By Janet Laminack, County Extension Agent-Horticulture
Today I write about foliage houseplants, telling you everything that I know. It shan’t take long. Most of our houseplants are tropical plants that naturally grow in the understory of forests. We have snagged these plants and put them in our homes because they have low (or lower) light demands. That also means that our houseplants do not enjoy our cold winter days. Being tropical, they cannot survive freezing temperature. Some might even be sensitive to temperatures in the 40s.
Our summers are certainly warm enough, that a tropical houseplant can thrive on the patio or outside. The risk you take there is sunburn. Moving a plant from inside the house to direct sunlight is going to damage the plant in most cases. You need to slowly move it from low light to direct light, incrementally over time.
But, I would encourage you to just keep a houseplant a houseplant. For the most part, we want houseplants to grow slowly and just be nice and green. We have all seen houseplants that have become too large and out of control. While it is fun to live in an indoor jungle, most of us have to rehome these monster plants so that we can use our kitchen table, etc.
Ready for the secret to growing healthy houseplants? It is in how you water them.
The best method is to soak the plant well, letting the water run out the bottom of the container. You might want to put the plant in a sink or bathtub for that. Return the plant to its proper location, hopefully with a saucer under it. Then wait to water again until the plant has mostly dried out.
A little bit of water every day is not what most of our plants desire. A nice, deep soak (but a soak that drains out) also removes salts that build up in the soil. You don’t have to do this deep soak every time you water, but I do recommend doing it a few times a year, especially if the leaves of your plants have brown edges or tips.
If you yearn for more excitement in your home, there are blooming houseplants such as African violets, orchids, bromeliads, amaryllis to name a few. The care for a blooming plant is going to be different, since you are encouraging growth.
And there you have it, all my houseplant secrets. The Master Gardener help desk is well-prepared to answer your houseplant questions. Send them a text, email, or give them a call at 940.349.2892 or [email protected].