Caring for your house plants

While last week we looked at the main points that you should keep in mind when shopping for house plants, this week we will look at a few tips which should help you to get the best from your indoor garden. While more and more people are growing house plants, many people are still very wary of investing in house plants because of their reputation as being difficult to care for. This reputation is not totally deserved. Many indoor plants are extremely easy to grow and a large degree of success and satisfaction can be obtained through a regular regime of watering and feeding.
   By far the most important aspect of caring for indoor plants is watering. While over watering remains the number one killer of house plants, plants which receive too little water will also soon deteriorate and die. There is no hard and fast rule covering the watering of indoor plants, but a simple test can be carried out using your index finger. If you insert your finger into the compost to the depth of your fingernail and the soil remains damp then the plant has sufficient water, if the compost is dry then water is required.
   If water is required, use a small can to add water until you see it coming out of the drainage holes in the pot. Allow the plant to absorb the excess water for a few minutes and then remove any that remains. If at all possible it is preferable to fill the watering can the night before, this allows the water to naturally come up to room temperature and reduces the shock to the plants system. Allowing the water to sit also removes much of the chlorine from tap water. In winter months growth normally slows down or stops totally in house plants, as a result of this it becomes more important to regularly monitor the moisture content of the plants so as to avoid over watering. Along with watering, it is usually a good idea to regularly spray the foliage of your house plants with a mist sprayer. This increases the humidity in the room and counteracts the drying effects of central heating.
   Along side watering, feeding is also a very important aspect of house plant care. Feeding should takes place whilst the plants are in the active growth season, from early spring to late summer. While some plants require specialist feeds as a rule, foliage plants should be fed with a nitrogen based fertilizer whilst flowering plants fare better on fertilizers with a high potash content.
© Copyright, Highland Landscapes, Letterkenny, 2008.