Celebrating Houseplant Appreciation Day
Let’s talk about houseplants! Placing indoor plants around your home can not only improve décor, but psychologists say plants can help improve your mood. And, of course, houseplants make great staging props if you are preparing to sell your home. In honor of Houseplant Appreciation Day (January 10, 2023), here are some tips for caring for and keeping green, healthy houseplants.
Choose the Right Plant
Not all plants thrive indoors. Choosing the correct plants to grow in your home is important. The most commonly kept houseplants include, but are certainly not limited to:
- Aglaonema (Silver Bay, Chinese Evergreen)
- Dracaena (Dragon Tree)
- Pothos (Ivy)
- Spathiphyllum (Peace Lily)
Right Light and Rotate
Believe it or not, not all houseplants love sunlight equally. Whether the plant likes full-sun, part-sun, part-shade, or full-shade, it is important to understand the difference. Many indoor plants like indirect or filtered sunlight. No matter which plants you choose to decorate your home, it is important to read the labels or use the internet to determine the appropriate amount of sunlight. A commonly forgotten task when keeping indoor plants is to rotate them regularly. Since plants grow toward sunlight, even shaded plants will lean toward the direction of the sun. Rotating the plants ensures they grow evenly on each side.
Just like sunlight, the amount and frequency of watering a plant needs varies by type. Some plants thrive on weekly watering, while others may require minimal or monthly watering. For example, I find Orchids do best with a weekly watering. Some Orchid lovers swear by ice cubes; put 1 or 2 ice cubes in the pot once a week. As the cubes melt, they water the plant. Other Orchid fans recommend filling the pot with enough water to cover the roots and allow it to soak for 5 minutes, after which you should drain the water. On the other hand, a ZZ Plant does best with watering once a month. When it comes to Peace Lilies, keeping the soil moist is key. If you live in a dry climate, you may need to water more frequently than a humid environment. Again, read the plant labels and research on the internet.
Choose the right container for your plant. Whether it is size, material, or drainage, these things matter to a plant. Many plants will grow to the size of the container. Simply put, if you want them to get bigger, put them in a bigger pot. If you’re happy with the size, keep it in the same pot. Some plants, though, will outgrow their containers and can suffer from overcrowding of the roots or can become “pot bound.” Keep an eye on your plants as they grow. If the roots start to grow out of the container or through the drainage holes, it is time for a bigger pot. You’ll also want to be aware of the size and number of drainage holes (or lack thereof). Plants often need good drainage, so these holes on the bottom of the container are important. Just make sure you water the plant outside or have a plate of some sort under the container to catch the extra water that drains out of the bottom.
Keep them Clean and Trimmed
Your houseplants should be included in your regular cleaning routine. Too much dust or debris can keep the plants from getting the required sunlight and will inhibit photosynthesis. Dusting each leaf, one-by-one, can be a tedious task. The easiest thing to do is periodically bring the plants outside and hose them off. I’ve heard of some people putting their plants in the shower and rinsing them off. Whichever way you choose to go, make sure the containers are dry before returning them to their homes. In addition, you’ll want to trim any brown/dying foliage. Dying leaves leach nutrients from the plant, thus pulling resources from the other healthy leaves. If the dying leaf is diseased or suffering from a pest infestation, leaving the leaf could allow the spread of the disease/pests to the rest of the plant.
Don’t Forget Your Plants
Neglect is one of the most common plights of indoor plants. Don’t forget to care for your plants and check on them regularly. This is the best way to catch issues before it’s too late to save them.
Information sources: almanac.com, wikipedia.com, bhg.com, ambius.com