Caring for Your Houseplants




Although it is still too early to begin outdoor planting, you can still enjoy the benefits of plants indoors. Houseplants add serenity and beauty to your home. There is also the added benefit of cleaner, healthier air. Research by NASA for the space station has shown that plants can absorb harmful chemical vapors, including formaldehyde, benzene, and carbon monoxide. With a little luck, and these tips, growing healthy and hearty houseplants can be easy.

Place your plants in the sunniest parts of your home, especially in winter. If that is not possible, consider investing in artificial lighting that mimics sunlight. Placing a timer on your lights ensures that your plants get all the light they need every day. Keep your houseplants away from extremes of hot or cold, such as drafty windows, fireplaces, or heater vents.

Be careful about watering your plants too much. The number one killer of houseplants is over-watering. Although houseplants need plenty of moisture, too much water in the soil itself is harmful to your plants´ root systems. Only use pots with drainage holes. Use a tray underneath and always water just until water drains out the bottom.

Do not water every day. Plants prefer to dry out between waterings, and can go days or even weeks, until the next watering. How can you tell if you are not properly watering your houseplants? They may begin to wilt or look as if they are dying, with discoloration and/or dropping leaves. Check the soil moisture level by placing your finger an inch or two into the soil. If it is damp, your plant has probably been over-watered. Let it dry out before watering again. If it is dry, you may have gone too long between waterings. Water your plant and see if it perks up. In most cases, if it has not wilted too much, it can be saved.

Treat any signs of pest infestation-speckling or webbing on the leaves-as soon as possible. You may even be able to see the insects themselves. Remove them by hand, or use a chemical treatment.

Your houseplants can absorb air more easily the cleaner they are. Dust your houseplants regularly. If they become particularly dirty, give them a shower! Loosely pack the pot with crumpled newspaper to cover the soil. Wrap the whole pot and newspaper-covered soil with a garbage bag, using tape to secure. Place the plant in the shower and, using lukewarm water, completely clean the plant. If you´d like, you can use a very mild solution of dishwashing soap. Use a soft sponge or cloth and be sure to rinse your plant well after washing. Also be sure to clean the underside of the leaves, where pests are most likely to be found.


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