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Are You Killing Your Houseplants with Kindness?

Dec 1, 2007
Possibly one of the key elements involved in houseplants health and success is an element taken for granted. All soil or potting mediums are not created equal. Houseplants will grow and live more prolonged lives if you select a true potting media and not a compost based soil mixture.

Composts are best used as organic amendments for outdoor soils. A good potting medium should stay porous and allow watering and fertilizing at an even and consistent rate.

Houseplants receive much less sunlight than outdoor plants, so plants that thrive in full or partial shade will be good choices. Try to select plants that develop tighter root systems and produce a smaller tighter foliage that is more easily accommodated by the space you will be allowing for it.

Remember that you must begin with fresh healthy plants. It will not be productive to bring in weak, deteriorated plants from your outdoor garden.

Inspect your plant for evidence of insect damage. Not only will this discourage rapid growth, but you may in fact be introducing unseen pests to your established plants. Wilted and yellowed leaves may be a sign of moulds and mildews or might simply reflect a weakened plant due to insufficient minerals.

Select pots that are large enough for the current root system and allow for some growth over the winter months. They should have drainage holes in the bottom. Many plants are drowned by excessive watering that is not allowed to drain away. Place a small dish underneath to capture any excess water that drains out.

When planting into the new container, don't be afraid to prune the foliage fairly aggressively. You need all available resources to be available to the root system. This is the base for survival. A good sound, well developed root system will be the key to establishing full foliage and flowering after the plant becomes well established.

Initially you may want to place the plant where it will receive maximum sunlight similar to it's original outdoor environment. You can then slowly move it into areas of less light if required.

Try to minimize exposure to cool window drafts and windowsills. Humidity levels can depleted during winter. If your heating system is not equipped with a dehumidifier, you may find occasional misting of the plant to be beneficial.

Locate plants to provide correct light and temperature exposures. Humidity can be maintained by adding a power humidifier to your furnace or placing a portable humidifier near the houseplants.

Keep in mind that if you place plants on a very cold windowsill that the cold will be transmitted into the plant's soil and will inhibit growth. A bench or small table with made from wood or materials that have a lesser tendency to transmit cold will allow the plant potting soil to stay warmer.

Water houseplants thoroughly so soil is saturated. Immediately remove water that accumulates in the drain tray as it would promote a build up of water soluble salts through evaporation.

It is best to let most houseplants become a bit dry before watering again. This slows plant growth during winter months, reduces plants' needs and compensates for lower humidity.
About the Author
For Houseplant Care Resources please visit Houseplant Care
For fertilizer tips goto Fertilizers Explained
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