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17979 State Route 536
Mt. Vernon, WA 98273
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Keeping Your Houseplants Happy
By Carol Yaw
  1. Choose your plants and their locations wisely. Know your climate conditions. Choose the right plant for the amount of light, temperature, and humidity you can offer.
  1. Water - The preferred practice is to soak the plant’s whole root ball, not pour water on top soil. Take the plant to a sink and soak it several times. Let it drain and then return it to its home. Alternately water it to fill a saucer under the plant. Check in about 10 minutes. Give it more water if the water has been absorbed. Discard any excess water.
    Use room temperature tap water. Testing has shown that chlorine is only damaging to plants at high concentrations. Fluoride, however, does turn leaf tips brown on sensitive plants like palms, dracaenas, spider plants, so if your area adds fluoride, use rainwater or distilled water. Water weekly for most plants, less in the dead of winter when growth slows.

  2. Humidity - The most important key to successful houseplants in winter. Most houseplants' natural habitat is the tropical rainforests, our winter homes are like dry deserts for them. Misting the top and bottom of leaves in the morning, or setting them on humidity trays or saucers filled with pebbles and some water is helpful. Regularly wiping the foliage with a damp cloth helps raise humidity as well as removing dust and preventing pests and disease.

  3. Fertilizer - Use water-soluble fertilizer at ¼ strength and apply each time you water. During winter cut back both on water and food.

  4. Light - East or west windows are good for most houseplants. In the winter, even southern exposure may not be enough for cactus, succulents, orchids and blooming plants, which do better with supplemental grow lights. To add more "Indoor Sunshine" check out Lighting.

  5. Pests- Watch for whiteflies, aphids and mites. Wipe them off with a wet rag or cotton swab. Pick off scale with a toothpick. Rinse or heavily mist plant and isolate from others. Keep a good insecticidal soap on hand for backup.

  6. Repotting - Go up one pot size. See Transplanting Tips - Indoor Plants.