Basic Plant Care

Though plant needs vary almost as much as plant types, being well versed in basic plant care can help you keep your plants alive and flourishing. Growing a garden, window boxes, or even just keeping potted plants around the house can add a touch of beauty to your life and even help alleviate day-to-day stress. However, if you’ve ever kept a houseplant before, you know that sometimes keeping it alive is more difficult than it may at first seem.

Light
Determine the level of light your plant needs. Most potted plants you buy
come with a tag that lets you know the ideal light conditions for your plant to grow. Indoor plants that need a lot of direct light should be placed near a south-facing window. Especially during the winter, south facing windows provide the most light during the day.

Generally, flowering houseplants should be placed near east-facing windows,
as these will provide your plants with moderate amounts of light but not more heat than they can stand. If you are growing plants outside, be cognizant of where the shade falls at different times of day.

Water
Over or under watering is the top reason why household plants die. The best way to prevent this is to check whether your plants need water before watering them, even if it has been a day or two since you last came by with your watering can. Touch the soil gently with your fingertip. If it is still damp, put the water away.

Depending on the humidity of the room you keep your plant in, it might take a long time or not very long at all for a plant to use all the water it has been given and to need more. Be aware of the temperature in the room and your plant’s individual needs.

If the leaves and stems of your flower or plant are wilting, that is generally a
sign that it is not getting enough water. If you do not know your specific plant’s water needs, you can usually look them up online on a garden website. As a general rule of thumb, however, if it’s dry, water it.  It can also be beneficial to your plants to occasionally mist them with water from a spray bottle.

Temperature
It is important to keep your home at a consistent temperature that plants
can stand. Though specific plant needs can vary, most houseplants thrive at temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and slightly below 65 degrees at night. Temperatures much higher or lower than these tend to kill houseplants.

Feeding
Keep your plants fertilized by mixing liquid plant food in your regular plant
water about every two to three weeks. This is most effective when your plant is growing--during the spring and summertime. You can buy liquid plant food at any home and garden store, and sometimes even at grocery stores during the summer months. A good plant fertilizer will typically contain nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium, three minerals that outdoor plants would normally get from the soil, but that indoor plants are unable to.

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