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Looking After House Plants

Keep your indoor plants healthy and happy with our easy-to-follow growing guide.

The Greenfingers’ range of houseplants has been carefully selected to ensure that there’s something for everyone. So, whatever style you’re looking for, whatever the conditions in your home, we’ve got the plant for you. Below, we’ve got advice on making the right plant choice, and ensuring that it thrives for years to come.

Choosing
First things first: apart from looking good, what do you want from your houseplant?
Consider:
Time: if you don’t have much to spare, avoid plants that require daily care.
Try: spider plant, weeping fig, mother-in-law’s tongue or false aralia for starters.
Health: some plants will clean the air of pollutants, worth considering if you’re a city dweller.
Try: spider plant, weeping fig, rubber plant, parasol plant.
Permanence: do you want a burst of seasonal flowers or a long-lasting foliage display?
Flowers, try: azaleas, chrysanthemums.
Dramatic foliage, try: king begonia, peacock plant, mother-in-law’s tongue, Madagascar dragon tree, devil’s ivy.

Positioning
BEFORE deciding on a particular house plant it’s important to fix on where you’re going to put it, and what the conditions are in that spot. Consider:
Natural light: you’re spoilt for choice with a bright spot, less so with a shady one.
For moderately shady spots, try: peacock plant.
Direct sun: this is to be avoided. The sun can scorch leaves, and the heat will make the plant flop.
For a spot that receives some direct sun, try: Chrysanthemums, good luck tree, mother-in-law’s tongue, parasol plant.
Humidity: most plants are happy in moderately humid conditions, but bathrooms can be damp; small, centrally heated rooms can be very dry.
For your bathroom, try: peacock plant, spider plant, good luck tree.
For a small, centrally heated room, try: mother-in-law’s tongue.
Draughts: avoid these: generally, plants benefit from a steady, mild temperature.
Space: if limited, avoid plants with spikes or dangling stems, choose varieties that have a compact shape.
Try: azalea, chrysanthemum, king begonia, asparagus fern.
AFTER your plant arrives let it settle in: it may lose some leaves as it adjusts to conditions. If it has one source of light, turn the plant regularly to prevent it growing in only one direction. Occasionally wipe its leaves with a damp cloth.

Watering
Place your plant pot in a saucer to avoid staining furniture.
Water the plant when the compost surface is no longer moist – test it with your finger. NB. Some plants require their compost to be kept moist but not soaking. These are: azalea, chrysanthemum, peacock plant, spider plant, umbrella plant, devil’s ivy.
Most are happy to be watered from the top, but if the pot is small, fill the saucer with water and let the compost soak it up.
Don’t let plants stand in water; if necessary, tip away the excess from the saucer.
Don’t overwater your plant.
If your plant dries out and flops, submerge the entire pot (but not the plant) in water and hold it there until air bubbles cease from rising to the surface.

Feeding
Like watering, you can under- and overfeed a plant so, whether you choose a liquid or slow-release fertilizer, make sure you follow the instructions on the packet.

Repotting
You’ll probably need to repot your house plant after two or three years. To find out whether it’s time, take a look at the bottom of the pot: are roots coming through the hole? If you’re still uncertain, gently ease the plant out of its pot. Are the roots beginning to appear through the compost? If the answer to either of these questions is yes, here’s what to do:
1. Buy a pot that’s one size bigger, and some fresh house plant compost.
2. Pour a little compost into the base of the pot.
3. Ease your plant out of its original pot and place it so that the rootball is about an inch below the top of its new pot, adding more compost to the bottom if necessary.
4. Fill with compost, and tamp it down with your hand.


Articles reprinted with premission from Greenfingers.com



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