Saturday, January 30, 2016

Houseplant Difficulties

"I have no plants in my house.  They won't live for me.  Some of them don't even wait to die, they commit suicide." 
-  Jerry Seinfeld I might be able to grow beautiful geraniums and big sweet bell peppers, but I find houseplants difficult to keep happy. Although, with some houseplants I find I would do better if I just watered a rock once a week.  I have found growing houseplants to be less difficult when I keep their most important elements: water, light and air into consideration and if I take care of their pest problems right away.

I have killed more houseplants from overdose...okay over watering than any other cause. I have found that many houseplants prefer a moist but not wet root system. While others houseplants prefer to dry out between each watering. I find self-watering planters make it easier to water houseplants.  I also keep in mind that city water is treated with chemicals and that most houseplants do not like chlorine or fluoride. So, I let my tap water sit in an open container for 24 hours, which allows chemicals to evaporate and brings the water to room temperature. Also, houseplants like to eat too and need a formula of 6-12-6 fertilizer to maintain healthy growth. I find that when fertilizing houseplants, fertilize January – September and then allow a lull for the remainder months.

Houseplants receive most of their energy to grow, thrive and stay alive from lighting. Insufficient lighting usually results in pale foliage, lanky growth and lack of luster.  Unfortunately, I can't help that my husband likes to live in a dungeon with the blinds pulled all of the time, but I can usually fix the light exposure by gradually moving the houseplant closer to a window or into a different room. 

Here are some examples of how to tell if a houseplant is not receiving enough light (believe me, I found these out the hard way):
-Growth is spindly with long spacing between leaves.
-New leaves are smaller than existing ones.
-Lower leaves turn yellow and fall off.
-Slow or no growth.
-Fail to bloom properly.
-Variegated plants are solid green.

-Examples of how to tell if a houseplant is receiving too much light:
-Brown scorched patches on leaves.
-Leaves look faded.
-Midday plant wilt.
-Leaves dry and fall off.

Although, houseplants may be of a tropical nature they would rather sacrifice a few degrees of temperature than to lose moisture in the air. My house tends to be dry in the winter with the use of heat.  I have found that for my houseplants to succeed, I keep the temperature as low as possible, while I still keep my home comfortable, but I never let it get below 50 degrees. I also, add additional humidity by using humidifiers and frequent misting. Also, when keeping air temperature in mind, glass is a poor insulator and temperatures near windows can be considerably colder or hotter.

I think my home screams pick me, pick me to every type of insect imaginable but, preventing insects from entering the home is the answer to indoor insect control. I check my houseplants for insects and disease before bringing them home. I have found that if I isolate the houseplant for a few weeks and then I inspect it for pests each time I water, I can prevent an infestation to my other plants. I also wash the leaves of my houseplants several times a year with an insecticidal soap. This also, helps to clear any dust build up on my the plants. Dust decreases photosynthesis and increases spider mites and other pests.

As you can see there is really no mystery to keeping houseplants healthy, once one puts the houseplants ideal living conditions into consideration.  Although, sometimes I still contemplate on that rock....

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