Houseplants have different needs than outdoor ones. Houseplants are kept in pots for one thing, and they receive their light through windows. Here are some tips on keeping them healthy, and some common problems and natural solutions.
1. Fertilize your houseplants by spreading some compost over the top of the soil. As you water, the compost will work its way down into the soil.
2. Allow the soil to dry out between watering. Because they are in pots, houseplants are prone to over-watering. Their roots will rot, and you will see yellow leaves on the plant if they are over-watered.
3. When you do water, do so thoroughly. Make sure the water comes out of the drainage hole at the bottom of the pot. Rainwater is ideal, or you can use filtered or bottled water, or the water from a dehumidifier. If all you have is tap water, let it sit overnight in an open container before pouring it on your plants.
4. Aerate the soil by gently poking and stirring it. Potted plants’ soil can get hard and compacted if it is not loosened by aeration. This also helps prevent root rot.
5. Re-pot your houseplants periodically. As their roots grow, they will need larger containers. They may also need fresh soil from time to time. You can also trim the roots of some species instead of moving them to larger containers.
6. Make sure your plants are getting enough light. South or east-facing windows are best. Turn your plants if you see them slanting toward the light source. If you don’t have enough natural light, invest in a grow light. Hang it over the plants and keep it on for 8-12 hours a day.
7. Be very gradual if you move your houseplants outdoors during warm weather and back indoors when it gets cold. As the weather cools, start by putting the plants indoors only at night. Then, put them inside for a few hours each day, increasing the time the plants are indoors every few days. As warmer weather comes on, start by moving plants outdoors during the day for a few hours at a time.
Some Common Houseplant Problems And How to Solve Them Naturally
1. If you suspect insect infestation or want to prevent it, here are some natural ways to keep bugs from destroying your houseplants.
- Bay leaves are an effective bug repellent. Break up a few leaves and sprinkle them over the top of your houseplant’s soil. Or lay bay leaves around the base of the pot.
- Neem oil is a natural insecticide. You can buy a concentrated form of neem and add it to water, or buy a commercial neem-based insecticide.
- Soap insecticide is very effective, especially against white fly and aphids. Use one teaspoon of natural liquid soap to one quart of water, mix, and spray on plants. Make sure to get under the leaves as well. If the problem is very bad, cover the pot with your hands and turn the plant upside-down into a pan of soapy water. This will dip all the foliage into the solution.
2. Fungus can be controlled by the above-mentioned neem oil. You can also use a tablespoon or two of vinegar to one gallon of water to make a fungicide.