Some tips for taking care of those Charlies in your house

I have two Royal Charlie houseplants but am not sure how to care for them. Do they need any special care?

— Yolanda

Charlies are fairly easy to take care of, but there are a couple of things to remember. First, they prefer bright, indirect light. The leaves can yellow and burn if they get too much direct sun.

They can take sunlight early in the morning or late in the evening before sunset, or sunlight through a sheer curtain. Just make sure that they get enough light. If the light you have them in is too dark, the plant will get pale and long and leggy.

The most common problem people run into is how often to water the plant. Creeping Charlies don’t want to stay wet all of the time. When watering, soak the plant well. There should be water coming out of the drainage holes every time. If you have a saucer under the plant, don’t allow the drainage water to remain in the saucer. Use a turkey baster to suck it out if you don’t want to move the plant, or just set it in the sink so the excess water can go down the drain.

After you’ve soaked it well, allow the soil to dry out a little bit before soaking it again. Most people get into trouble by watering too often. However, you don’t want it to dry out too much. I stick my finger down in the soil mix to check moisture. I like to let the top three-quarters to 1 and 
1 1/2 inches of soil dry out before watering it again. The bigger the pot, the deeper I’ll let it dry out.

Creeping Charlies like to be fertilized fairly regularly. They usually need less fertilizer during the winter than at other time of the year. Use a good houseplant-type fertilizer, such as Jack’s, once to twice a month.

I live in the Rangely area and dug some holes to plant trees this fall, but never got around to getting them in the ground. Is it too late to plant them this month?

— Terry

In truth, January is a great time to plant, but we usually don’t because the ground is frozen and it’s too tough to dig any holes.

Since you’ve already got holes ready, do the planting in the afternoon when things have warmed up. If you’re not sure how to plant a tree, come on by the nursery; we have a Garden Guide on trees that will show you how to do it. You can also get that same guide at

Make sure that you give the newly planted trees a good deep watering when you’re done. You probably should plan on watering them every month or so for the rest of the winter.


Spring, summer and fall, I have garden snakes around my house. I would like to know what I can use to get rid of them before they return next year.

— Roberta from California

The best product I could recommend is called Liquid Fence Snake Repellent. It’s a mixture of mint oil, thyme oil, garlic oil and egg solids. I’ve never used it, but we’ve had great success with some of the other products Liquid Fence offers.

Call around your local garden centers to see who has it.

Dennis Hill is the nursery manager at Bookcliff Gardens, Send questions to Bookcliff Gardens, 755 26 Road, Grand Junction 81506; or email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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