Top 10 frequently asked questions about Houseplants

This is a list of some of the questions that I get asked about Houseplants. If you have any other question about houseplants please don’t hesitate to get in contact, you never know it may feature in the spring update.

10. When should I water my Phalaenopsis Orchid?

Most Phalaenopsis are sold in clear pots, which enable you to see the roots growing in the compost. These are the best way to see if the plant needs water, if the roots are silvery and opaque then the plants needs water, when the roots are bright green the plant has plenty of water. To water a Phalaenopsis, fill a bowl with water and submerge the pot for 5 – 10 minutes, then let the water drain out (don’t let the leaves get wet as this can cause them to blacken).

9. What houseplants are suitable for a bathroom?

There are several plants that are suited to growing in the humid atmosphere found in bathrooms, it depends on the amount of sunlight that they will get. Most ferns will grow in dark places but they still need some natural light to survive. Phalaenopsis will grow in a bright room but not in direct sunlight as will Spathifyllum (Peace Lily) and Foliage Begonias. Air plants benefit from a high humidity atmosphere but need good light conditions.

8. How do I care for my cyclamen?

The main thing to do with cyclamen is not to water the top of the plant, as this will cause them to rot off. Sit the pot in water for a few minutes then allow it drain as over watering will also damage the plant. Deadhead as necessary and feed occasionally to prolong the flowering period. Also keeping the plant in a cool room is essential as high temperatures will cause it to wilt.

7. What houseplants can I get that don’t need much care?

Flowering plants such as Kalanchoe (Flaming Katy) and Saint paulia (African Violet) are easy to grow and will flower for a long time. Dracaena marginata (Madagascan Dragon Tree) and Yucca are nice looking palms that are easy to look after and can grow quite large indoors.

6. My Cymbidium has finished flowering, what should I do to get it to flower again?

First of all remove the old flower spikes before the flowers finish, not doing this can result in no flowers the following year. The plant needs temperatures of around 10°C and long periods of darkness to encourage flowering, this can be achieved by placing the plant outside during the summer and bringing it in during September before the temperature drops too far.

5. I got a stephanotis as a present, how do I keep it alive?

Stephanotis need a brightly lit situation but kept out of direct sunlight in the summer and don’t like sudden changes in temperature. Heat should be kept moderate between 16-28°C, preferably at the cooler end during the rest period. Temperatures below 7°C should be avoided.

4. What houseplants can be used to clean the air?

There are several plants that can be used as natural air filters in the home. Hedera helix (English Ivy), Chlorophytum comosum (Spider Plant), Spathiphyllum (Peace Lily), Dracaena marginata (Madagascan Dragon Tree) and Ficus benjamina (Weeping Fig) have all been found to help though it is recommended to have several plants for an affect to be noticed.

3. I want to try growing a Bonsai plant at home how do I care for it?

High humidity is key with indoor Bonsai, sitting them on a tray topped up with gravel and water is the best way to achieve this. The best temperature depends of the type of plant you choose but most will survive an unheated room in winter and a warm room during the summer. Bright light is also useful though not direct sun during the summer as this will scorch the delicate leaves. As there is not much in the way of compost feeding is important, a well balanced fertilizer during the growing season is good with a reduced dose during the winter.

2. How do I keep my Phalaenopsis flowering?

Keeping the humidity high helps prolong the flowers lifespan, this is best achieved by finely misting the flowers. How often depends on how warm the plant gets, during the summer it may be necessary to mist daily. When the flowers have finished and before the stem dies back cut the stem back to the next bud, this will encourage the plant to produce a new set of flower buds instead of having to re-grow a whole new stem which can take up to a year.

1. What is the best way to care for a Poinsettia?

Poinsettias react badly to cold temperatures, even the journey home can be a problem if the plant is not covered in a plant sleeve and the weather is cold. When the plant is in flower it is important to keep the temperature constant and between 12 and 20°C and away from radiators and fires. Water the plant about twice a week to avoid over watering but make sure that it doesn’t dry out.

All the best,
Jonathan

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