Working in the showroom with customers face to face is very enjoyable to me. There is nothing like helping a customer who doesn’t know exactly what they want find that perfect something. And by the same token, helping someone who has an idea in their head find just what they desire. The smiles I see when they leave are addictive. Making people happy is actually a very selfish activity.
That being said, one of things I hear all the time goes something like this, “I would love to have houseplants, but I have a black thumb.” Or “I can’t keep a plant alive.” Well, let’s face facts people. Unless you live in a cave, you can have at least ONE houseplant. You just need to research what kind will be best suited to your home and commit to its care. Plants bring beauty and promote a sense of health and well-being to your personal environment. More people should have them. But before you run out and buy your new friend, you should do a little research. Not every plant is suited to every environment so take a look at yours. What kind of light does your home have? What is the average temperature? Do you have a spot to place the plant that’s within at least 4 feet of a window? These are all good things to consider.
Most plant care tags will indicate what kind of light each plant requires and in some cases, what they will tolerate. Understanding what they mean by the various light designations is very important.
- Bright Light – Place your plant within 2 feet of an east or west facing window or up to 5 feet from a south facing window.
- Indirect Light – Place your plant within 4 feet of a north facing window; up to 8 feet from a south window; up to 5 feet from an east or west window.
- Low Light – up to 6 feet from a north window; 8 feet from an east or west window; up to 10 feet from a south window. Light must be able to cast a shadow. If it does not, the intensity is too low for survival of most plants.
Insufficient Light: When plants do not receive enough light they grow slowly, require less water and little to no fertilizer. There is also a real danger of over-watering because the plant doesn’t need as much. Some signs that your plant is receiving insufficient light may include: stunted growth, leaves that are yellow, leaves that drop, normally variegated leaves lose variegation & blooming plants that don’t bloom.
Excessive Light: Sun scorch is usually the result of excessive sunlight, enhanced by high temperatures. This may occur if you move your indoor plants outside in the summertime or if plants are left in bright windows during summer. Symptoms of excessive light include: wilting, transparent “bleach” spots on leaves facing light or brown areas on leaves facing light.
Of many methods used to determine watering schedules, the most successful for most plant owners is to feel the soil. Checking the soil surface daily gives you some idea of the amount of water used by the plant. Plants that need their soil to dry out between thorough waterings shouldn’t be watered until the top layer of soil feels dry. Plants that need to be kept moderately moist can be watered when the soil first feels dry to the touch. Plants requiring constantly moist soil should never be allowed to dry out and should always feel moist to the touch.
Insect pests – Aphids, Scale, Mealybugs, Fungus Gnats, Thrips, Whiteflies & Spider Mites are some of the common pests that plague indoor houseplants. A major part of insect control in any situation is prevention. Whether you have one plant or hundreds, the following precautionary measures will aid in preventing insect infestations.
- Inspect the leaves and stems for any insects on any new plants before placing them with existing plants.
- If repotting is necessary, use only clean disinfected pots and sterilized soil.
- Minimize handling plants to avoid transferring insects from one plant to another. After handling infested plants, wash hands and sterilize tools.
- Keep plants clean and dusted so they can utilize all available light.
Even when you’ve taken appropriate measures, insect populations may build up. Many light infestations can be controlled with non-chemical treatments. In the case of severely affected plants, there are a variety of pesticides that can be utilized. Sometimes insect growth or the damage caused by them is so great that you can not save the plant. In this case, the plant must be destroyed so it does not contaminate other plants.