Now that cold weather has officially made an appearance, my more than 80 potted patio plants are snug in the greenhouse, and I’m spending most of my time indoors.
What surprises me during the winter months is how quickly I find myself missing the sun and the sea of green and color in my garden. Cloudy, gray days make me long for happy, healthy plants with bright blooms.
So, I surround myself with houseplants. Not only do indoor plants brighten up a room, they absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen, helping to clean the air.
All houseplants need three basic elements to thrive — light, water and nutrients.
Plants depend on sunlight for photosynthesis. Because the specific needs for each plant will vary, it’s important to survey your indoor space to evaluate the amount of light available where you’d like to add plants. Make sure you consider both the duration and the intensity of the light. You can fill your windows with full-sun plants and save less-lighted spaces for plants that don’t need full light. While it’s never a substitute for the sun, fluorescent lighting can also help to supplement natural light.
Most plants at nurseries are tagged with some growing information such as whether they need low, medium or high light. If they aren’t, check with sales staff or research your plants online to make sure what you choose will be a good fit for your space.
If your plant begins to lean significantly toward the light, it should be moved, as this is a sign that it’s not getting enough sun. You should also turn your plants regularly so each side gets equal sun exposure.
The two most common causes of houseplant death are over- and underwatering. Many sources recommend watering plants once a week, but that’s just a guideline. To really gauge your plant’s water needs, you should use your finger to test the moisture of the soil just below the surface. If it’s still moist, don’t water it yet. For most plants, the best plan is to saturate the soil, then let it dry out before watering again. After a few cycles, your plants will let you know how long to go…