Enjoy time indoors with houseplants

This weather feels much better than the arctic blast 10 days ago when we were flirting with zero lows. Imagine how cold it felt for your trees, shrubs and other plants who were stuck outside and couldn’t cuddle up with a blanket by the fire. I am certain we will see some plant damage from these extended cold temperatures.

Don’t get too anxious and start removing trees, shrubs or plants you suspect are damaged. Wait until spring to see what leafs out before taking action. They will be less likely to dehydrate and freeze if the soil is mulched and not real dry so water periodically throughout the winter to keep the soil slightly moist.

We are all spending more time inside with all this cold weather so this is a great time to really enjoy your houseplants. Add a few more plants to your collection to help clean up the inside air, produce oxygen and to provide some life, décor and excitement to your home. There are hundreds of nice plants that grow well indoors and the key issues for success usually are light, water and humidity.

Most house plants do better with more light but many like philodendron ivy, pothos ivy, spathiphyllum, dracaena, aglaonema and ficus will tolerate low light and although they will grow slow, stay attractive and interesting for long periods in lower light. The best light is good indirect light from an east window or set back slightly from south or west windows. Many plants will also perform well under 12 or more hours daily of good artificial light.

Many house plant “farmers” tend to overwater their plants. Most house plants are more tolerant of running dry than too wet.  A good rule of thumb is to keep the soil on the dry side, particularly during these colder and darker winter months.  Remember that the more light you’ve got ,the more water the plant will use for photosynthesis and the more often water will be needed.  House plants usually need water once a week or less.

Humidity is often the key to keeping your house plants really happy. In the winter we have very dry air and all but cactus or succulents will benefit from an occasional or even daily misting of the foliage with a light mist of water. You can make an inexpensive but effective plant humidifier by filling a saucer or tray with gravel or stones and pouring a little water to stand between the stones under your pots and evaporate around the plants.

Visit your local garden center or florist and try out a new houseplant or get one that brings back memories of your grandparents or travels.

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