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Q:

How can I take care of my houseplants during the cooler weather and lower light conditions of autumn?

A:

Bring in any houseplants that you have summered outdoors when the nightly temperatures hover around 45 degrees. Before bringing them into their permanent indoor winter location, be sure to inspect the leaves for any signs of insects and/or diseases. Spray all surfaces of the leaves of most houseplants (except succulent types) with plain water or water mixed with an insecticidal soap solution to help rid them of any pests. Place them indoors where they can receive adequate light; supplemental lighting may be necessary. As growth slows down or even stops in some cases, do not fertilize again until early spring (except for orchids, African violets and certain other winter-blooming houseplants). Provide humidity by placing plants on a saucer and then on a tray of pebbles that are kept constantly moist. Water less frequently, but water deeply at each watering. Keep leaves free of dust by misting them and wiping them with a soft, moistened cloth. Check frequently for insects, remove them manually and apply insecticidal soap as needed. Every few months take the entire plant, cover the base and wash it down with a warm shower in the bathtub.

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