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Basics for Houseplants

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By Edited May 9, 2014 0 0

Although there are many different types and species of houseplants, most of them have similar care requirements. The vast majority of houseplants are of tropical or semi-tropical origin. This means that they will thrive in warm, slightly humid conditions. Indirect sunlight is best, as most of these plants will burn in direct sunlight. For practical purposes, this means that indoors your plants will do best in front of a window with bright light, or under fluorescent lighting. Outdoor sunlight has more UV rays, so if you are placing houseplants on a porch or patio, you will want to make certain that they are indirect light or light shade.

Achieving the right level of watering for houseplants can be tricky. Because their roots are confined, it is important not to let them dry out completely. However, it is equally important not to overwater, as this can lead to mildew or root-rot. A good strategy is to water your plants when the soil is dry, but not so dry that the dirt is pulling away from the sides of the container. It is best to water very deeply, until water comes out of the container. This helps to flush out any salts that may be collecting in the soil from artificial fertilizers or tap water with high mineral content. 

Because the plants are growing in a finite amount of soil, it will be necessary to supply fertilizer regularly. Natural fertilizers such as compost teas or fish emulsions are to be preferred, but good results can be achieved with artificial fertilizers as long as proper measuring is observed. Overusing any type of fertilizer in an attempt to force growth risks foliage burn, and should be avoided.

In addition to a routine fertilizing schedule, you will also need to keep your plants free of pests. There are several types of parasites that plague houseplants, including spider mites and aphids. Mildew can also attack houseplants. The best strategy to handle pests is to have an offensive plan. Pests of all types are less likely to attack houseplants that are in good health. Any yellowing foliage or dying blooms should be removed routinely. It is also a good idea to give your houseplants a shower at least once weekly. This can be done with a gentle stream of water from a hose outside, or by placing the plants into the shower in the bathtub. This dislodges any pests that are trying to make the plant their home, and is also very healthy for the foliage of the plant. There are commercial products available to prevent and combat parasites, but they are rarely needed if good plant hygiene and care are followed.

Although these are good general guidelines to follow, it is always best to research the individual type of plant you have acquired in order to fully meet its needs. Houseplants are generally very adaptable, but may require specific conditions to show ideal growth or bloom.

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