Houseplants can bring a feeling of nature into your home when the weather and temperatures turn inhospitable to gardening outdoors.
Research shows that having houseplants in your home, office, or classroom can reduce stress and anxiety and boost productivity. There are several varieties that purify the air, as well. Rubber plants, ficus, Boston ferns, and spider plants are among some of the proven air purifying plants that are easily available.
Once you have chosen a houseplant to call your own, consider where in your home it would do the best. The intensity and direction of light is a big one to consider when finding the right location for your houseplant.
Your home or office has different light intensities depending on window location. A south facing window has the most hours of bright light, while a north facing window has the least. West and east windows would be considered medium light with the west window having a few hours of direct bright light. Place your bright light plants in the south, east or west facing windows and low light plants on the north.
Bright light plants include ficus, orchids, begonias, herbs, coleus, most succulents, and geraniums. Low light plants include pothos, philodendron, snake plant, dracaena, peace lily, zz plant, and lucky bamboo. If your space has no natural light at all but has florescent lights such as in an office, then many of the plants listed as low light can still do reasonably well.
These lists are definitely incomplete. Most houseplant tags will tell you recommended lighting conditions for a specific plant.
Don’t leave a houseplant in the pot it came in for very long after purchase. Most of the time they have started to become rootbound and need a bigger pot in order to continue to grow.
Make sure your pot has good drainage. Overwatering is, in my opinion, the number one killer of houseplants and succulents. When watering your plant, remove the drain saucer and let it drain in the sink. This will keep excess salts from building up in the soil. If your plant has started to develop crusty brown edges or tips, salt burn is probably the culprit.
Fertilize with 1/4 strength liquid houseplant fertilizer every time you water.
Rotate your houseplant every time you water. If you have a badly leaning plant, rotation can correct it. Start with a 1/4 turn every time you water then gradually get to 180 degrees over time.
Be aware of toxicity of some plants if you have pets or small children. Again read tags to find out this info. Some common toxic plants are peace lily, pothos, dieffenbachia, and philodendron.
Insect infestations common to houseplants are fungus gnats, spider mites, and mealybugs among others. To control fungus gnats (tiny little flies seen flying and crawling around the soil) simply sprinkle mosquito controlling bits around the soil or mix into the soil when repotting. When watered in, the Bt is released. It is not toxic to people, plants, or pets.
To control spider mites (tiny white spider-like bugs that create webs) first quarantine the infected plant. Spray or wipe off as many of the mites as you can. Spray the foliage evenly and completely with Neem oil or insecticidal soap. Tops and bottoms of leaves. Mealy bugs (white, cottony, and waxy looking) often infect succulents and some other plants. I found the best control for succulents is to dip a q-tip in rubbing alcohol and gently wipe away the white cottony looking bugs. You will have to repeat a few times until the problem is controlled.
Most of all, inspect your plants before you bring them into your home. If you notice an infestation, quarantine the plant from your healthy plants and act right away on a method of control.
Fungal problems often start from overwatering or excessive moisture in the air and lack of air circulation. Fungal disease can often manifest as spots, sooty black or white mold, black rotting stems or leaves. Make sure you have proper soil drainage. Only water when you stick your finger down into the soil and its dry. Don’t allow leaves to become wet or stay wet.
As always, feel free to email questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org and don’t forget to follow me at @patagoniaplants on Instagram or Facebook.