Indoor plants not only add a decorator's touch to living spaces, but they add the health benefits of cleaner air. Many plant enthusiasts like the convenience of doing all their gardening indoors. Anyone can develop a green thumb by following a few simple rules. Houseplants are easy to grow and take up little of your time.
Buy Healthy Houseplants
Take a magnifying glass along with you to the garden center and inspect the plant closely before handing over your cash. Look for any insects that might be hiding under leaves or leaves that are brown or yellow. Feel the leaves for any sticky residue. Check for powdery white substances. Make sure there aren't any gnats flying around the plant. All of these conditions suggest disease.
Isolate the Plant
Repot your new plant in a commercial potting soil. Never use dirt from the ground on a houseplant, or you may introduce insects and diseases into your home.
Keep your new plant quarantined for two to three weeks if you have other houseplants. This avoids passing diseases and insects along to your well-established healthy plants.
Water your houseplant carefully. Most novice houseplant owners over-water--and over-watering kills plants. If your new plant lacks instructions, look it up on the Internet to find out its watering needs and other growth requirements.
Keep the plant out of drafts. Houseplants don't like cold summer air conditioning or winter heat blowing on it. This will cause the leaves to turn brown.
Keep the air moist if your plant requires high humidity. Some plants, like ferns, need higher humidity. Shower with your plant. Each time you take a shower, take the plant with you and hang it in the bathroom. At other times, keep a spray bottle handy to spritz the leaves regularly.
Inspect plants regularly for insect problems. The most common occur with scale insects and aphids.The damage from scale insects appears as leaf yellowing, leaf drop and sticky residue on the leaves. Apply horticulture oil, which smothers the adult insects. Aphids also leave a sticky residue. Easily control aphids with insecticidal soap, or horticultural oil. Other harmful insects are mealy bugs, whiteflies and fungus gnats. Spray these bugs with insecticidal soap also.
Buy an all-purpose houseplant fertilizer and fertilize according to the label instructions. If your plant bears flowers, use a fertilizer specifically formulated for blooming houseplants.
Repot most houseplants when they become root-bound. Some plants grow best when they are root-bound, so research recommendations for your particular plant. Use a commercial potting soil when repotting.