Guest Author - Susan Taylor
Ground cinnamon paste for wounds
Use a paste made of ground cinnamon and a common household glue, such as Elmer's, to cover and protect wounds on plants so that they will not become infected with fungi. This remedy is for badly damaged plants that you truly want to save after being damaged. The glue will form a protective barrier and the cinnamon acts as a fungicide.
All purpose cinnamon spray
Cinnamon can also be used in spray formula. Made a mixture of 30 ml of ground cinnamon with 500 ml of alcohol and mix it well. Allow the alcohol mix to steep overnight and then filter to remove the sediment. A coffee filter will do this admirably. Mix 250 ml of the resulting liquid with a liter of water and 10 ml of liquid detergent. Use this as a spray for insects as well as a fungicide.
Always follow the instructions on insecticides
Protect yourself and your plants when applying any kind of product. Some of these products are poisonous to humans or pets as well as to the pests you're trying to kill. Be especially careful if there are children around and only apply when they are not going to be in the vicinity. It is a good idea to wear protective gloves such as the latex gloves for dishwashing while applying insecticides even if the directions don't call for them.
Always throw away old potting materials
When repotting, always maintain a clear distinction between old and new potting materials. Throw away any old potting medium which may contain pests or eggs of pests. One good idea is to spread out old newspaper and fold up and dispose of old medium after it is removed as well as the top layers of paper. You will then have a good sterile environment to put the next plant on. Dip plants in insecticide as well as fungicide before repotting in clean medium and pots.
When you cannot spray plants
An interesting idea I came across the other day was instead of spraying plants, take a plant with insect problems and tie it up in a plastic bag with a new dog or cat flea collar. Leave unsealed in the shade for a day to kill insects.
To get rid of fungus gnats
To get rid of those annoying little fungus gnats put one of those mosquito larvae killing wafers in water in a bucket. Use this water for your normal watering. The insecticide in the water will take care of the larvae of the gnats which eat decaying matter in the medium.
Rotate vandas and sympodials
In order to get your Vandas and Ascondas to grow upward rather than to one side, rotate them a half turn once a month. This will encourage nice upright growth as well as give the inflorescence a nice presentation.
Color Coded Spray Bottles
Use different colored spray bottles for different kinds of sprays—one for plain water, one for fungicide, one for an insecticide, etc. Using different colors makes it more difficult to spray with the wrong thing. Most garden centers today offer different shape, size and color bottles.