It’s official – indoor plants are good for your health. A NASA study determined that plants like Aloe Vera, spider plants and Gerber daisies actually help to purify the air we breathe. The benefits of plants when it comes to lowering stress and making us feel happier are also well documented. Houseplants are definitely a good thing, but keeping them healthy all year round can be a challenge. Conditions inside a house can be tough on plants, particularly in winter when low humidity dries soil out quickly. So, what can you do to help your indoor plants flourish?
First off, you need to think about what kind of plant will work for you. Are you a forgetful gardener likely to neglect your indoor plants? If so, perhaps you should opt for an easy going cactus or a Chinese evergreen. Think about what would fit best with your lifestyle before you buy anything. Visit sites like Spalding Bulb to browse the options and do your homework before you spend your hard earned cash.
It may be counter-intuitive, but most indoor plants are damaged by too much attention rather than not enough. Over watering is a massive killer of house plants which causes root rot. If you see a plant sitting in water you need to take action, and don’t automatically water your plants working to a schedule – check that they need it first.
Plants suffering from lack of light will start to lose their healthy green appearance and turn pale. New growth might be spindly as it seeks out sunlight.
Salt build-up can reduce the growth of indoor plants. Keep an eye out for a white crust appearing on the side of pots; a sure sign of salt build-up. This is caused when soil is never allowed to drain so it’s worth watering a plant over a sink every once in a while so the soil drains right through.
Another warning sign to look out for is browning leaf tips which may be an indication that your plant is suffering from low humidity. This is a particular problem in winter when the central heating system kicks in. Dry clothes by hanging them on radiators to increase humidity, or use mist sprayers.
Unlike plants that live outside, there are no natural predators when it comes to pests that have set up camp on indoor plants. It’s up to homeowners to be vigilant because things like spider mites and aphids can take over a plant in a matter of days. Spider mites leave webbing in their wake, especially on the inner joints of plants. Infected leaves could have a yellow coloured stippling and will be brittle. Mealy bugs make plants look as though they are drying out even when they have been well watered. They are hard to get rid of so cut out infected areas. Aphid infestations will appear as small white, green or black spots. They are easy to kill but persistent so you may need to treat your plant a few times – the Royal Horticultural Society has advice on how to control aphids.