Thursday, April 30, 2015

Caring for housplants

There quite a few things wich have to be considered when caring for houseplants, the major ones are moisture, light and temperature some others are humidity, fertilizers, potting and pest control. Here are some general guidelines for your houseplant care

Both to much water or not enough water can be the end of you houseplant. The best way to find out if your plant needs water is to check the soil moisture. But don´t just feel on top dig a little bit in with your finger. It is often that the top looks try but a little further down its still moist enough. Feeling the soil is more reliable than using moisture meteres these are often inaccurate

Most potted plants must be allowed to reach an appropriate level of dryness in between waterings. Proper soil moisture can range from still slightly moist on the soil surface to very dry to nearly the bottom of the pot. Watering a plant by the calendar is not recommended. If a plant does need to be watered, water should be slowly poured over the surface of the soil until it begins to drain out the bottom of the pot, ensuring complete saturation.

However, sometimes the soil separates from the sides of the pot if it is allowed to dry out thoroughly, allowing the water to flow down the sides of the rootball and out the bottom too quickly to be absorbed and retained by the soil and roots. If this is the case, it may be necessary to set the plant in a shallow dish of water long enough for it to soak up enough water to moisten the rootball to its center. Repotting should eliminate this problem. Repotting should be done only when necessary, since the roots of a plant that is in an excessively large pot may rot.

Different plants require different light intensities. The time of light exposure is as important as the intensity. Quality exposure of 8 to 16 hours is ideal for most plants. Windows are the most common sources of light for houseplants. In the Northern Hemisphere, south-facing windows have the most sun exposure, while western, eastern, and north-facing windows have progressively less exposure. Natural sunlight through windows is affected by seasonal changes, cloud cover, and window treatments.

Houseplants are generally grown in specialized soils called potting compost or potting soil. A good potting compost mixture includes soil conditioneres for nutrients, support adequate drainage, and proper aeration. If local natural soil is to be used, best thing is to first heat sterilizing it by placing the soil in an oven at 90°C for at least 30 minutes. This will ensure that the soil does not contain any harmful bacteria. For a plant that requires fast drainage, such as a cactus, use plenty of coarse sand, grit or perlite. For a plant that requires plenty of moisture, use more coir.

Most houseplants are tropical species selected for their adaptation to growth in a climate which ranges from 15 °C to 25 °C (60 °F to 80 °F), similar to the temperature in most homes. Temperature control for other plants with differing requirements needs attention to heating and/or cooling.

In a potted environment, soil nutrients can eventually get depleted. Adding fertilizer can artificially provide these nutrients. However, adding unneeded fertilizer can be harmful to the plant. Because of this, careful consideration must be taken before fertilizing. If a plant has been in the same potting mix for a year or more and is growing vigorously, then it may be a candidate for nutrient replacement done by using a complete fertilizer at half the recommended label dilution rate. It is better to under-fertilize than over-fertilize

Pot types and sizes
Proper pot size is an important factor to consider. A pot that is too large will cause root disease because of the excess moisture retained in the soil, while a pot that is too small will restrict a plant's growth. Porous pots are usually clay and are highly recommended because they provide better aeration as air passes laterally through the sides of the pot. Non-porous pots such as glazed or plastic pots tend to hold moisture longer and restrict airflow.

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