Properly Caring for your Houseplants
Houseplants are a great addition to any home. They allow you to bring the beauty of nature inside. Unlike outdoor plants, houseplants, when cared for correctly, really aren't hard to take care of, there are just five main things you need to be aware of.
- Light. Light is an important part of growing any type of plant. Without light, the plant will starve and die. Therefore, the placement of your plant is critical. If you decide to place your plant on your windowsill, remember these facts. If your plant is placed on a North windowsill, it will receive no direct sunlight, but enough for most foliage plants. In the winter time you might need to provide some extra light. Placing it on an East windowsill will allow the plant to "cool" off in the morning sun, which is a great growth promoter. South windowsills are the brightest and it might be too sunny for a plant to be there in the summertime. Finally, the West windowsill is excellent for growing because it receives a lot of sunlight as well, however, your plant might need a break from that much sunlight every once in awhile.
- Temperature and air. Most plants do their growing at night. While they need their light to grow, plants also need a cool, dark period to prosper. Temperature needs vary by plant, but on average, houseplants enjoy temperatures ranging from 65 degrees Fahrenheit to 80 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 55 degrees to 65 degrees Fahrenheit at night. Today, most homeowners tend to maintain a constant temperature, averaging around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Most plants will adapt to this temperature, but some flowering plants cannot set new flowers without cool evenings. As always, read the plant label for its specific requirements.
- Water. Overwatering is the most common cause of plant death. You always think your doing your plant a service by giving it a lot of water, but plants don't need as much as you think they do. The best way to test if your plant is in need of water is to stick your finger into the soil to a depth of about 1-1.5" inches and see if the soil is wet or dry. It's best to water generously every couple of days instead of water a little bit everyday. This ensures that the water gets down to the roots of the plant.
- Soil. Plants are pretty resilient, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't still try and give them the best growing environment possible. When growing plants inside, splurge and buy soil from the store instead of digging it up from outside. Soil from your garden could contain fungi, bacteria, insect eggs, or weed seeds that you won't want to be bringing into your house. Bagged soil from the store already contains fertilizer and other materials that will help keep your house plants healthy.
- Pots and repotting. The type of container your plant is in affects how often you should water it. For example, clay dries out more quickly than plastic since the material is porous. While this helps to prevent the soil from getting too saturated, it also means you have to water more frequently. If you want to go cheap, go ahead and buy a plastic pot, however make sure it has a drainage hole that will allow excess water and harmful salts to escape when needed. Any pot with a drainage hole will need a saucer underneath so that water doesn't get spilled everywhere. If the pot doesn't have a drainage hole, lay a 2-3 inch layer of pebbles at the bottom and be cautious when watering.
When you take care of your houseplants properly, they can provide beauty and enjoyment for years to come.