Essential Care of Houseplants
The most important considerations when choosing house plants is that they will survive in our living conditions.
We must remember that many house plants naturally grow in warmer climates; hence we must be able to provide them with ambient growing conditions. I always say if it’s too hot or cold for your comfort, well don’t expect your plants to like it. What are the key elements for house plants to survive and flourish within a home environment? As a general rule, all house plants require water, heat, light and food.
When choosing house plants it is crucial that you consider the lighting conditions of where you would like to situate your plant. The light intensity required will ultimately be governed by the species of plant in question. Here are a few guidelines to help you make the right choice for your home. Ferns, Rex Begonias, Ivies like shade conditions and high humidity- a perfect choice for the bathroom. Plants that have plain green leaves will always require less light than plants with variegated leaves. Always place plants with variegated leaves close to windows where they can receive maximum light without been scorched. If the light intensity is not bright enough for variegated leaves they will darken down, and in poor light conditions, they will revert to dark green.
Feeding plants must surely be one of the biggest causes of fatalities with indoor plants. Like watering many people simply kill their plants with kindness by giving them too much feed. A simple fact is that you must only feed your plants when they are actively growing; this is usually from April to August when there are high levels of light coupled with warmer days. A few important points to consider when feeding house plants. Houseplants do not die from the lack of food, they will tell when they need feeding as the leaves will turn pale green-yellow and growth will be stunted. Too much feed will scorch plant roots or inhibit the uptake of water, hence will give the false symptom that the plant has died from drought. Contrary to many peoples belief, plant food does not cure plants suffering from over or under-watering.
Watering is the number one killer of house plants and that’s official! Usually, it’s too much water and this coupled with a cold environment is the sure way to kill even the toughest of house plants. In the garden centre we are always asked “how often should I water my house plants” followed by the words, “should I water them once or twice a week”? There is no simple answer to this question, as this will depend on many variables which are different according to the plant type and the environment in which they are grown. A simple rule of thumb is the warmer the room the more water your plants will require, and the cooler the room the less water they will require. Good watering is better than a little every few days. I always recommend that you allow plants to dry out between watering as this allows air into the compost, thus preventing the compost from been water-logged which is fatal to plant roots. When watering house plants always ensure water is at room temperature, thus preventing shock!
Heat is crucial to nearly all house plants as they naturally grow in tropical or warm countries where their growing environment never falls below 12- 16° C . But as with every rule, there are always exceptions, for example, cacti can survive the extremities of both cold and heat. House plants can tolerate cooler temperatures for short periods provided they are kept on the dry side.