Practical Ways to Look After House Plants


Myself By T.V. Antony Raj


House Plants

Are you worrying much about nursing your houseplants? Here are a few details for you to consider.

1. Water

Over-watering destroys many houseplants. Appearances are misleading. Use the finger test to make sure the garden soil is dried up to water. Push the index finger up to the first joint into the soil. If it the soil is damp, do not water it.

2. Nutrients

Watching plant growth, testing the soil, and analyzing the plant tissue are ways to assess nutrient needs.

Sixteen elements are vital for plant growth. Each of these 16 elements has a specific role in plant growth. A deficiency or an excess of any element will impair plant growth.

Six macro nutrients: nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K), calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), and sulfur (S) are needed in quite large amounts. Of these, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (NPK) are the elements usually applied as fertilizer.

Seven micro nutrients: boron (B), chlorine (Cl), copper (Cu), iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), molybdenum (Mo), and zinc (Zn), are required in smaller amounts.

The other three carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen are freely available. These nutrients are supplied by water and carbon dioxide.

Iron and manganese are the micro- nutrients most often deficient in landscape plants. An adjustment in soil pH usually corrects deficiencies of the micro nutrients .


A fertilizer is any organic or inorganic material of natural or synthetic origin that is added to soil to supply one or more plant nutrients essential to the growth of plants.

Fertilizers may be divided into two broad categories, natural and synthetic. Natural fertilizers generally originate from unprocessed organism sources such as plants or animals. Synthetic fertilizers can be organic (for example, urea) or inorganic (for example, superphosphate).

Commercial fertilizer is graded by the minimum amounts of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (in the form P2O), and potassium (in the form K2O) contained in them. Many States in US require that the guaranteed analysis of every fertilizer material be declared on the face or display side of the container. This analysis provides the percentage of nitrogen (N), available phosphorus (expressed as percent P2O5), water soluble potassium (expressed as percent K2O) and other nutrients present in quantities that conform to state law.

A fertilizer with a 10-10-10 analysis contains 10 percent nitrogen, 10 percent P2O, and 10 percent K2O. For example, in 100 pounds of 4-8-12, there are 4 pounds of N, 8 pounds of P2O, and 12 pounds of K2O.

Foliage plants usually have high nitrogen needs, while flowering plants, K2O is needed. Slow release fertilizers can be mixed with the compost. However, certain plants like cacti and orchids need special fertilizer. Feed plants during their most active growth period.

3. Daylight

Sansevieria hyacinthoides (L.) Druce
Sansevieria hyacinthoides (L.) Druce

Aspidistra elatior
Aspidistra elatior

Sansevieria is a genus of about 70 species of flowering plants; whose common names include mother-in-law’s tongue, devil’s tongue, jinn’s tongue, bow string hemp, snake plant and snake tongue. Aspidistra is a genus of flowering plants native to Asia, common worldwide as house plants. Plants like Sanseveria and Aspidistra require no sunlight. They may be placed far from the window.

 Spider Plant - Chlorophytum comosum 'Vittatum'
Spider Plant – Chlorophytum comosum ‘Vittatum’

Chlorophytum comosum, often called the spider plant, is an herbaceous plant. It is native to tropical and southern Africa, but has become naturalized in other parts of the world, including western Australia and San Francisco, California. Variegated forms, in particular, are used as house plants. Spider plants require semi-shade. You can keep plants such as these close to a window that does or cannot receive the sunlight. They may be placed far from the window. Spider plants require semi-shade. You can keep plants such as those close to a window that does or cannot receive the sunlight.

4. Weather

Houseplants are capable of surviving in cool or warm weather; still severe fluctuations of temperatures may not be beneficial to them. What many plants are not able to survive is gas home heating. Should there be a plant that needs a warm environment, don’t place it close to an air-conditioning unit during the summer months.

5. Humidity

A few houseplants need a humid surroundings. A strategy to increase humidity would be to place the plant pot in a bigger vessel and fill the gaps with pebbles or even manure to retain in the moisture. Clustering around plants together very often produce a micro climate that will benefit them.  If you need, you can also sprinkle them with water a couple of times a day depending on the prevailing weather.

6. Re-potting

A few plants need to be re-potted for exceptional rate of growth; however, some others resent having their roots disturbed. Perhaps their root system might be small that they don’t really need re-potting. A way to determine whether the plant requires re-potting is to turn it upside down. Tap the pot to release the plant and examine its roots. In case roots are all that you can see, then re-pot. Occasionally, the roots may come out of the pot. It is best to either cut them off or re-pot the plant.



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