How to Care for Houseplants with Confidence

houseplantsThere’s no reason to limit your gardening to the outdoors.  Houseplants offer a great way to bring the color and freshness of plants inside.  They provide a chance to interact with nature even if it’s a cold, winter day.

Benefits of Houseplants

Houseplants are good for your health and can brighten your mood. Growing plants is known to have many therapeutic benefits. The act of caring for them gives pleasure and reduces stress.  Houseplants also appeal to our senses with their fragrant smells and varying textures.

Keeping the air clean is another key health benefit associated with houseplants.  They absorb pollutants and trap particle matter through their leaves.  Examples of good pollutant absorbers include spider plants, English ivy, golden pothos, philodendron, sansevieria and bamboo palm.  Spider plants have even been used by NASA to absorb formaldehyde on the space shuttle.

Despite these benefits, some people shy away from growing houseplants since they’ve had little success with them.  However, anyone can grow beautiful houseplants by following some simple techniques.

Tips for Success

1. Choose a healthy plant

Inspect a plant before you buy it. What to look for:

  • Healthy leaves – make sure they’re the right size and color. Also, look for brown leaf tips which may indicate that the plant is stressed.
  • Bug infestation – check the entire plant, looking at the underside of the leaves. Be aware of sticky mold and sticky honeydew which are symptoms of infestation. 
  • Good soil quality – check to see if there’s mold or fertilizer salt buildup on top of the soil. Also, a sour smell may indicate root or crown rot from overwatering.

2. Find the right spot

Choose the right growing conditions. Factors to consider include:

  • Amount of Light – always read the label when you buy a plant so that you know how much light it needs. For example, flowering plants and succulents need more bright light.  Also, the amount of light a room receives varies since the angle of the sun changes as the seasons change.  South windows may receive up to six or more hours of direct sun in the winter and only indirect light in the summer.
  • Climate & humidity – your plant’s climate will change with the seasons.  In winter, the humidity is usually lower and plants placed close to heating vents may dry out faster.  Place plants that need high humidity (Boston Fern) in the bathroom during the winter.
  • Temperature –houseplants need a temperature between 60 °F to 75 °F.  Watch out for spots with cold drafts (near a window) and excessive heat (fireplace area).  Extreme temperatures could affect the health of the plant.

3. Pay attention to your plant

Keep an eye on how well your plant is doing.  Houseplants need a little care so be sure to:

  • Water when needed – determine how much and often your plants need to be watered. Brown leaf tips are usually signs that the plant is getting either too much or too little water.
  • Ensure proper drainage – use a container with a drainage hole. You can always slip the container into a more decorative pot and have it rest on an inverted saucer (prevents plant from sitting in water).
  • Perform maintenance – remove dead leaves and spent blooms. Keep plants looking pretty and prune overgrown plants when necessary.  You may also need to transplant plants that are root bound and need a larger pot.
  • Assess health – look for symptoms of disease, including leaf drop, wilting, discoloration, etc. Treat bug infestations right away, using insecticidal soap.

Follow these tips and you’ll be able to care for your houseplants with confidence.  For more information about houseplants, contact Floral & Hardy of Skippack at 610-584-0797.