Your renovated home looks fresh and alive, but there’s still something missing – lush and thriving greenery. Choosing the houseplants at a home center or nursery may be easy but making them thrive in your environment requires a little know-how. Although these rules may seem complicated at first glance, they are actually pretty straightforward.
Most of the popular plants that people keep indoors are from tropical climates, which means they don’t respond too well to draught. If you keep your plants near a draughty window, you’ll want to relocate them, especially during the winter months. However, if you can’t escape draught, consider plants which are highly draught-tolerant, such as the heart-leafed philodendron, wandering Jew and any of the cacti family.
Home centers and plant nurseries offer a variety of soil brands. The best option is to choose a well-draining blend that is still able to hold moisture. If the soil lets out too much water into the plantar plate, it’s less likely the plants will be able to use it. On the other hand, if the soil retains too much water, you’re risking root rot.
If soil becomes compacted, there are several things you can try. First, use a chopstick and lightly break away the soil. You can also use eco-friendly soap and water mixture to water the plant. If this doesn’t work either, you’ll need to gently remove the soil from the root and replace it with new soil. If the soil is too compacted, it prevents the movement of water, nutrients, and in some cases, even root growth.
Unlike plants in an outdoor garden, where nature provides rain and minerals, houseplants depend on the amount of nutrients available in the pot. Most commercially-available plants aren’t high in macro- or micronutrients, so they need to be compensated with fertilizers. General purpose fertilizers contain the basic macronutrients, each with a special function – nitrogen for healthy foliage, phosphorus for root and potash for bigger healthier blooms.
Sunlight is an essential component of plant growth. Even low-light tolerant plants, such as Sansevieria a.k.a. snake plant, need indirect, medium light to thrive. However, if you lack natural light, you need to use artificial grow light. Although almost any light can enhance plant growth, not all the types of light provide the best conditions. Incandescent bulbs were once considered the cheapest solution despite the huge amount of heat they dissipated. Today, contemporary Philips light bulbs include halogen and LED options that can simulate the ideal 5700K color of sunlight.
In winter months, indoor heating often drastically reduces humidity levels. Since many houseplants originate from humid, tropical locations, hot dry air comes as a shock. A portable or fixed humidifier is a good way of providing pleasant, humid air for both you and your plants. The ideal humidity is somewhere between 50 and 60 percent.
Many plants go dormant, however, not all of them go through dormancy in winter. Some succulent species, such as Senecio, prefer to go dormant in hot summer months. Know the seasons of your plants and make sure you provide less water to the ones that are going through a dormant period. Although a dormant plant can shed its leaves and may look dead, there are a few tests to determine if a plant is dormant or dead.
How often and how much you water your plant shouldn’t only depend on the season, but also other factors, such as the amount and intensity of light the plant gets. For example, hot, sunny and dry locations need more watering, than those in cool, low-light conditions. The same goes for bright vs. overcast days.
Instead of learning how to grow houseplants by trial and error, start applying some real knowledge. Following these tips can help you turn your home into a beautiful greenhouse, and before you know it, people will be asking you for advice.
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