Houseplants are beautiful additions to your home. Many varieties are available--some with colorful leaves, interesting textures and some with flowers. Houseplants aren't just attractive, they add to the oxygen content of the air. Most houseplants are tropical and fairly easy to grow. However, when you're growing anything, problems can arise. Learn the needs of your individual plant and it will reward you for years to come.
Insufficient drainage, heavy soils or over-watering can all cause root rot. Your plant may lose its leaves, begin to wilt or the leaves may turn brown and wither. If you suspect root rot, remove the plant from its container. Healthy roots are white. Cut off any roots that appear slimy or have blackened tips. Replant in a new container with adequate drainage using a loose, porous soil. Although each houseplant has varying moisture needs, a good rule of thumb is to always let the top of the soil dry out between waterings.
Over-feeding is as much a problem as under feeding. Too much fertilizer will cause an accumulation of salts in your plant's soil. You may see a white or yellow crust on the surface of the soil, and the tips of the leaves may turn brown. Not enough nutrients and your plant leaves will turn pale green or turn brown and dry up. To avoid both of these situations, follow the recommended doses on the label of the fertilizer and always water well after fertilizing.
Houseplants aren't immune to insect invasion. Mealy bugs, spider mites or scale can attack your houseplant. Some of these insects are hard to spot. Look for speckled or discolored leaves or thin webbing to indicate spider mites. Mealy bugs and scale will leave a white or sticky substance on the leaves. Healthy plants are less likely to be infected. Washing the top and undersides of the leaves frequently will help prevent insect infestation. Separate infected plants and treat with insecticidal soap or miticidal soap.
Before you purchase your plant, determine how much light it needs to grow. Most plants need bright, indirect light for at least six hours a day. Insufficient light can cause leaves to yellow. Too much, or direct light, will cause leaves to brown or "burn." Periodically check the temperature of the soil. Direct light on the plant's container can heat the soil considerably and damage the plant's roots.
Inside the home, plants are subject to an artificial atmosphere. This causes problems, especially in the winter when heating the home causes a drop in humidity. Your plant's leaves may turn brown on the tips or even fall off. To provide the humidity plants need, group plants together and place a humidifier nearby or place the plants in a tray filled with pebbles and a small amount of water.