How to: Care for your Houseplants

The weather is changing; it was hovering over 39 degrees burning us alive with the heat just two days back and today it is all cloudy and chill. The drastic change in weather is a welcoming change to our moods but not so much for the plants.

Have you noticed how the growth of plants suddenly slows down when seasons change? Just as we adapt ourselves in clothing and eating habits based on the weather condition, it’s important to modify feeding patterns for plants through the year.

In her book on homemaking tips, Household Wisdom, author Stephanie Donaldson writes, “There is a world of difference between a healthy, ?flourishing houseplant and the sad specimens that die a slow, lingering death on the windowsills and mantelpieces of far too many homes. The mortality rate among houseplants is staggeringly high. Half the fatalities are killed by kindness such as overwatering and and overfeeding, while the other half starve to death — an occasional splash of water and no feed.”

Here are some tricks that have worked for me:

1. Group the plants together.

2. Develop a watering pattern for every season. Check the moisture content in the pot by inserting your finger in the soil before you water. If you’ve placed the pot in a saucer, then the roots will remain moist for more than a day. If you’ve been watering every evening during summer and continue to do so even during the monsoon, then the plants are bound to die a slow death.

3. Some plants require a lot of sunlight while others thrive well in shade. However, avoid keeping any plant directly in sunlight. South-facing windows or balconies receive more sunlight during the day than the north-facing ones. Choose your plants based on the location of your balcony or garden.

4. The compost in soil when you get plants from a nursery lasts for a maximum of six weeks.Some plants such as money plant do not require any manure while others can grow at a faster rate with manure.  Tea leaves, vegetable and fruit skins work well as manure.

5. Beware of pests. I’ve lost way too many plants to pests. Check the underneath of leaves for any signs and spray a pesticide at least once in three months.

6. Remove the yellow leaves regularly. Yellow leaves are not signs of a dying plant. Old leaves give way to new leaves.

What are your tricks of caring for houseplants?