Caring for your Houseplants and Indoor Plants
Houseplants are the 'growing' trend for those living an urban lifestyle and with the plants comes the requirement for care and maintenance to keep them healthy.
Every home needs a plant or two for dull or dark spaces that can so easily be enhanced with the right indoor plant. Not only do houseplants bring colour and texture into a home, but they also contribute towards creating a healthy, happy living environment. If you are keen to bring home a couple of indoor plants to liven up your living spaces, this guide on caring for houseplants is just for you! Always keep in mind that houseplants require 3 essential things: good potting soil, the perfect amount of light and the right watering schedule.
They might look fantastic on Instagram and pin-worthy on Pinterest, but even the most dedicated plant enthusiast suffers a death or two along the way. Knowing how to care for your indoor plants and understanding what might go wrong is a step in the right direction towards lush, green and healthy plants. In this article, we offer advice on caring for and preventing any problems that may arise.
Plant problems to look out for:
- Buds dropping off
- Leaves going brown
- Drooping leaves
- Yellow leaves
- Root rot
Factors that cause problems with indoor plants:
Despite what you may think is the perfect place for your new plants, there are several factors to take into consideration that may cause one or more of these problems...
- Insufficient light
- Too much light
- Lack of humidity
How to treat common indoor plant problems:
• Buds dropping off
As the name implies, the is when flower buds drop off the plant before they have a chance to bloom. This phenomenon is also known as 'bud blast'. Most prevalent with orchids, what was a promising green bud slowly turn yellow and brown before dropping off the plant. When newly-formed buds drop off before they have the chance to open, this is due to energy being expended elsewhere within the plant, leaving very little to produce new buds and flowers.
- GOOD TO KNOW: Do not water your indoor plants with hot or cold water, as this can bring on bud drop.
- Other causes for bud drop include:
- - Too little or too much light
- - Too much watering or under-watering
- - Extreme temperature fluctuations
- - Lack of humidity
- - Age of the plants
- Remedy for bud drop:
- - Ensure sufficient lighting according to plant.
- - Prevent drafts or temperature extremes.
- - Regularly remove any dead foliage or stems.
- - Re-pot when necessary.
• Leaves going brown
When leaves go brown it is generally an indication of too little or too much water. However, it could also be a sign of lack of humidity or insufficient air circulation around the plant and root system.
- Other causes for browning of leaves include:
- - Root stress caused by irregular fertilizing or over-fertilizing.
- - Lack of humidity
- - Insufficient air circulation around plant and root system
- Remedy for browning leaves:
- - Remove brown leaves or browning edges.
- - Adjust watering schedule to compensate for over- or under-watering.
- - Try misting the plant to increase humidity level.
- - Ensure plant has plenty of drainage.
- GOOD TO KNOW: You can test the soil is over-watered by checking at the base of the plant. If this is too wet, you may be watering too regularly.
• Drooping Leaves
If the leaves on a plant are wilting or drooping it's a sure sign that the plant is thirsty and in need of water. When the soil is too dry, nutrients cannot be absorbed into the plant and it will droop. In the case of too much water, this brings on the problem of carrying oxygen to the rest of the plant which can result in root rot.
- • Main causes for drooping leaves:
- - Irregular watering schedule. Check for under- or over-watering.
- - Direct sunlight on the leaves.
- - Exposure to drafts.
- • Remedy for drooping leaves:
- - Adjust watering schedule.
- - Place the plant in a position to avoid direct sunlight.
• Yellowing Leaves
This common problem has quite a few underlying factors that could be causing the condition. It could be due to of over- or under-watering, a position that has too much or too little light, age of the plant or even nutrient deficiencies.
- GOOD TO KNOW: Check the dampness at the root level by using a pine skewer pushed down to the base of the plant pot. If the skewer comes out wet at the tip, this is a sure sign that you are over-watering - the opposite would be true of under-watering.
- • Main causes for yellowing leaves:
- - Over- or under-watering.
- - Too much or too little light
- - Age of plant
- • Remedy for yellowing leaves:
- - Check lighting and watering conditions for this plant.
- - Adjust watering schedule.
- - Position plant for maximum or minimum light requirements.
• Root Rot
When a house plant displays bark peeling from stems or trunk, or brown crusty leaves, this is a sign that the plant is suffering from 'wet feet' or that there is poor drainage at the base of the plant. Similar signs may also be displayed as a cause of under-watering. If you want to test for this condition, push a pine skewer down to the base of the plant pot. If the skewer comes out wet at the tip, this is a sure sign that you are over-watering - the opposite would be true of under-watering.
- Main causes of root rot:
- - Over- and under-watering of the plant.
- - Congested root growth at the base of the pot.
- - Poor drainage.
- Remedy for root rot:
- - Drill  3mm diameter holes through the side of the pot approximately 50mm up from the bottom to allow water drainage and improve air circulation.
- - Re-pot the plant into a pot with drainage holes and add a layer of small stones or pebbles.
Find more information on plants and gardens at lifestyle.co.za.