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Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Houseplants Needs

Several factors influence your success with indoor plants. The key factors for plant growth are light, temperature, humidity, and water.

1. Proper Light

Light is essential for plant growth and can be one of the most limiting factors for success with houseplants. Both the amount and the quality of light are important.

Light intensity refers to brightness and is measured in foot-candles, which is defined as the amount of light that one candle produces, measured one foot away. Outdoors, the amount of sunlight that is cast may be 10,000 - 12,000 foot-candles. Indoors, the amount of light that enters the room is only a small amount. While most plants will perform best with bright light conditions, some plants can tolerate moderate to low light conditions.

2. Temperature

Most foliage plants prefer day temperatures between 65 degrees and 75 degrees with night temperatures usually 5 to 10 degrees lower. Avoid extreme temperature changes, such as cold and hot air blasts from windows, radiators, heating and air conditioning vents. Take special care near cold window panes too. Cold glass can damage foliage.

3. Water

How much water a plant needs is influenced by several factors. Not only is the individual plant size and species important, but also the growing conditions. Light, temperature, humidity, container type, container size, and finally soil type all influence the speed of growth and therefore the amount of water needed.

It is best to look up individual plant types for their watering needs. Typically, you will see the following descriptions under water requirements: plants enjoy constantly moist, but not soggy wet soil; plants prefer to have soil allowed to dry moderately between waterings; or plants prefer very slightly moist soil at all times. The succulents and cacti have differing needs during their growth cycle.

4. Humidity

During the winter, most homes have less than 30 percent humidity and some houseplants may suffer. Humidity can be increased with a humidifier. Setting plants on pebbles in a water-filled tray increase humidity too. Make sure the pots are not sitting directly in water. Another technique is to group plants together which improves the humidity immediately surrounding them.

Misting plants does not always work well. The humidity level is affected for only a short time and repeated misting is necessary. While some plants tolerate misting, other plants do not. With too much misting, the incidence of disease may increase.


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