How To Grow Healthy House Plants

Does your green thumb turn black when attempting to grow healthy house plants? Here are a few hints that may help novice gardeners.

Growing house plants seems like a contradiction of terms. Things that grow naturally belong outdoors with fresh air and sunlight, right?

Not necessarily. Sometimes Mother Nature needs a little help with starting young shoots and nurturing stubborn or sickly plants.

If you are trying to raise green, growing things in your home, here are a few suggestions that may prove helpful.

1. Buy or prune wisely. Select sturdy stems and deep-hued blossoms for transplanting to your home environment. If purchasing bulbs, go with a name brand or product that you trust. Ask an seasoned gardener or greenhouse employee for recommendations. When you prune shoots for replanting, choose strong, firm branches that will adapt well to new surroundings.

2. Follow directions for your plant type. Don't assume that all shoots and plants require the same treatment. Some should be placed in water to take root before transplanting to soil; others can move to a new soil home right away. Ask a specialist or do an Internet search for information about the type of plants you want to raise.

3. Treat the soil appropriately. You may need to add fertilizer, nitrates, or water to the planting soil to prepare it ahead of time. Depending on the quality of top soil you will be using, you may need to remove stones or mix with compost to get a rich texture that can nourish young plants.

4. Choose the right container. Getting one that is too small is the usual problem. Some folks start a plant and then neglect to transplant it to a larger container as it grows. Soon the roots choke nutrients from the soil and the plant will wither. Use a container with small openings in the bottom for proper drainage of moisture. You may want to set the planter on a slab or plate to avoid water or soil trickling onto your furniture or floor.

5. Place in the best location. Read guidelines for the optimum light conditions. Some plants need direct sunlight while others grow better in muted light or shade. A sun room or large window with a ledge are ideal for plants that need sunlight. Avoid high-traffic areas where kids may trip over the pots or your pet may go digging.

6. Add fertilizer as directed. Don't overdo it. A little bit of plant food goes a long way. Use the brand that is best suited to your type of plant. Water daily or as indicated in the gardening guidelines.

7. Talk to your plant. A generation ago in the back to nature movement, many hippies talked to plants, recognizing them as kindred spirits in the chain of being. Some research indicated that plants grew better when talked to by owners; remember Morticia Adams and her strangling vine in THE ADAMS FAMILY? It may be worth a try to see if your plant grows more when you sing, recite poetry, or merely chat with it.

If despite your best efforts the plant doesn't make it, don't give up. You can always get artificial flowers or enjoy a walk in the park.

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