Caring for Houseplants
Houseplants are a great way to bring a piece of nature inside, they can transform a dull and boring space into something lively and homely in an instant. I have many house plants in my home. They are a cheap and effective way to brighten up your living spaces. They are also the perfect air filters for your home.
Generally speaking houseplants are easy care but I have had many people say they struggle to keep their houseplants thriving. This time of year the plants living in your home are going to be a lot more thirsty and a lot more hungry but before I get into that the first thing you need to make sure of is do you have the right plant for the right spot? The last thing you want is for a plant to be receiving too much or not enough light and many plants are also affected by air movement and temperature inconsistency.
Here are a few of my favourite houseplants which are readily available and great for novice houseplant lovers.
Ficus is my all time favourite plant for the home. There is a few different varieties to choose from, and many are trained as standards or bonsai. I find ficus a perfect beginners choice as it is extremely easy care. They can be small or large so they can make a big feature point in a large space or just to rest in a nice position on a corner table.
Light: ficus prefer a brightly lit room with indirect light so keep away from areas such as windowsills.
Warmth and humidity: they love the warmth and enjoy a medium to high amount of humidity. You can mist with a spray bottle to assist in creating the humidity levels for the ficus. Do not place ficus where it may get a draft, especially during the winter months. Find an area away from windows and doorways.
Watering: this is where many loving owners kill the ficus with kindness. Whilst they enjoy the humidity they don’t like to be over watered, nor do they like to be under watered. A good way to monitor this is to check the top of the soil with your finger, if it is dry, water it. If it is wet refrain from watering for another day or two. During the summer the watering will be quite frequent, but in winter the watering needs to be cut right back.
A stunning plant to have in the home. Glossy green foliage and gorgeous showy flowers to match. Very easy care, even more so then ficus. The peace lily is one of the top air filtering plants to have in the home.
Light: peace lilies can handle low light situations which may be perfect for a hallway for darker corner of the house, as long as it is in an indirect light a well lit room will also be great for the peace lily.
Warmth and humidity: these plants are a tropical plant and enjoy warmth and humidity both so again misting with a spray bottle is beneficial.
Watering: peace lilies can handle a bit of under watering but can not stand to be over watered, this time of year the watering can be quite often, once or twice a week should be sufficient. Cut right back in the winter months. Peace lilies will let you know when they are too dry as the big glossy leaves start to weep, but they pick up almost instantly with a drink. My peace lily will always shout at me when I’ve missed a water. Luckily they are so easy to revive.
Orchids are simply stunning. If you don’t have one already, go out and get one. I wasn’t always a fan but I have had a lot of success with the flowering and now I love them. The flowers are long lasting and they flower once, maybe twice a year. I hope to pass my success onto you with these easy tips.
Light: a bright room with indirect light.
Warmth and humidity: orchids thrive in a warm position, be very careful in the winter months. Moderate humidity and occasional misting will be best. Avoid drafts.
Watering: make sure to remove the inner pot if you have one, I find the best method is to water the orchid under a running tap and then leave it in the sink to drain. You never want to leave orchids sitting in water. Once a week during summer should be sufficient. In winter once a fortnight is better but my handy little tip is to use warm water instead of cold as they really hate the winter cold.
Nutrients: orchids are one of those plants I like to get a specific fertiliser for which is a specialised liquid orchid feed. It is best to feed during the growing season.
Pruning that flower head: when the flowers are all said and done, don’t cut the whole stem off like you would do with other flowers. Just take it back to the second node down the stem, (a line on the stem marks the node), 5cm above the node and hopefully this will then re-flower in the future.
Succulents and Cacti
Perfect for the person who wants a unique look and who has absolutely no time to bother with fussing too much. You can make these plants look good in glass bowls or you can set them up with different varieties in one pot to create something different.
Light: a bright room, some direct light is good but not too much otherwise they will burn.
Warmth and humidity: low humidity is best and a warm environment suits well.
Watering: be careful not to over water as this is the biggest killer. If there is no drainage holes, add stones to the bottom of the pot so the water has somewhere to go. Allow the soil to dry out between watering but water more frequently during summer. In winter you may only have to water monthly.
Nutrients: succulents don’t require a lot of feeding but if you feel they are looking tired and deflated there is a specific cacti and succulent liquid feed you can buy. This does not have to be in a regular feed cycle.
Feeding your plants is beneficial this time of year. I fertilise my houseplants with Tui Novatec every six months as it is a slow release fertiliser which is safe to use in pots, however the most important fertiliser for your house plants is a liquid fertiliser to keep them lush and green. I am a fairly busy (lazy) gardener so I tend to stick to feeding them with liquid feed every month, although every fortnight would be ideal. You can cut right back in your feeding regime in winter.
House plants can be prone to insect attacks if conditions aren’t right and even sometimes if they are. They can suffer with things such as mealy bug, aphids and scale. I like to use either an organic or less harsh insect killer on my house plants if these problems arise. Sometimes fungus such as powdery mildew may also occur in which I would use a copper spray.
There are plenty more house plants suitable for beginners. The number one thing is to make sure you have the right spot for the plant so read the labels and talk to your plant experts. Choose something you love and make you space unique and special.