My indoor plants are my babies, an extension of my home that I love and care for. Which means that I take extra special care of them and am completely devastated when any start to look unwell. Let alone die, something I take very personally. Especially if it’s as a result of something I failed to do. That in mind I thought I’d offer the following tips that will help you keep your plants healthy, happy and flourishing.
Know your plants
Most plants begin to wilt and struggle when they get either too much or too little of something – water, fertilizer, sun. Different plants thrive under completely different conditions. If you have more than one type of plants, which most of us do, don’t assume that what worked for one plant will work for the next. care of another. Take time to research the needs of your plants, read about their preferred conditions on the tag or ask the nursery, then follow those instructions carefully. I’m very guilty of overwatering (a form of love I’m sure) my plants.
Bring in the sunlight
The natural habitat for most plants is in the wild, under the light of day. Bear in mind the role that light plays in the process of photosynthesis. If you bring a plant indoors ensure that it has enough of the sunlight it needs to stay alive. Place your plants in areas with sufficient natural light, say near a window. South and north-facing windows get sunshine all day long, while East and West facing windows get light for half a day. Plants that love lots of light should be placed near a South-facing window while those that don’t need too much light can be placed near an East-facing window. If you live in a home or apartment that doesn’t have enough natural light, you could invest in an LED Grow Light that can mimic the sun and support the needs of your plants.catered for.
Oxygenate their soil
Plants grow either in soil or in water (hydroponics), which means that the roots are always masked from the air, yet they do need oxygen to function optimally. If you are using soil, push holes into it to remove excess dampness and compactness and consequently bring in the air. You can use a skewer stick or a chopstick for this job. For hydroponic methods, make it a habit of pouring out the growing water every week and replacing it with running, freshwater from the tap. The oxygen in the water can last up to a week.
The right type and amount of water
Ensure that you are not over/under watering your plants and that the water you use is clean and non-toxic. Avoid water with excessive chlorine, or water that’s contaminated by soap or other cleaning products – although as was discovered during the drought in the Cape, eco-friendly products are not known to harm plants. Some plants don’t mind water from the dishwasher, but some will react badly to it. Rainwater is always the best for watering and each time it rains I place most of my house plants outside to benefit from it.
Don’t be afraid to prune
Plants need regular pruning, not just to look good but to also to stay healthy. Different plants have different pruning needs, so it will help if you research on how to prune yours. Cut away dead leaves and dried branches to make place for fresh growth.
Keep them safe from extreme temperatures
Avoid exposing your plants to temperatures below 20 or above 25°C. Don’t keep plants near a heater or vent or the HVAC system as a whole. They are living entities and will burn, dry out or suffer from such extremities. Even having them next to open windows in the windy season can take its toll.
Offer them stability
As much as you can, allow your plants to settle into one place. Moving and rearranging them all the time will not give them the stability they need to adapt to a certain space’s light conditions or allow them to flourish there. That said, it is helpful to rotate them around in the same spot so that all sides of the plant can get an equal amount of sunlight within a week.
Add some organic plant fertilizer (liquid or pebbles work well) to the growing pot before planting, and at least once in either spring or summer. You can also add eggshell water as a homemade fertilizer as eggshells are rich in calcium and potassium. If you have space, create a compost heap that can be worked and used to feed the soil.
Protect them from dust and pests
Wash your plants regularly to knock off pests and remove dust build-up on the leaves. Your plants cannot breathe properly with dust and debris all over their leaves. Shower or spray them with a lot of water with a little dish detergent and wipe down with a sponge or a paintbrush.
Ensure room humidity
Maintain indoor moisture within moderate levels. Invest in a humidifier or if you don’t have the budget for that, spray the leaves with water to keep them hydrated, especially during the extreme months of winter and summer. They’ll thank you with extra shoots and leaves.
A few of my plants on what used to be a well-used table.
If your plants start looking limp and lifeless, know that something is horribly wrong and needs to be adjusted. Take the time to figure out what adjustment needs making and intervene in time. After all, our plants are the happiness in our homes and bring such light and loveliness to it.
Which may explain why I have over 100 indoor plant babies.