How to Care for Indoor Plants

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House plants beautify your environment, purify air indoors, and create a naturalistic element to often sterile-looking office spaces. Because they grow and change, some people even view plants as companionable. They can be very easy to care for with a few tips to keep them healthy.

Be sure that your plants get light. Plants need light. See how much natural light is available and needed for plants . A window is an ideal place but make sure you have a saucer or tray underneath the plants to catch the drips from watering and condensation which often occurs at night on the leaves.

Water them as needed. Plants need water, but not too much nor too little. When you water, water it until you can see it come out of the bottom of the pot. Never put plants in pots that don’t have at least one hole in the bottom. Be realistic about how much attention you have to give to your house plants, and plan. Larger plants in large pots need watering less often than plants in very small pots, which will dry out every couple of days. Cactus and succulents need less watering than thin-leaved or flowering plants although when cactus produce flowers they need a bit more water.

Watch out for plant pests. Sometimes plants attract pests – insects that eat the plant and cause it to lose vigor. Some plants are less susceptible to insects than others. Plants with thin leaves tend to get spider mites and whitefly, others get scale or mealy bugs. Learn how to identify these pests and how to treat them by a soil-drenching systemic insecticide. Mold and viruses can also affect plants .

Use a nice pot. A decorative pot or planter that coordinates with the furnishings can really enhance the beauty of the plant. It helps the plant a lot if the pot or planter is on a tray with about an inch of aquarium gravel in it. When you water the plant, the water goes into the saucer and evaporates around the plant, making the surrounding air a bit more humid. This is especially helpful to the plant in winter. Make sure the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the pot, because if the pot ends up sitting in water, the plant’s roots will rot and the plant can die. Place a trivet underneath the tray so that the tray doesn’t sit directly on a wooden or painted surface. The moisture in the tray will cause condensation underneath it, and that can damage wood or painted surfaces.Water the plant when the pot is noticeably lighter than it was when it was watered last. Again, different plants have different watering requirements. Some plants can go for a couple of days dry, others, especially flowering plants, need a shorter interval of dryness. Few plants, with the exception of aquarium plants and papyrus, like wet feet for more than a day. Finding the right balance of moist versus dry is the challenge of keeping happy and healthy houseplants.

Know what will work best for you. Some good houseplants: Floor plants: Dracaena marginata (dragon trees), ficus (both the large and small-leaved varieties), sanseveria (mother-in-law tongue), spathiphyllum (peace lily), umbrella plants. Avoid bird of paradise, bamboo, palm trees and ferns unless you can provide very good light and high additional humidity year-round. Different plants do well in different climates.

• Only purchase healthy-looking plants. If a plant looks sick, it’s probably too late to save it, unless you already have a lot of experience in these things, or if it’s a very rare or valuable plant and know someone who is knowledgeable about them and can help advise you on its care and restoration to full health.
• Once you have success with some easy plants, try some harder ones: African violets or orchids, for example.
• Taking a damp washcloth once or twice a year to the leaves of large plants helps them look nice. Never apply any plant polish to the tops of leaves – that seals the pores and makes it hard for the plant to breathe.
• Rotate the plant every once in a while so that all parts of the plant get some light. Find a spot for the plant about twelve inches away from the window if it’s too hot or cold in the window. It’s ok to pull the curtains at night to keep your rooms warm; just remember to open them in the morning so your plants get their several daily hours of light!
• Unless your house is cold, try to get a plant that likes warm temperatures because if it likes cold temperatures then it won’t like your house temperature.


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