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A few green potted plants and the whole house comes alive. But to have the happiness of keeping them for a long time and seeing them grow, forget the received ideas and follow these tips from specialists.
Don't overwater your indoor plants
A plant needs above all water and light to be healthy; at the right dosage! However, the biggest difficulty for amateur gardeners is managing watering ... too often excessive, it literally drowns indoor plants. It is better to wait until they show a need for water than to anticipate too much. And even if you have got into the habit of watering only once a week because this is what was advised to you by the seller when buying, this should not be a systematic gesture. The golden rule is to let the root ball dry between two waterings: touch it, if it is still fresh and sticky, do not water; if it is warm and dry, then you can water. Depending on the periods and conditions, the plants may not need water every week or on the contrary need to water twice a week (during a heat wave for example). If you find them withered, basin them and then drain them well. You can even shower them in your bathroom, which will also clean the leaves. Also, be aware that the thinner the leaves, the more water needs to be watered because the water evaporates faster; and that an undrilled container causes the roots to rot - no standing water!
For watering indoor plants, do not use cold tap water
The maintenance of a houseplant consists in not 'shocking' it, as for all living beings. Treat it gently! So, for the crucial step of watering, as we have just seen, avoid using cold tap water. It should be just fresh, not too cold or too warm. For water at room temperature, just fill a few bottles about two days before watering - which will also allow it to partially purify its limestone. Most indoor plants, however, tolerate hard water - apart from anthuriums for example and 'acidophilic' plants such as azaleas ... Limestone blocks the assimilation of iron and anemia the pale plant. To treat it, you can make a supply of dried blood, rich in iron (but learn to juggle the fertilizer, a cure from time to time is enough). Otherwise, favor the collected rainwater, both free and fresh, it is ideal.
Indoor plants neither overexposed nor in the shade
As we have seen, light is the second essential element for a plant. Few bear full shade, and those with colorful or variegated leaves need more light than others. However, never place them behind a window facing south or west, their leaves will be damaged as during a sunburn! Instead, choose a window to the east (the ideal exposure with beautiful light without direct sunlight), and bring them as close as possible to this light wall. Finally, watch out for XL ficus bought inexpensively in department stores for example ... In your home, the plant will probably no longer have enough light. Inexpensive plants are also sometimes very advanced in their growth, they have less strength and therefore have more difficulty adapting to the conditions of the house.
Don't lock your plants all year round
Indoor plants are certainly tropical and need a constant temperature between 15 and 21 ° C. But in spring, when the outside temperatures are ideal, an outdoor makeover is very beneficial to them. Take them out in a spring rain, which will clean the leaves of a water neither limestone nor chlorinated, they love it! But avoid full sun, and go gradually. Beware also of purchases favorites or 'gifts' in pretty pots, these mini hydrangeas, lilies or roses that can stay indoors for a flowering ... Basically, these are outdoor plants so get out - once the flowers have wilted, and repot them if necessary.
Don't pamper your indoor plants too much…
Who says tropical plant does not mean desert plant, so avoid placing them near a heater and if the ambient air remains dry in winter, mist the foliage. Furthermore, if you find that your houseplant is very thirsty, do not give it fertilizer immediately, it will burn the roots. First give it a drink by bathing it, wait for the clod of soil to swell up, drain it then let it rest a little and then only, give fertilizer.
Don't neglect your indoor plants either ...
A houseplant needs care, but well targeted and without excess. To avoid dust preventing photosynthesis for example, clean the large leaves with a sponge, and spray the finer ones. To make their green shiny, you can apply a polish (very effective against the effects of lime); however, wash the leaves well with warm water and a soft sponge between two applications so as not to risk suffocating the plant. Feed it with fertilizer once a month, but be careful not to double the dose, especially if you repotted it with a potting soil already containing fertilizer. If it is a flowering plant, remove the wilted flowers so that the others flourish, and when you spray the foliage, try not to reach the flowers.
Don't constrain your houseplant with a pot that is too small
When leaving the store, keep in mind that these plants come out of the greenhouse where they were boosted ... when you get home, think of the fertilizer. You can keep your houseplant in the pot for up to a year. But watch it, once again: if the roots start to come out below the pot, it is urgent to repot! However, wait until the end of flowering. Thanks : - Franck Prost, specialist in tropical horticulture (www.franckprost.fr), - Ron Jeronimus, Director France of the Dutch Flower Office (www.maplantemonbonheur.fr).