Successfully growing house plants - tips and hints


House plants are used to decorate and sometimes to divide rooms. They add a splash of colour on grey miserable winter days. Additionally they increase the energy in a room. In Feng Shui it is considered that plants encourage health, wealth, prosperity and contentment. According to NASA plants can clean the air of harmful pollutants.

The healthiest indoor plants are those that receive full sunlight. If lack of light is an issue move your plants either permanently or on a regular rotation basis. If neither is possible you need to place a fluorescent light near the plant and leave it on for about 12 hours a day. The light needs to be about 350 mm (a foot) away from the plant. There are special lights available that imitate the sun just for this purpose.

Indoor plants are sensitive to heat, cold and humidity so you need to be sensible in this regard. Don't leave your plant near a cold draught in winter. If you have a heater on in the room you may need to provide extra moisture for your plant. Providing sufficient moisture is a very important criterion in growing healthy indoor plants.

If your plants are suffering from yellow leaves or are losing their leaves then lack of humidity may be the problem.

The humidity needs to be between 50 and 70 percent for most indoor plants. Plants actually produce a certain amount of humidity themselves so grouping them together helps. However it may be best to set up a tray with pebbles in the bottom such that water can be poured into the tray and the pot plants can sit on top of the pebbles. Spraying your plant with water each day is helpful too. If your plants have fuzzy soft leaves then spraying with water should be omitted.

Water the pot when the top 2 cm. (one inch) of the soil feels dry. Add water until it just starts to run out through the drainage holes into the saucer. Don't over-water or let the plant sit in water or it will rot. When watering indoor plants use water that is at room temperature - not cold-tap temperature. Run your water into a bucket and let it reach room temperature before using it.

The leaves on your house plants will need to be refreshed so wipe them with cotton balls soaked in water or milk. You can keep the leaves shiny by using caster or mineral oil on them. Wipe over the leaves with a soaked cotton ball.

Once a year gently tip your pot plant out so that you can inspect the root system. If the roots are very crowded you need tore pot the plant in a bigger pot. Some roots can be carefully trimmed back in this exercise.

If your indoor plants are suffering from brown tips on their leaves the cause may just be the water you are using. Our tap water generally contains fluoride and chlorine. Try leaving out a bucket of water the night before you intend watering. Letting the water stand for a few hours enables the chlorine to dissipate. This may help the brown tip problem. The other reasons may be too much water, too little water or too much fertilizer.


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