Friday, May 13, 2011

Getting Houseplants Right: A Guide to Effective Indoor Plant Care

If you enjoy nature, chances are you also enjoy bringing elements of nature into your home. Houseplants can infuse your living space with natural beauty that - if done correctly - can complement the d├ęcor and lift your mood.

When it comes to caring for plants, there are several primary needs you should address: potting, soil quality, lighting, temperature, moisture, and maintenance. You can address these in needs with six simple steps.

Step 1:

Choose the right pot.
If you are transferring the plant from another pot, be sure to wash thoroughly and spray the pot’s surface with a microbial inoculant as it may harbor harmful bacteria or disease. Be sure to keep your pot size proportionate to the plant it will house. Too large a pot can lead to root disease and too small a pot will prevent the plant from thriving.

Step 2:

Provide the right soil.
Simply filling the pot with outdoor soil is not going to cut it as standard soil does not drain properly. Indoor plants require special potting soil that provides additional nutrients as well as proper aeration and drainage. After placing the potting soil in the pot, lightly pack the soil down around the plants root system and then prime the soil with a light misting of EM1 effective microorganisms.

Step 3:

Find the right spot.
Most houseplants require sunlight to create food via photosynthesis. Depending on the type of plant you are caring for, you will need to make sure the plant is exposed to an adequate amount of sunlight. If possible, place the plant within direct sunlight or move the plant to a windowsill for several hours every day.

Step 4:

Make your home the right environment.
Most plants require temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees during daylight hours. If you want to keep plants healthy, your house needs to stay within this temperature zone. Plants also thrive in around 80% humidity. If you live in a drier environment, consider purchasing a humidifier to make the home most hospitable to your plants. (Bonus: The humid air is also beneficial for human lungs, sinuses and skin.)

Step 5:

Get watering right.
Most houseplant deaths are water related. The plant either receives too much or too little water. There is no set rule of thumb for watering. You want to water plants when they need it. Rather than having a rigid watering schedule, feel the soil every so often. The plant is ready to be watered when the soil feels dry to the touch. For more effective watering, mix in approximately one quarter tablespoon of a microbial incolulant like EM1.

Step 6:

Use the right fertilizer and insecticide.
Every so often, you will need to enhance the houseplant’s soil or combat insects. Unfortunately, many plant fertilizers and insecticides are highly toxic, making them unwelcome products to bring into your home. Only use fertilizers that are organic and natural. Every month spray the plants leaves with a fine mist of EM1 effective microorganisms, which will infuse their mini eco-system with a healthy dose of enzymes, trace minerals and various B-complex vitamins. To safely treat plants for the occasional insect, mix one ounce of 3% hydrogen peroxide in 1 quart of water, and mist plants as needed.

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