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Growing Wisdom

Spring is time to prune houseplants

April is when many plants undergo a growth spurt. You can see it on the trees outside, but also in your plants indoors. Houseplants tend to just sit all winter, but during the spring they resume growing. This is a great time of year to prune and clean up your indoor plants because they will have several months of growing and be strong and healthy this winter.

Plants need to have critical number of leaves to make enough food to survive. Some plants might only have 4 or 5 large leaves, but thatís enough. I have a bananas tree in the house I move outside every spring. Right now it has only 4 leaves and thatís enough.
Dracaena is a very common houseplant that tends to get a bit leggy as it grows. In other words, it drops its lower leaves and becomes very tall. Sometimes these plants can become top heavy and even fall over or reach the ceiling inside your home.

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Dracaena is a great plant for a lot of reasons on of which is it responds well to pruning. If you want to cut your plant back, April and early May is the perfect time. When you make the cut, try to see if you see a tiny little bud on the stalk of the plant around the height you want it. The plant will likely push out its new growth from this node. Donít worry if you canít see it, the dracaena is very tough and will push out new leaves over the next month or two.

While the plant has no leaves itís very important you donít overwater it. The plant needs some moisture, but will not use as much water without leaves. If you give it too much water the roots can rot. If you have a plant with multiple stocks, you could cut Ĺ the stocks this year and then half the following one. This will leave some growth on the plant.
If you want a great houseplant the dracaena is a good candidate. Its lower light requirements and ability to forgive you if you miss a watering cycle mean even a novice can grow them.

Other plants will also do well from a heavy pruning in spring. If you have a citrus plant these can be cut for height and/or shape now. Other plants such as an umbrella tree or camellia can also be heavily pruned.

When cutting any plants clean your tools between plants. If you do have a disease on one plant you donít want to spread it to another. This is especially important outside where fungus and other pathogens can easily travel on the blade of your cutting shears. I use Clorox wipes when I am making cuts outside and remove all residue form the steel as I am moving from plant to plant. This is a great way to keep the blade free of issues.

If you do have diseased plants you can try to treat them appropriately or see it as an opportunity to get a new one.

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