Brighten Up Your Home with Houseplants
Posted: November 14, 2012
Do you miss the lush greens and colors of the growing season? If so, consider brightening the inside of your home with some new houseplants. A bit of color and new life can do wonders for all of us.
Houseplants can be found for sale at your local greenhouse, the big box retailers, flea markets, and even friends often divide and share their own plants. There are several things to look for when shopping for a healthy plant. Inspect the leaves carefully. They should have the right color, shape, size, be free of blemishes or brown edges, and lower leaves should not be pale or yellow.
A good specimen should not look leggy or sparse. It should have a good, balanced shape and not be top heavy. Look closely at stems and leaves for any signs of insects or disease. Finally, look at the pot and soil. If roots are growing through the drainage holes or are seen at the soil surface, the plant has probably outgrown its pot. If you choose this plant, special care will be needed when transplanting into a larger pot. Most importantly, look for a proper label, which will give you all the necessary information to care for your new housemate.
Once you have made your selection, it is a good idea to keep a new plant away from other plants for 2-3 weeks. This will protect the other plants from possible attack by any insects or disease you might have missed. Often, they have been grown in greenhouse conditions and highly controlled environments so they may go through a period of shock. Also, plants drop some leaves or some leaves may yellow when first brought into a new environment.
This adjustment period should not last more than a few weeks. During this time, keep the plant relatively cool to help minimize water loss through its leaves. Check the soil regularly to determine when to water. Also, do not fertilize at this time, since the plant is adjusting to lower light and humidity conditions.
Other factors to keep in mind for your houseplants:
Exposure: Some plants like direct sunlight; others prefer filtered light through curtains.
Moisture: Most house plants are of tropical origin and their watering needs vary.
Temperature: Some, like poinsettias and begonias, like warmth but spider plants and florist mums like it cooler. Avoid drafts in the winter time, so keep your plants away from exterior doors.
It is important to note that most houseplants are safe; some can cause problems or reactions. Please consider this in your selection. Children and pets should be kept away from houseplants anyway, but an unfamiliar and new item brings out our curiosity. For help in selecting a houseplant, the Penn State Master Gardeners in Lackawanna County have facts sheets for this. Please contact us at 570-963-6842 or email LackawannaMG@psu.edu and request a copy of “Houseplant Guide.”
Steve Ward, Master Gardener Coordinator
Penn State Extension in Lackawanna County