Household Headaches

By: Lisa McDivitt
By: Lisa McDivitt

I thought one solution to all this gardening work might be to bring spring inside with some household plants. But, it turns out these are more work than I realized. Read on to find out how to care for this finicky flora.

I met up with Dr. Curtis Swift, a horticulturist at the Colorado State University Extension program run out of the Mesa County Arboretum, and he took me through some of the common problems people might have when growing plants inside.


To begin, plants need to be adapted to the temperature in your home – so make sure you’re getting one that won’t die in the heat, or freeze to death in the cold.


Next, it’s all about the salt. If you underwater your plant, the soil will get saturated with the salt from our water, and this will dry out the roots and leave burn damage on the leaves. If you overwater your plant, its cells will get oversaturated and bloated, and this will show up on your leaves as rusty looking bumps. Check out the video on this blog to learn how to balance your watering routine.


And one problem that can occur when you overwater a plant is that fungus gnats will develop. The little flies you can see are nothing more than a nuisance, but the leave larvae in the soil, and in this stage they’re maggots that eat away at the root system, leaving holes that make the plant susceptible to disease organisms.


Dr. Swift recommends two larvacide products, both of which you can get locally, to ease your gnat problem. One is called “Knock-Out Gnats” and the other is “Gnatrol.” Mix the larvacide with water, and then water your plant with it. The larvae will absorb the solution and die off, and those little buzzy flies will disappear in about a week or two.


Well, that does it for Green Thumb Week, but spring is here for a while, so please keep me posted about your gardening adventures and advice. Also, if you want more expert advice, check out the CSU Extension program by clicking here.


Happy Planting!

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