lemons!  I have felt like a proud mom watching them grow and then turn yellow.

I also gave all of the plants some indoor plant fertilizer, which I do regularly anyway, but this was a good time to feed all of them.

Now that we’re finally into mid-May, I’ll start working on the outdoor garden soon, but it was nice to give the indoor plants some attention and get them tidied up!

Today, I’m heading down to Florida to spend some time at the beach with Shaunna.  I cannot wait to get my toes in the sand and spend some much needed time collaborating and recharging my batteries…

a little “spring cleaning” for my indoor plants

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28 Comments on “a little “spring cleaning” for my indoor plants”

  1. Prune your lemon tree Cut off the lower branches and all the energy utilized to produce multiple limbs will force a strong ONE to grow…… A plant’tree especially a fruit tree must be pruned to grow stronger!

  2. Is that a plant or just a bunch of daisies in water on your kitchen counter ? If it is a plant what is the name ? Have a great trip !

    1. Oh, those are just a bunch of daisies! I was trying to show the myrtle topiary and that was the only picture I had.

  3. At least you can grow plants in your house! My house is too dark for much success partly because we are surrounded by huge pine trees. Jealous of those gardenias!! My lemon tree is planted outside and it isn’t a tree either. It is a HUGE shrub that makes a killion lemons. More than we can ever use but I love it! Enjoy Florida!!

    1. Yes, I do have beautiful southern coming through large windows in many rooms of our house, so I’m able to keep plants pretty well inside. I struggled more in my last house.

  4. When I saw spring cleaning I thought Miss Mustard Seed has the cleanest house ever but I see it was plants. I don’t know how you do it! Enjoy your time in the sun. It’s nice to reboot.

    1. Ha! Trust me, I don’t always have the cleanest house. My threshold for mess and dirt is pretty low, but I get fuzzy floors and need to do some deep cleaning now and then like everyone else.

  5. I have never used gardenias inside before but when I think about those in my garden & how they cope with a very shaded area then it seems obvious! I think I’ll buy myself a miniature one & see how it goes inside. Thanks for the inspiration.

    PS – I think that ‘Gardenia’ topiary in the image next to the bird painting & bust of a woman may actually be an Azalea?

    1. When I shared it before, some readers told me it was an azalea, but I have checked and it is a gardenia (I bought another one for my kitchen from the same place and it had the tag.)

  6. Being a plant Mom is fun but requires a bit of doctoring now and then….. Your gardenia needs fertilizing… notice all the new leaves are a light yellowish green with darker green veins? That’s how you know it needs some fertilizer for gardenias and other acid loving plants. If you can’t find one marked for gardenias, just get some that says “acid” or for “acid loving plants.” The leaves with green up and become dark and glossy. Enjoy your trip!!

    1. Thank you! I thought it looked like that just because it was new growth, but I will give it some acid.

  7. your lemon tree is doing what other fruit trees do to help them produce fruit – they want to (and need to) spread out so they get more light and have room for more fruit. If you train it into a pretty topiary it will not produce much fruit and what ot does produce will not grow well before it drops off

  8. Looks like an azalea to me too, and one that looks a bit chlorotic (yellow leaves with dark green veins). Perhaps some iron and/or acid fertilizer will help.

  9. To get the lemon to grow like a tree: Trees will grow like bushes if the center is cut back or the center branch breaks. It looks like this is what happened to your tree. To fix this, just add a stake and choose one branch to be the new leader, or highest branch, and tie it to your stake to keep it straight.

  10. Me too!!! …thinks it’s an azalea. Notice it does not have the glossy leaves that gardenia’s are known for. I can understand if that is what the tag said…but sometimes the tags get switched up . I guess you will have to give it the
    “smell” test…….ONLY the gardenia can smell so heavenly!!!

    1. Maybe they just tag them wrong? I’ve bought three of them and they were all labeled as gardenias.

  11. When you have left over tea or coffee water it down and “water” your acid-loving plants with it – it is a great way to add natural acid and not feel so bad you wasted yet another cup of expensive coffee or tea.

    ALSO looking at your lemon tree – well see that little unleafed center stick thing? Someone topped off the tree at one point perhaps? If the root shoot gets cut the tree or plant goes sideways with all that growth energy. My husband did that to one of my evergreens years ago and I kinda freaked out so he transplanted in the side garden and kept it trimmed and how it is a really cool extra wide nice looking topiary – but very big, if that makes sense – took a good few years to get it to look right, but I totally learned all about what happens to a plant when the root shoot gets cut.

    You have gorgeous plants. I am blessed with a sunny home too and my plants in and out are going great these days.

    Enjoy Florida – you’ve earned it and then some. Your fuzzy floors will wait for ya, haha. : – )

  12. When a plant has yellow leaves with dark green veins it is telling you it has a magnesium deficiency.
    Feed it with Epsom salts diluted in warm water. I have done this with my own lemon tree, and other plants and it works.

      1. Yes, it should be ok. Start out with a 1/4 to 1/2 cup Epsom salts diluted in one to two cups of warm water, then cool, depending on the size of your plant and the degree of the yellowness of the leaves. This amount will not over fertilize.

  13. I think the central leader on a fruiting tree is primarily cut to make the tree bushy instead of tall, making it easier to pick fruit. I think if you buy a dwarf variety, it will have been pruned that way. You are not going to get a traditional tree shape and be able to keep it as a house plant. When you are down in Florida, visit some citrus groves. Bay trees make pretty good house plants. They are slower growers than citrus and they have a different growth pattern, And you can use it for cooking.

    I find rosemary extremely difficult to tame into proper shapes. It’s natural growth tendency doesn’t cooperate. The healthiest rosemary I had was in California. I planted it outside and it grew to over 6 feet tall and just as wide. I wouldn’t say it was a “beautiful” bush but it provided us with a lot of rosemary for cooking, was a good landscaping screen, and was lovely when it bloomed.

  14. Thank you so much for your posts, Marian. They cheer my day. I too thought the ‘gardenia’ was in fact an azalea, so I did some searching to satisfy my own curiosity. Seems there is such a thing as a ‘hardy gardenia azalea’ – an evergreen azalea thus named because the flower looks like a gardenia. So everyone is correct!

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