Sunday, January 3, 2010

How to Grow Healthy House Plants

Keeping your plants healthy during the spring and summer time is fairly easy, but even house plants can struggle during the winter. I often receive questions about:


Why does my houseplant look so bad?

Follow these simple steps and you too can keep your house plants healthy, big, and strong.


1. Toss out that glass bulb! They function best as a plant ornament and NOT an easy way to water your plant. The glass plant bulb does not slowly water your house plant as advertised. Nearly everyone I have met who uses a glass bulb has ended up with a dead plant! My mother included.

2. Change the soil and repot once a year: Hard water can calcify the soil - leaving a white crusty appearance on the soil surface. This is a sign of poor soil conditions. Changing the soil each year will promote healthy growth. My soil of choice is Miracle Grow Moisture Control soil.

3. Once a year - Toss out the old pot and plant in a slightly larger new pot. Not always necessary, but is a good idea. It lessens the chance of mold and fungus which can damage the root system. It also gives your plant room to grow. New soil is good for all plants, but it isn't always necessary to repot cactus due to their slow growth.

4. Potting Rule: Remember tera cotta (clay pots) are best for succulents and cacti, and plastic is best for all other house plants. While cactus is usually sold in plastic containers, clay is best because the material absorbs excess water and prevents any over watering. Never use metal containers! Metal containers rust and release toxins.



5. Fertilize with each changing season. My fertilizer of choice is Osmocote. It is a time released fertilizer. However, if you have small children I’d would advise against it, because the fertilizer is small and bead-like, and can be ingested.

6. Fertilizer alternatives: Do not use coffee grounds! Coffee has too much acidity and should not be used to fertilize plants. An excellent fertilizer alternative is water from your fish aquarium. Plants will thrive on fish water every week. Fish water is safe and will not burn young plants, and you cannot over-fertilize using fish water.

7. Water once per week. About a cup of water is the right amount for the average medium size plant.
Do not allow your plant to soak in a pan of water! This will promote root rot and calcification. The only time I soak my plants in standing water is when I travel and am away for more than 2 weeks.



Do not use a metal or foil pie pan under your plant! Metal is never a good idea for plant care. It is best to use a ceramic dish under your plant, because it will absorb excess water which will quickly evaporate. Plastic dishes or ceramic plates are my next choice.

In very dry climates water 2 times per week. A humidifier might also be necessary in dryer climates. If mushrooms start to grow... you will know that the air is humid and you are watering too much! Leaves will also burn on the edges if a plant receives too much water.

8. Play with Light. Some plants survive well in a warm sunny window and others prefer being placed under a table lamp. If you are unsure about plant placement, do not be afraid to move your plant to an area where it seems the most happy.



Follow these simple tips and you should have happy and healthy house plants! Your comments and questions are always welcome! Please visit my website for more information! GARDEN BLESSINGS, GAiL http://www.pondplantgirl.com/


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