Gardening

House plant care

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potted pink flower
With proper care, house plants will fill your home with color and life
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House plants are a great way to bring the outdoors in and add beauty and warmth to any environment. To make sure that your plants continue to bring you enjoyment and remain healthy, taking care of your plants is imperative.

Most potted plants raised in greenhouses enjoy an optimum growing environment in the early stages of life. Upon purchase, most of these plants will be healthy however, disease and insect infestation can occur so it is wise to place a new plant away from existing house plants for a period of one to two weeks. Plants need time to adjust to their new surroundings, usually a few weeks, and during this period of acclimation leaves may turn yellow or drop off altogether. In order to keep foliage healthy the plant should be kept relatively cool to minimize water loss. Note that fertilizer should not be used while the plant is adjusting to new light and humidity conditions.

Re-potting is often necessary when bringing a new plant home as well as when larger plants outgrow their current container. This is best done when the plant is actively growing, usually in spring and early summer. If the plant has roots growing through the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot or if roots appear on soil surface, it is probable that it is outgrowing its pot. Another indication that a new pot is in order is if new leaves are smaller than normal or are wilting between regular waterings. It is important to remember that if a plant is placed in a container that is too large, the soil will remain wet resulting in poor growth and root rot. Placing a plant in an appropriately sized container is an imperative part of proper house plant care. When re-potting, be sure to use disease and pest free potting mixes in a mix of one-third soil, one-third peat moss and one- third perlite or vermiculite, both of which work well for most house plants. Some plants require specific soil types so check the plastic tag that comes with the plant to find what will work best. Note that using soil from your garden is not recommended as it harbors disease and insect organisms. To ensure that your soil is suitable for plant growth, there are many ways to test your soil to be sure that you will have maximum growth.

One of the most important factors in house plant care is proper watering. Potted plants will suffer from too much water as well as from too little; a delicate balance is required. While a weekly watering is considered sufficient by many, the best way to determine when to water is to test by placing a finger in the soil to a depth of two inches. If the soil is dry it is time to water the plant.

Make sure to use water that is room temperature and soak the soil thoroughly allowing excess water to drain through the pot. Do not allow the plant to sit in the run off that collects in the saucer, as excess water will be absorbed. Note that plants grown in unglazed, porous clay pots need to be watered more often than those grown in plastic ones. The general rule of the green thumb is that you should water your plants according to need, not according to the calendar. If in doubt, check for the plants individual requirements and water accordingly.

Proper light is an essential part of house plant care. Most plants do best in bright light although some can tolerate moderate to low light conditions. Be careful not to expose house plants to more than sixteen hours of sunlight and note that plants in bloom should be kept out of direct sunlight since flowers will heat and collapse more quickly. Maintaining a comfortable temperature is an important factor in house plant care. Between sixty-five and seventy-five degrees with night temperatures five to ten degrees cooler should be sufficient. Avoid extremes such as hot air blasts from vents or cold air drafts from the outside.

Proper house plant care will ensure that your indoor plants enjoy optimum conditions for healthy growth.

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