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How to care for Indoor Plants

28th August 2017



Be sure that your plants get light – Plants need light! Identify how much natural light is available (and needed) for plants, or whether it is possible to have an indoor ‘grow light’ placed next to the plant. 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 until it runs 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 accordingly. 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.

Watch out for plant pests – Some plants are less susceptible to insects than others. Plants with thin leaves tend to get spider mites and white fly, while others get scale or mealy bugs. Learn how to identify these pests and how to treat them. Mould and viruses can also affect plants, but they are less common.

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.

Water the plant when the pot is noticeably lighter than it was when it was watered last. Different plants have different watering requirements. Some plants can go for a couple of days without water, 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. Here are some examples of good houseplants for different situations:

  • Floor plants – Dracaena marginata (dragon trees), ficus (both the large and small-leaved varieties), sanseveria (mother-in-law’s 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.
  • Window and table plants – kalanchoes, cane-stem begonias, African violets, orchids (moth orchids are fairly easy, but only bloom once or twice a year; compliment them by surrounding them by attractive foliage plants), philodendron (sweetheart plant), maranta (prayer plants), Syngonium podophyllum (arrowhead plant), crassula (jade plant), zamioculcas and Beaucarnea recurvata (ponytail palm).

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