Cleanliness And Health Is Important To Plants

Cleanliness is important to a plant’s refreshing appearance and its good health. Washing or wiping leaves makes them look glossier and greener, and also prevents dust from clogging the pores through which they breathe. Small plants can be up-ended and swished up and down in lukewarm water containing a small amount of household detergent. Large vines (unless they are growing against an unwashable surface) can be misted or sprayed with water. Clean velvety leaves with a camel’s-hair brush. Wipe large, smooth leaves with crumpled tissue paper.

Also for attractiveness and good health, remove faded or dropped leaves or flowers as soon as possible. This is good hygiene, and helps discourage insects and disease. If the soil packs hard in the pot or basket, scratch it loose with a kitchen fork; remove any white or gray fertilizer salts that may have accumulated, or any green moss-like algae. Replace some of the soil on top occasionally, or mulch with peat or leaf mold.

Many vining plants will grow more compact, with fewer bare stems at the base, if the growing tips are pinched out to promote branching. Usually, removing the new tip growth causes the stem to divide into two branches; removing these tips when their stems are several inches long causes them to divide, and so on.

Many vines also need regular pruning to keep them from growing out of bounds, or to keep them in line with their decorative purpose. Foliage vines with lacy leaves should be thinned out so their delicacy and tracery effect is not lost in a morass of too-lush growth. Some varieties grow more vigorously, and all train more neatly, if weak growth is removed completely and the strength can go to the sturdier stems.

Training vines in the direction or pattern you want them to achieve is a continual but not time-consuming task. The lax tips of tendril climbers may need to be tucked back around the support; stem twiners like stephanotis plant will sometimes lean out from the cord or trellis and should be gently put in their place. Be sure to turn them in the direction they want to go – clockwise or the opposite.

Vine like plants with long, arching stems need to be tied to their supports before growth gets long and matted or tangled. Use soft string or cord, or well-covered wire, or even strips of nylon stockings. Attach the tie first to the support, then loop it around the stem. Don’t tie so tightly that the stem may be choked when it grows thicker.

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