What Is A House Plant?

A house plant is a flowering perennial plant native to most temperate regions of the world. They are usually small (less than 5 inches tall) but they can reach heights up to 6 feet or so! Most house plants have stems with five to seven leaflets, which make them look like miniature trees. Some species even produce flowers when grown indoors. All house plants need light and moisture, but some require more attention than others. For example, some plants like succulents may not tolerate high humidity levels and will die if left outside all day long. Other house plants, such as ferns and mosses, thrive in low humidity conditions.

Houseplants are often used for decoration because they’re easy to keep alive and look pretty. However, many houseplants don’t last very long once grown indoors due to lack of sunlight or poor lighting conditions.

If you want your houseplants to live longer, you’ll need to provide proper lighting.

How Do You Know Which House Plants Are Good For Growing?

There are several factors that go into choosing the best house plants for growing indoors. These include:

Size – Many house plants are too large for their size and won’t survive in an average home environment. Size is also dependent upon what kind of plant it is.

For example, an African Violet can grow to up to 8 inches in height and may need more space than a smaller plant.

Lighting Needs – How much sunlight does the plant need to survive?

Some plants only require 2 to 3 hours of direct sunlight each day while others may need as much as 12 hours. Too little or too much light can be detrimental to a plant’s health and may cause it to wither and die long before its time.

Watering Needs – All plants need water to survive. How often and how much water a plant needs varies from species to species.

For example, most succulents only need water once every few weeks while other plants may require daily watering.

Soil – Different plants require different types of soil. Most plants grow best in loamy soil that is high in organic matter.

Some plants grow better in sandier soil while others prefer soil that contains more clay.

Special Care – Some plants require special care such as pruning roots or stems, extra humidity, protection from direct sunlight, etc. If you don’t provide this special care, your plant may become sick and eventually die.

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Light Requirements

Most house plants need a lot of light to survive and will become weak and unhealthy if they don’t get enough light. However, it is very easy to provide too much light which can actually kill the plant.

It’s a fine line, but you can easily measure the light a plant is receiving with the help of a light meter. If a plant is receiving too much light, it will start getting sunburn which will eventually scar and kill the plant tissue. If there isn’t enough light, the leaves will appear to be very pale and almost white in color.

There are two types of light that can damage a house plant: UV Rays and Heat.

UV Rays

This is the light you can see which comes directly from the sun. This type of light can be measured with a light meter and should be kept at a minimum of 50% or less.

UV rays are responsible for making things look like they have more contrast (such as how a picture looks when it’s been whitened) and is what causes sunburns in humans. If you’re looking to get a light meter, the Kirk Enterprises 2160 is one of the best ones on the market.

Heat

This type of light cannot be seen and can potentially kill a plant within a few hours if the temperature gets too hot. This is more common in rooms that do not have windows (such as a walk-in closet) or if the curtains are blocking all of the windows in the room (such as in a basement).

You can test for heat with a thermometer or by placing your hand near the plant. If you notice that your hand is starting to feel hot, this means the temperature is too high and you should move the plant further away from the light source or provide shade to reflect some of the heat away.

Watering Needs

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How often a plant needs to be watered depends on how big the pot is, what type of soil is being used and how much water the plant is able to soak up. The easiest way to know when to water a plant is to check the soil.

Pick up the pot and shake it lightly. If you notice that the soil feels very loose and you can see chunks of dirt then it’s time to water the plant. If the soil still feels very firm and it’s difficult to see any dirt then the plant doesn’t need water. Most plants will have a preferred watering schedule (such as once every two weeks or once a month) written either on the tag that it was bought with or near the tag. If you can’t find this information, a good rule of thumb is to water once every two weeks.

Soil

Most plants come with soil already in the pot, but sometimes they don’t and you’ll need to provide your own. The type of soil you use is very important as it can help keep the plant healthy and extend its life span.

There are three main types of soil you can get: regular potting soil, peat moss and orchid bark. It is always best to use a mix of all three because each one provides something different that helps the plant.

Peat moss or orchid bark are often used as a substitute for soil and can be found at most garden centers. These two products work very well by themselves, but it is always best to use a mix of each of them with potting soil.

This is because they tend to retain a lot of moisture and can suffocate the roots if used by themselves.

Watering Cans

You should try to use a watering can when giving your plant a drink. This is because most water bottles will have a small opening which not only makes it more difficult to water the plant, but also causes the soil to get too wet.

A simple watering can you can pick up at any store for less than $10. If you’re giving your plant a lot of water, then it would be a good idea to use a bigger container such as a bucket.

Water Fasts

It’s not uncommon for plants to need a break from water every once in awhile. This is because soil retains moisture and will keep the roots from drying out.

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This is especially common in areas with a lot of humidity. The plant will tell you when it needs a water fast as it will start to droop or the leaves will begin to curl upwards. You should move the plant to a room that has the most ambient light without direct sunlight and keep the soil barely moist. This means you shouldn’t water it for at least a week or two weeks. It can be longer, but don’t overdue it. If the leaves begin to turn yellow, discontinue the water fast and water as you normally would.

Fertilizer

Proper nutrition is very important for your plant. Most come with fertilizer, but if yours didn’t then make sure you get some.

The ratio for most fertilizer is 10-30-10 and that means it has the following percentages of nitrogen, phosphate and potash. These chemicals will help keep your plant healthy and ward off diseases that may commonly attack it. Always read the instructions on the packaging of the fertilizer and apply as directed. Never over do it because this can cause more harm than good.

Re-Potting

This is something that should be done every few years to allow the plant to grow larger. Most people buy a new pot that’s bigger than the old one, but this isn’t always necessary.

If the size of the plant has reached a point where its root system can no longer grow, then it’s time to re-pot. The best time frame for this is when spring is beginning and also just as fall begins. This allows the plant to grow all season long and have plenty of time to get used to its new pot. It would be best to consult a professional at this point to help you with the procedure.

Repotting

This refers to a time when the plant needs to be put into a bigger pot than what it is currently in. This usually happens when you first get the plant and every few years after that.

The reason for this is because the roots of the plant will eventually fill up the pot it’s in, preventing it from getting the water and nutrients it needs to survive.

Propagation

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Propagating a plant means to increase its numbers. In regards to houseplants, this is usually done through leaf cuttings.

Most plants will send out little roots from anyplace a leaf is touching the soil. All you have to do is take a leaf (preferably one that hasn’t been damaged in any way) and cut the leaf so that there is some of the petiole attached. Keep this in a cup of water like you would with new seeds. It’s a good idea to label the cup so you know which plant the leaf came from. Place the cup in a well lit area but not in direct sunlight since this could cook the delicate little leaflets.

In six to eight weeks, you should see little roots in the cup. At this point, it’s safe to transplant them into soil.

It’s a good idea to prune the roots back quite a bit before placing them in soil because they can become tangled and knotted if not.

Once you place the cuttings in soil, put them in a warm and bright location (but not in direct sunlight since this can cook the leaves) to encourage growth. After about a month, you should have strong enough plants to be transplanted into your garden or into larger pots and then eventually to the outdoors.

This is a very simple way to grow new plants. It’s not uncommon for some species to be difficult to propagate via cuttings, in which case you can always buy more plants and you can also take leaf-pullings (this is where you pull a leaf off the plant and it roots where it once was attached).

This method is especially useful for certain species of schefflera and rubber trees.

Pruning

This is a very important task that keeps your plants looking their best and staying healthy. Most plants grown indoors need to be pruned at least once every year.

Time of year and size of the plant determine how much to prune, but as a rule of thumb: prune dead or dying branches and any crossing branches. Always make sure you cut back far enough that the wound will heal over.

Sources & references used in this article:

Cheap And Easytm Houseplants: Indoor Gardening for Everyone. by B Boughner – 2006 – books.google.com

Plant growth regulators effects on the growth and photosynthetic pigments on three indoor ornamental plants by AS Sardoei – Eur. J. Exp. Biol, 2014 – researchgate.net

Plant Parenting: Easy Ways to Make More Houseplants, Vegetables, and Flowers by LF Halleck – 2019 – books.google.com

Preparing Cut Flowers and Houseplants for Exhibits by CL Haynes – 2007 – lib.dr.iastate.edu

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