Apart from adding texture and colour to your decor, houseplants are actually extremely useful in purifying and renewing stale indoor air. They absorb and filter out toxins, pollutants and the carbon dioxide we exhale, replacing them with life-sustaining oxygen. And we’re not just talking about foliage plants, but flowering ones too–Chrysanthemums, Gerberas, African violets, Cyclamen and Kalanchoes are pretty as well as effective.
Orchids also have the added advantage of being one of the few plants that produce oxygen at night. So, do yourself and your home a favour by stocking up on some indoor greenery. Keeping them perky requires little more than regular watering and the occasional leaf cleaning.
How to keep indoor plants happy and healthy:
The amount of light a plant receives is critical to its survival. Read up on your plant before deciding where to place it. As there is less light indoors, your choice is often limited to plants that enjoy low light/semi-shade, unless you have a large north-facing window. There are many plants that will do well next to a bright window.
Over-watering is a no-no, as most plants don’t like waterlogged roots. This can cause root rot and prevents oxygen from getting to the roots, slowing growth and eventually killing the plant. It’s best to let the soil dry out in-between watering, apart from ferns and plants that need to be moist at all times.
You can test the soil by lifting the pot to feel how heavy it is, or by sticking your finger in to see how deep the moisture is. Once the soil – or the first few inches of it, is dry, give the plant a good soaking with water, making sure the soil is completely wet and letting excess water run off.
Feed your indoor plants with a good organic liquid fertiliser about once a month or at every fourth watering.
Pests and Diseases
Indoor plants are much more susceptible to pests and diseases, which are promoted by warmth and lack of air movement. Keep an eye out for any strange markings or colourations on the leaves, or visible signs of bugs on the plants. To treat problems, it’s best to take a photo to your nursery to identify the problem and select the appropriate product.
Tip: a well-diluted solution of dishwashing liquid and warm water on the leaves can remove pests or fungi – but try not to get it into the soil.
Remember: indoor plants generally grow slower than full sun plants because they are exposed to less light.