Learn­ing how to get best from house­plants

Yorkshire Post - YP Magazine - - Gardens -

THE garden can be a con­fus­ing place. The in­door garden can be even more per­plex­ing; a world of mys­tery where the nor­mal rules of hor­ti­cul­ture do not ap­ply.

Which is one of the rea­sons so many peo­ple have dis­as­ters grow­ing on their win­dowsills – they con­fuse house­plants with their out­door rel­a­tives. But if in­door and out­door plants are re­lated at all, it’s a dis­tant re­la­tion­ship. A house plant has a list of con­di­tions to which it must adapt: dry air, low light, low hu­mid­ity and ar­ti­fi­cial heat in win­ter. And then there’s al­ways the soil – a plant in a pot re­lies on some­one to pro­vide it with good com­post and a con­tainer which is big enough to ac­com­mo­date its ex­pand­ing root struc­ture.

So, con­sid­er­a­tion of a plant’s needs is key to success and a long life of lush, healthy fo­liage and an abun­dance of flow­ers.

Firstly, get the right plant for the right place. Most plants usu­ally grow well where they can en­joy the light. But a word of cau­tion – when the tem­per­a­ture drops be­low freez­ing, ei­ther leave the cur­tains un­drawn or re­move plants to a spot where they aren’t likely to suf­fer a shock from plung­ing tem­per­a­tures.

If a plant needs more hu­mid­ity than a win­dow sill can of­fer, put it in the bath­room, near the shower. But don’t overdo the kind­ness be­cause wa­ter­ing can be tricky. Too much will rot roots and kill the plant; too lit­tle will pro­duce plants with poor fo­liage and few, if any flow­ers.

Any plants which need a lot of water should be placed (in their pots) in a saucer that con­tains gravel. Water the gravel, mak­ing sure the water-level stays just be­low the base of the pot.

Light needs vary. Check the tag that comes with the plant when it’s bought. A par­tic­u­lar plant may not need a sunny win­dow – more is not al­ways bet­ter. The leaves of some plants may be sen­si­tive to the sun and burn eas­ily.

If a plant needs light, but sun­light isn’t avail­able, you can use ar­ti­fi­cial light. In most cases, low light will re­sult in spindly, weak growth. Right now, the days are short, so you might have to move plants to ar­eas of the room which re­ceive more light. South, west or east-fac­ing win­dows are all worth con­sid­er­ing.

And keep the plants out of cold drafts or their leaves will yel­low and drop.

TAKE CARE: Look af­ter house­plants in win­ter and they will re­pay the care.

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