Hands up, who got one (maybe two) house plants just laid about the house not doing much but you’ve kept going over the years with some erratic watering ever so often because you quite like the look of the leaves? Was it given to you as a present or did you buy it at a special price in the local nursery once?
House plants tend to get a bad rap these days. Once popular in the 1970’s and 80’s (Who didn’t have spider plants multiplying profusely in their hall in the 80’s?), now it seems that plants in doors either take up too much space, or too much time. And if neither of those aren’t a good enough reason then there is always those annoying little black flies that annoy you regardless of the ton of gravel you put on top of each pot.
When I ask people about plants indoors I tend to get a response of ; ‘I usually kill them because I forget to water them’, or ‘I’ve had that plant for years and never remember to water it’.
There is one very good reason to keep house plants, and that is – they are good for us. They clear the bad chemicals in the air and, if placed around the house properly, can create relaxing moods.
If you like outdoor plants then indoor plants shouldn’t be a barrier to having any amount of colour and shape inside but as always, needs a little forethought. So I thought I’d share a few house plant tips:
- Have the plant for a reason – does it look nice, does it smell nice, does it make the room look better? If not, get rid.
I’ve been keeping an umbrella plant for over 12 years. It has been moved from one room to the next, I’ve pruned it, re-potted it and forgotten to water it on many occasions but because it always seems to keep growing I just can’t bear to get rid of it. Its now in the barn outside.
- Plants don’t like dry air so having the radiators on sixth months of the yr (Well, this is England), is going to put toll on any lush green foliage plants. If you do have a plant on a windowsill with a radiator directly below it consider hanging a container of water from the radiator to raise the level of humidity. If you got a poinsettia for Christmas the leaves will start to fall off frequently by now because it tends to be placed in a lounge or dinning room to be shown off, both rooms where the the air can be too dry. It is actually possible to keep a poinsettia going for the following year, you don’t have to ditch them.
- Some plants like semi-shade, and indeed I’ve ruined a fair few in my time by putting them in direct sunlight. So North west, west, and South east rooms are always much easier for plants to live in. The only exception to that rule is the good old cactus. Having no heat on at all can also effect a plant in low temperatures. If you’re away when it’s cold weather just be sure to keep the plant out of any draughts.
- Be prepared to feed the plant according to his variety. It can’t sit in a pot with the same old compost for years and years without feeling sorry for itself. You can either re-pot it, top up the top soil or feed it with a liquid fertilizer. Do this when Spring and Summer arrives, or as you would any hanging baskets outdoors to remind you. You can buy individual liquid fertilizers for less than £1 at some stores now.
- If it is a heavy green foliage plant like a Castor oil plant or rubber plant just give the leaves a quick wash down with water and cotton wool once a year. It makes the leaves reflect more light and gives the plant a shiny appearance.
- Lastly, do what the plant label says! I never read the plant labels which means I’ve lost over the years, three peace Lilly’s, one yucca and two dragon plants, this is not only a waste of good plants but also a waste of time and money.
Of course, all that aside the only real plant that can put up everything you do or don’t throw at it is the hardy cactus. I’ve never known a more interesting plant than the cactus. It takes years to grow so you don’t have to re-pot it regularly. It needs feeding maybe once a year and water, well if you do forget it doesn’t care. It laughs at you in the face of sheer neglect getting you back with it razor like spikes the next time you try and move it!