A great way to beat the winter blahs is to surround yourself with the beauty of nature. The indoor landscape can provide this through houseplants during the winter months.
What does it take to kill a houseplant? Over or underwatering is often the culprit. But many other things can go wrong. Indoor gardeners can prevent these from ever happening.
First become familiar with the plantís needs before you buy it. Avoid impulse buys.
Before buying the plant, look at the label in the pot. Make sure the plantís needs match the environment of your house. The label should give the light and the temperature range the plant needs. If the houseplant doesnít receive adequate light, it will grow poorly and probably become lanky.
The temperature is another consideration. Some plants like a cool house, while others like it toasty warm. To save on energy costs, some people shut the heat off in some rooms. If you have your heart set on having a certain kind of houseplant, see what temperature range it needs. Then check out the various rooms in your home to see what spot comes closest to meeting its needs.
With this basic information, you should be able to select houseplants that will really thrive in your house. However, you still need to be able to care for them properly. The plant label should give details on watering and fertilizing. Fertilizing is no big deal so long as you donít overdo it. The safest thing is to use one of the liquid houseplant feeds at half the rate listed on the label. When the plant is actively growing, add the fertilizer to its water every two weeks. During the winter, this can be reduced to once a month. If it isnít growing and producing new leaves or flowers, then it is resting. So it doesnít need fertilizer.
Proper watering is important. The value of this canít be stressed enough. In general most houseplants do better if they are watered thoroughly. The top surface of the potting soil should dry out very slightly between waterings unless the plant label says it needs to be kept evenly moist. Letís say you have a very large pot that you canít move and set in the sink to water. There are two ways you could water it. First, you could pour water on top of the potting soil. Then, remove any water that drains into the saucer. I do this with a turkey baster. You could also pour water in the saucer and let it soak up into the soil. This may take about an hour. Once the top of the potting soil becomes damp, remove the rest of the water from the saucer.
People often leave water standing in the saucer, but this is a mistake. This prevents the plantís roots from getting the oxygen they need, which can cause them to die.
Books on houseplants have much more information about how to water along with other very helpful details. Of the books available on the subject, one of my favorites is Easy-Care Guide to Houseplants by Jack Kramer from Creative Homeowner. Over half of the book is devoted to profiles of the individual plants and their needs. Crammed with many helpful tips, it has chapters on every aspect of plant care. The chapter on decorating with houseplants is the best Iíve seen. He even has a color wheel made with flower petals.
With all the information available on houseplants, there is no reason they should languish.