Archive for the ‘Houseplants’ Category

The Ten Golden Rules for Houseplants

13 January, 2008

Everyone in my family has a green thumb, except me!  But with a little bit of help from this info I actually am getting better at it.  Hope you all find it as useful as I do.
 I don’t know where we got this info from but it is a keeper that is for sure.   1.     Don’t drown them! Roots need air as well as water; keeping the compost soaked at all times means certain death for most plants. Try to learn how to water your plants; watch them carefully to see how they respond.
Plants will fit four groups into concerning watering.
A)  Dry in winter plants. Desert cacti and succulents should be treated as Moist/Dry plants during the active growth season from spring to autumn. During the winter, the compost should be allowed to dry out almost completely.
B)  Moist/Dry plants. Most foliage houseplants belong to this group. The standard recommendation is to water thoroughly and frequently between spring and autumn, and to water sparingly in winter, letting the top 1/2-inch of compost dry out each time between watering. This drying out of the surface between watering is especially important during the resting period from late autumn to mid spring.
C)  Moist at all times plants. Most flowering plants are in this group. The compost is kept moist, but not wet, at all times. The standard recommendation is to water carefully each time the surface of the compost becomes dry, but never frequently enough to keep the compost permanently saturated.
D)  Wet at all times plants. Very few plants belong to this group. Water thoroughly and frequently enough to keep the compost wet, but not merely moist. Examples are Acorus, Azalea and Cyperuc. Always check the label on the plants that you buy to see what there own watering requirements are. 2.     Give them a rest. Beginners are often surprised to learn that nearly all plants need a rest in winter, which means less water, less feeding and less heat than in the active growing period. Nearly all-indoor plants need a dormant or resting period during the year, and this generally takes place in the winter. Some plant give unmistakable signs that they are at the end of there growing period and even absolute beginners can tell that the usual maintenance routine will have to change. The top growth of bulbous and tuberous plants such as (Hyacinth, Cyclamen, Gloxinia, etc.) dies down; the leaves of deciduous woody plants (Punica, Poinsettia, etc.) drop off. This is how you see the dormant period has arrived. But evergreen plant unfortunately give little to no signs as to when there period of rest is ended, but as mid winter approaches the duration of natural light is to short to support active growth. This is when they have there resting period and watering and feed should be reduced, the temperature should also be reduced otherwise the plant will suffer.
The appearance of fresh new growth in the spring is a sure sign that their resting period is over.
Always respect your plants needs for a resting period.
Accept the loss of temporary plants. Some popular gift plants, such as Cylamem, Chrysanthemum and Gloxinia will die down in a mater of weeks. You have done nothing wrong – these types are flowering pot plants that are only temporary residents in the house.
A lot of temporary plant life can continue either in the garden or by following a set resting pattern.
4.     Give them extra humidity. The atmosphere of a centrally heated room in winter is as dry as desert air. Learn how to increase the air humidity. Two simple method are, either to place a bowl of water on or very near the radiator so that it evaporates creating humidity or to fine spray the plants every day or so, but be careful not to over wet the plants. 5.     Treat trouble promptly. For experts or beginners trouble will strike at some time. One or two scale insects or mealy bugs are easily picked off; but an infestation may be incurable. Over watering, is not fatal at first, but kills when prolonged. Learn how to recognize the early signs of trouble. 6.    
Group them together. Nearly all plants look better and grow better when grouped together. Try out different arrangements of your plants and make note of which plants enhance the beauty of others, bearing in mind that in different rooms there will be different amounts of light and each plant may have different needs. Remember to take into account the needs of each plant especially if planting them together in a tub, make sure they are needs compatible, i.e. water, light and feed. 7.     Learn to repot. After a year or two, most plants will need to be repotted, signs are that they are simply too big for the current pot or they begin to look very sick and struggling to grow. If there is no other, reason for them to be unwell it very likely that they just need to be repotted. We will cover this as a topic in its own right a little later on. 8.     Choose wisely. The plant must be able to flourish in the home you provide for it. Even the expert cannot make a shade loving plant survive in a sunny window. 9.     Have the proper tools. Buy a watering can with a long, narrow spout and a mister for increasing humidity, reducing dust and controlling pests. You will need a reputable brand of compost and a collection of pots, plus stakes and plant ties or string. Drip trays to keep water off furniture, a bottle of liquid fertilizer and a safe pest killer will help keep the plants looking healthy. To compliment your tool kit, include a soft sponge, an old kitchen spoon or fork, a leaf gloss aerosol and a pair of small sized sectors. 10. Check the plant’s specific needs.  Always check the labels on the plants you buy.  Ask at the garden shop to see if that plant you want will go where you want it to go.  Buy a small reference book to help you learn about the plants you want.