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House Plant Care and Maintenance - The Top Five Tips For Keeping Your Indoor Plants Looking Good

By Les Thomas

Does that beautiful houseplant you bought look sad within weeks of you getting it in the house or office? Remember that tropical plants grown in a pot indoors are in an extremely artificial environment. Here are five simple ways to help your indoor plants to survive indoors:

1. Put the right plant in the right place, the light level is the most important consideration when placing a plant, although many houseplants are tolerant of a wide range of light conditions; here are a few examples of plants for the light/shady extremes normally found indoors:

"Bright sparks": Sansevieria (mother in laws tongue), Areca palm, Ficus benjamina (weeping fig), Aloe vera, Zamiculcus zamifolia (ZZ plant).

"Shady characters: Spathiphyllum (peace lily), Kentia palm, Calathea, Philodendron (sweetheart plant), Maranta (herringbone plant).

2. Watering. Different plants have different water requirements but generally over-watering is the top of the list of ways to kill your house plants, you can literally "kill them with kindness". Never leave plants standing in a sauce of water. Number 2 on the list is under-watering. It is not possible to give specific watering instructions; it is dependent on ambient conditions and the plants requirements. As a general rule let the compost almost dry then remove the plant from its decorative container or saucer and give it a good soak then let it drain completely before returning it. Water plants less in winter (when light levels are low and the plants are semi dormant).

This might sound daunting but don't despair - there is a very easy way to ensure your plants get just the water they need - use self-watering planters. The best self watering containers are also very stylish making the perfect design foil for your plants and the integral water reservoir does not need topping up for up to 12 weeks - so no worries when you are away.

3. Buy quality plants. As with so many things in life, if that bargain seems too good to be true, then it probably is. Often cheap plants are not properly rooted or acclimatised to "non-hothouse" conditions. It is best to buy from specialist suppliers who know their plants and can give expert advice both before and after you have made your purchase.

4. Things to avoid. Never place your plant near to heat sources such as radiators or fires. Keep plants away from air conditioning ducts and cold draughts.

5. Things to do. Most plants benefit from an occasional misting to compensate for the low humidity environment in most interiors. Feed occasionally with specialist houseplant fertiliser - do not use general purpose garden plant food - this is particularly important for palms (where a specialist palm fertiliser is recommended). Feed only during the growing season (April-September), never over the winter months.

In summary just three things will virtually guarantee the health of your house plants:

o Buy quality plants

o Put the plants in the right place

o Use self-watering containers

Interior plants need not be hard work, just follow these simple guidelines and you will enjoy a fabulous display of tropical plants for years to come.

Les Thomas is a Director of House of Plants; an online specialist interior plant nursery serving mainland UK.

Click the following link or more information on plant care.

House of Plants are holders of the prestigious Royal Horticultural Society Gold Medal.

(c) Les Thomas - all rights reserved

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