Indoor plants are not only aesthetically beautiful they also purify the air and give you a sense of wellbeing. Many have said that it is difficult to keep house plants alive, but the truth is that as long as you follow a few simple rules, you should not have a problem. All you need to keep your indoor plants healthy and thriving is sunlight, water and nutrients. There are some plants that require a lot of attention and it is best to avoid these, but generally most house plants are easy to care for. You can determine which plants are suitable for your particular environment by doing some research online. Choose plants that are easy to maintain and find out what each individual plant thrives on before you purchase them. Once you have decided on what type of plants you want, make sure that they are healthy specimens and inspect them for any possible sign of disease before taking them home. Easy to grow plants like geraniums, palms and succulents all require different positions and watering routines. It is always best to understand what your plants need so that you can give them the best possible care.
Pots and Containers
There are many different types of containers available to purchase. What you buy will depend on your style and off course your budget. Whatever you choose make sure that there are holes at the bottom of the container that will allow proper drainage. The size of the container should be in proportion to the size of your plant and have adequate space for your plant to grow. You will also find lightweight containers that are made of plastic or fiberglass that are easy to move around, and heavier clay or wooden pots that absorb more moisture, leaving less for the plants. Whatever you choose make sure that you make the proper adjustments when watering.
You can buy decent potting soil from any garden centre. Avoid using soil from your garden as this can be infested with disease and ruin your plants. The soil should be a light mixture of organic matter, vermiculite and peat moss. This combination is suitable for most indoor plants except cacti and succulents.
Which Plants are suitable for your home?
If you have done your research you will have a good idea on which plants will thrive in your home. The garden centre will also have staff that can advise on which plants are suitable and easy to care for. Try not to combine different plants in the same pot unless they have the same requirements for sunlight and moisture. Thoroughly check the plants for disease and make sure that you pick up healthy specimens. Ornamental flowering pot plants are usually annuals and only last for one year, then you have the type of plants that will grow so large that you will eventually have to plant them in your garden. Spring blooming bulb plants also flower for a season and then lay dormant until the following year, in which case you could replant them. Ask for assistance to determine which plants will produce flowers and which do not as they have different moisture and sun requirements.
Get your containers ready
Prepare your containers by putting some stones at the bottom of the pot. Before filling with sand cover the hole with a broken shard or filter of some sort to prevent the potting soil from washing out but not prevent excess water from draining out of the pot. The pot should have good drainage and be big enough to accommodate the plant comfortably. Knead the mixture of the potting soil with your hand and add water slowly as needed. Fill the container around halfway so that the plant can sit with enough space around so that when completely filled the soil will just cover the top. Pat down the soil to eliminate any air pockets.
Pot your plants
Wet the soil of your bought plants at least an hour before to make it easier to remove for planting. Gently remove the plant from the container intact with the soil around the roots and place in the prepared pot. Using handfuls of the potting soil fill up the container and secure the plant in the pot. Water the plant to settle the roots into their new space. Clean your pot and take inside. For large plants that have pots that are heavy you should place the pot were it will stand and plant it indoors.
Which is the best position for your plants?
Houseplants do not do well near air conditioning units, radiators or televisions. For plants that require full sunlight place them in front of a south facing window. Avoid putting the plant in direct sunlight but do keep them were they can get a good amount of light. Variegated plants which have multicoloured leaves usually require more sun than the plain green foliage. Plants change their leaf orientation according to the position of the plant and do not like to be moved around a lot. It is also worth noting that air conditioning can reduce the humidity in the room and under these circumstances you can put some pebbles with water near the plant which will help keep the air moist. Plants will also benefit from a spray of water and in extreme conditions you might consider buying a humidifier.
Watering your plants
How often you water your plants will depend on the type of plant and also the seasons. Summer is the time of the year were you will need to water your plants more often. In very hot conditions you might even need to water twice a day in the early morning and evening. This is particularly true of very small plants and hanging baskets. Water your plants until the water starts coming out at the bottom to ensure that the plant has water down to its roots. Do not let pots sit in water as this will eventually cause root rot. If you are using a saucer or tray under the plant empty it out after watering. Plants with green foliage require more watering than plants with waxy or leathery leaves. All plants like to have moist but not wet roots, overwatering can be detrimental to your plants. Water the soil and not the leaves or flowers as this can cause fungus or scorched spots on the leaves. Check the soil with your fingers to determine if the plants need water, this is the best way to ensure that your plants are getting the right amount. Another rule is to use water that is at room temperature as too cold or hot, the water can cause damage to your plants.
Generally plants that are grown in containers indoors will require more fertilizing than plants in your garden. This is due to the frequent watering that can wash nutrients away. For healthy plants a water soluble fertilizer every couple of weeks is adequate. Follow the instructions on the package carefully in order to get the right dosage. Fertilizing should be halted during the winter months. Flowering plants require more potassium and there are specific fertilizers for these plants. Foliage plants need more nitrogen and micronutrients which can be added with the right fertilizer. Cacti and succulents do not require much fertilizing and they need to be kept relatively dry.
Maintenance and Pruning
It is essential to remove dried out blooms from flowering pot plants to encourage new growth, this is called deadheading. Occasionally your houseplants will benefit from a shower as dirt and grime does build up on the leaves. As long as the water is at room temperature and there is not too much pressure you can take them to the sink and shower them down. Smooth leafed plants can be wiped with a soft moist cloth or sprayed with a plant spay that you can purchase from any garden store. Never use a feather duster to clean your plants as this could transfer small mites. Pruning your plants is another important step of maintenance for your plants and it is best to read up on how to prune specific plants. This is to prevent the plants from getting out of control. Try to make sure that nobody pours tea or coffee or any other foreign matter into your plants. The sugar that will be released into the soil will attract insects, specifically flies.