Everyone who’s at least once had a pot plant in their care knows that growing them is not at all easy. Soil, water, and sunshine are the basics, but every plant is special and might require a little bit of extra effort to not only live but also thrive in our homes.
House plants are not only beautiful but also beneficial for our health. They help to balance humidity, minimize allergens, air pollution, and noise pollution emitted by electronic appliances, as well as to reduce stress. People have been domesticating plants since ancient times as is, for example, seen in archeological excavations of Pompeii and Babylon. Much like the animals we chose to domesticate, plants also need some nurturing in return. Here are some facts every indoor plant owner should know to keep their leafy friends happy.
Cacti Like Cold Water
Because they seem like the most low-maintenance plants, cacti are a very common house plant, and probably, most people’s first pot plant. However, contrary to the common assumption that they like hot spaces, cacti enjoy a sunny, but cool spot, as well as cold water. Namely, deserts, their natural environments, get really cold during the night.
Some Plants do not Need Sunshine
Although sunshine is crucial for the growth of many plants, not all of them prefer direct sun exposure. This is particularly true for tropic plants who come from tropical forests where they live in the shade of other plants or on three canopies. Some of the most common house plants that fall in this category are: Asparagus fern, Mother in law’s tongue, most orchids, most ferns, Angel vine, and several other species.
Give your Plants a Shower
The dust that accumulates on the leaves of our plants prevents them from properly photosynthesizing. Therefore, the plants should be regularly dusted, at least once a month. This can be done with a moist cloth, damp sponge, or brush. Another easy way to go about it is to shower your plants. You can do it under the shower or with a hose in the garden. Mind that the water is not too cold or too hot. Rinsing the plant not only eliminates dust, but also potential insect infestation. When you are done with showering, wait a bit for the excess water to drain before returning the plants to their spots.
Mind Not to Overwater Your Plants!
While plants like cacti might require little water to survive, it’s important to consider the flip side of this situation (especially after the previous paragraph) as some varieties can suffer from having too much water. For example, the African violet does not like to get her leaves wet. If you over-water some plants, their roots might rot and the plant might die. The symptoms of over-watering vary with the type of plant, but the most common indicator is if the leaves turn brown or yellow, or if they drop off. Likewise, the plant might become wilted. Luckily, there are remedies for over-watering. You might need to provide larger drainage holes at the bottom of the pots you use; wrap the pot in a towel during the night to dry the soil faster; remove rotten roots or repot your plant into fresh soil.
Dropping Leaves is not a Sign of Disease
A plant dropping its leaves does not have to be a sign of disease, but rather part of a normal life cycle of a given plant. That, of course, depends on the variety. Some plants, for example, the Oxalis regnellii, grow from a bulb, and after the flowers are done blooming, the plant drops its leaves and goes dormant. When this happens, remove the plant from the sun so it can rest in peace. When you see the first new shoots, put it back in a sunny spot.
As some more experienced house plant owners might know, the pH of the soil is also a considering factor in plant growth. Some plants prefer more acidic soils, and you can easily acidify their soil by pouring a small amount of lemon juice into it. Be careful not to pour it on the leaves as it might burn them. Some plants might even be seeded in half of a juiced lemon filled with soil! Apart from lemon, other good ways to acidify the soil are pouring cooled green tea or ground coffee.
…and Sparkling Water!
According to research conducted by the University of Colorado at Boulder, sparkling water is an excellent fertilizer. Namely, it is full of nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium. These help house plants grow greener and faster. Next time a club soda goes flat on you, do not pour it down the drain, but rather give it to one of your green companions.
If you’re keen on starting to grow some plants indoors or are already on your way to creating your ideal green oasis, it’s important you inform yourself about the specific needs of the plants that you own. By knowing the specific requirements of each, you’ll not only be contributing to its wellbeing, but yours as well, as they continue to grow and thrive in your home.