CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- In his article about bringing in houseplants in this week's Real Dirt newsletter, public radio gardening guru Ken Druse created a pruning quandary for me.
"As you bring the plants indoors, take a good look at them. Cut away any dead leaves," Druse says.
I can go with that.
Then he continues.
"Resist the urge to prune them back or repot the plants unless they dry out every day. You don't want to promote new growth in the lower light conditions. You will be able to prune and repot the plants in late winter."
My dear, dear friend Kim gave me several large houseplants when she recently downsized. One is a vinelike plant that has gone quite crazy on my back patio. It's been covered with neat little white and reddish-purple blooms all summer, but now it's winding down and looking a bit spent. I was going to whack it back (Kim said this is OK!), but Ken says differently.
So, thanks to the power of Facebook, I sent a message to Kim. Seems I had forgotten the name of the plant, so I couldn't look up care instructions.
Kim connected me to www.plantcare.com and nicely reminded me that the plant's a bleeding heart vine (Clerodendrum thomsonae). The website calls it a woody climber that submits well to the constraint of a low trellis.
Here's the part that I was interested to know -- the care instructions:
"Mist frequently with warm water (lime-free to avoid leaf staining). Place pebbles or gravel in the drainage dish to hold water and increase the humidity, make sure the pot is sitting on the gravel and not in the water. Rest and prune the plant during the winter season."
So I'll be pruning.
Sorry, Ken. I think you're brilliant, but on this one, I'm taking advice from my friend. I've found through years of gardening that even the rules from the experts are open to interpretation.
However, I will follow this bit of advice from Druse for those homeward-bound houseplants: