Question: Every year I buy bouquets of roses for Valentine’s Day. It seems that many of them develop droopy flowers after only a few days. Any ways to avoid this problem?
Answer: Good news: there is an easy fix. Remove the roses from the vase, recut the stem and submerge the whole stem — including the flower and leaves — in warm water for 30 minutes. Clean the vase if needed, refill with fresh water and add floral preservative during this time. Recut the stems on an angle at the end of the 30-minute soak and place it back in the vase.
Q: I want to grow herbs indoors for winter. What are the best ones to grow? And I’d appreciate any tips to help increase my success.
A: Consider the herbs you often use when preparing meals and prefer using fresh rather than dried. Basil does well in a warm, draft-free location. Chives, parsley, mint, lavender and Rosemary prefer it a bit cooler. Rosemary and lavender can be a bit challenging and are not the easiest for your first attempt growing herbs indoors. Oregano, thyme and sage are good choices for indoor herb gardens. You may need to start these from seeds as many garden centers do not sell plants this time of the year. Or check the produce department at your grocery store. They often sell plants this time of the year. Grow the plants in quality potting mix, containers with drainage holes and a sunny window. Boost your success with the help of artificial lights.
Q: My lucky bamboo plant leaves are turning yellow. I am not sure if I am over- or underwatering it, or using the wrong type of water. Please help.
A: Lucky bamboo is a type of dracaena, not a true bamboo. It is often grown in a container of water but like other dracaenas, grows well in a quality potting mix. For those growing this plant in water, be sure to change the water frequently to increase your growing success. When growing this or any plant in potting mix, it is important to use containers with drainage holes to avoid waterlogged soil. Don’t allow the pot to sit in any excess water that collects in the saucer. This too can lead to waterlogged soil and root rot. Placing a layer of pebbles in the saucer to elevate the pot above this excess water is a great way to solve the problem and reduce maintenance. Water thoroughly so the excess water runs out the drainage holes. Wait until the top inch of soil is dry before watering again. A visual examination of the roots can help you determine if the plant is being over- or underwatered. Remove the plant from its container several days after you water. If the roots are slimy, prune these out, use fresh well-drained potting mix and a clean container just slightly larger than the remaining root system. If the roots are brittle and dry, you may be underwatering or over-fertilizing. Do not fertilize indoor plants during the winter or when stressed, as this can be harmful. Dracaenas are sensitive to the fluoride and chlorine in the water. This can cause tip browning, so if this is also an issue, consider using distilled water, melted snow free of deicing salt or rainwater.