Finding a home for your plants — With cooler temperatures coming, Wichitans are advised to begin moving outdoor tropical plants indoors.
If you don't have room under your roof, consider donating plants to the Sedgwick County Zoo. The zoo will accept drop-offs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. today and Sunday in the administration parking lot.
Tropical plants, succulents and perennials in containers 6 inches or larger will be accepted. No annuals are needed.
If your plants are too big to drop off, call Pete Logsdon, tropical horticulturist, at 316-266-8313 to schedule a pickup. Zoo staff will pick up plants until the greenhouses are full.
The zoo uses the plants in a variety of places including the Jungle, behind the Downing Gorilla Forest and the Koch Orangutan and Chimpanzee Habitat.
Speaking of houseplants — One way to improve air quality inside your house is to buy houseplants that naturally remove chemicals from the air. Among the best for this are peace lily (Spathiphyllum), spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum) and snake plant (also called mother-in-law's tongue, Sansevieria trifasciata).
Controlling insect pests — Sound horticulture practices will have a big impact on maintaining healthy plants and limiting problems with insect pests, especially wood-boring insects such as beetles and caterpillars, says Ray Cloyd, entomologist for Kansas State.
"Horticultural practices such as watering, mulching, pruning, fertilizing and plant selection and placement — when properly performed — reduce plant stress, which is the major cause of most insect and mite pest problems," he says.
Here are some of his tips:
Watering: Providing too much or not enough water to plants in gardens and landscapes often leads to stress, thus increasing susceptibility to wood-boring insects.
Mulching: Proper mulching tends to moderate soil temperatures, conserves soil moisture, reduces competition from other plants, reduces weed populations, prevents soil compaction, and minimizes soil erosion. However, applying too much mulch or covering the plant crown prevents it from exchanging oxygen, and the plant suffers from asphyxiation. As such, this leads to plant stress and a higher likelihood of attack from wood-boring insects. It is recommended to keep mulch at least 2 inches away from the crown or base of trees.
Pruning: Proper pruning during the growing season generally involves removing dead, diseased, damaged, and weakened growth to maintain plant health and vigor. But excessive pruning during the growing season such as removing large portions of the plant canopy results in spurts of succulent growth that tends to be susceptible to insect pests.
Fertilizing: Similar to watering, over and under-fertilizing plants often leads to stress or the production of susceptible plant growth. Excessive applications of highly soluble nitrogen-based fertilizers results in the production of lush, weak growth that is susceptible to attack by insect pests (aphids in particular).
Conversely, plants unable to obtain sufficient amounts of nutrients are also more prone to attack by insect and/or mite pests because their natural defense system has been compromised.
Mums on display — Botanica is abloom with more than 5,000 mums in 17 varieties and various shades of bronze, pink, purple, red, white and yellow. Varieties will be in bloom now through the end of October. Mums will be for sale for $1 a plant from Nov. 5-13 during regular hours of operation.
Lunchtime lecture — Becky Walters, co-owner of Walters' Pumpkin Patch, will talk about how to use pumpkins, squash and gourds for fall cooking and decorating in a lunchtime lecture at Botanica, from 12:15 to 1 p.m. Wednesday. Included with membership or admission. Lunch from Truffles will be served from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. for $7.
Daylily club meeting — The Prairie Winds Daylily Society will meet at 6:30 p.m. Monday at Botanica, 701 Amidon. There will be a pot-luck dinner and the guest speaker will be Clint Barnes, a daylily hybridizer from Prairie Lace Garden in Hobart, Okla. Guests are welcome.