Growing plants in the home has become very popular in recent years. Plants create an atmosphere of warmth and life that cannot be equaled by any other home furnishing. Unfortunately, the environment in many homes is not conducive to growing plants. Many homes have inadequate light, temperature fluctuations, and low humidity. These adverse growing conditions offer a real challenge to the homeowner and point out the necessity for selecting plants to fit the growing conditions in the home.
Before selecting specific houseplant varieties, consider factors such as work schedule, personal habits, time restrictions and travel demands. For those who have limited time to devote to plant care, low-maintenance and/or drought-tolerant varieties make good choices.
Choose plants that appear healthy and are not root-bound.
When it's time to repot, place plants in nutrient-rich, sterile potting soil in the proper type of container.
Give a plant the exact amount of light it needs. Some tolerate very low light, while others need about four hours of bright light a day; but the majority love bright light that is not direct sunlight. Generally, foliage plants tend to require less light than flowering plants do. If a flowering plant isn't blooming, chances are that it's not getting enough light. Conversely, if there's too much direct light, the leaves turn yellow and brown.
Know a plant's temperature and care requirements. Some like it cool. Others-- such as African violets, ficus, aglaonema-like it warm.
Place a plant in an area where it will have the humidity it needs. Most plants prefer a humidity of 50 to 60 percent. By contrast, most homes can have a very low humidity, especially in the winter. To create more humidity, place a tray of hot water on top of a heat register and let the water evaporate, or use a humidifier.
Know how much water a plant needs and supply exactly that-- not too much or too little. (Most plants are killed by over watering, not under watering.)
Periodically, clean the foliage gently with a solution of water and liquid detergent. Then rinse the plant under the shower or use a sponge.
Fertilize each plant, as its needs demand. Foliage plants usually need fertilizers high in nitrogen. Flowering plants need a fertilizer that's lowered in nitrogen and higher in phosphorous.
Turn the pot a quarter-turn every week to ensure that the plant is getting uniform light.