Caring For Flowering Houseplants

A beautiful houseplant is like a favorite pet or prized possession. They seem to have their own personalities and characteristics. They are unique in many ways and take their own special care. As they grow and mature over the years you come to care for them and to develop a relationship with them. Sometimes when a favorite houseplant dies I feel like I have lost a member of the family. For someone so serious about houseplants, and particularly flowering houseplants, this situation is particularly difficult. A flower is the symbol, at least for me, of beauty and vibrancy. There is a good reason why we give each other flowers at almost any important occasion. The nice thing about flowering houseplants is that they also can help to really brighten a house in the dead of winter. You know how terrible it can be when winter has been around for a while and you want to see something green or colorful. These great plants can provide the color and beauty that you are looking for. Few people realize that these plants can bloom almost constantly or at least several times a year, meaning that you can enjoy the blooms for years to come even in the dead of winter. But how do you care for these amazing plants? Does it require some sort of special care or knowledge?

There are a few things that you should know about caring for flowering houseplants. The first is that each plant will have its own unique set of characteristics and needs. You need to pay close attention to the directions that come with your plant and follow them. Another key is to observe each plant individually and alter your care methods according to what you see. Don’t just continue doing something that doesn’t work.

One of the first things you need to figure out is a watering schedule. Realize that there is such a thing as over watering a plant. Over watering often leads to literally drowning the plant or rotting its roots. Figure out a schedule and then stick with it. Watch and see how your plants do with the schedule and adjust accordingly.

Proper placement of plants also makes a huge difference in terms of their success in your home. Flowering houseplants will probably require a fair amount of sun and warm, humid air (depending on the species). If your plants start to wilt and look sickly consider moving them to another location. Often a draft or exposure to cool air can kill or shock an otherwise healthy flowering houseplant. Watch out for radiators or heating ducts near plants. While these keep your home warm they will probably dry out a flowering houseplant.

Re-potting your flowering houseplants can make a big difference because indoor plants often become root bound and cannot continue to grow. A good sign of this sort of problem is if the plant either doesn’t seem to grow or if when you water it the water just seems to run through the pot. This is a sign that there is little dirt left in the pot and hence little nutrients left for further growth.

Finally, fertilizing your plant regularly will allow it to continue to grow. Be cautious not to over fertilize, as this can damage a plant and lead to death. A little bit of fertilizer here and there can make a huge difference. Just following these basic rules and guidelines will help you to care for your flowering houseplant. You can have wonderful flowers in your home for years to come with a little care and know how.

Growing Dieffenbachia as a Houseplant

Here is one houseplant which is quite popular. Dieffenbachia is grown for its attractive patterned foliage, and is commonly found as a houseplant due to its ability to tolerate shade. However, if you have pets which love to chew houseplants, or you have young children in the house, you may want to skip this one. Once the kids are older and it can be protected from the pets, you may want to consider this one.

Now that we have that warning out of the way, here is more information on the growing of this popular houseplant.

Dieffenbachia are a tropical perennial from the family araceae, which also includes philodendrons, anthurium, caladium, and spahtiphyllum. They are commonly grown for their variegated foliage, which may be varying greens, white, and yellow. Most plants will grow to about 4 feet tall, although plant height of 8 feet has been reported, especially in semitropic and tropical areas. Like all aroids, dieffenbachia will occasionally flower, with very small flowers appearing on an inflorescence called a spadix. A spathe, or hood, often accompanies the spadix and may partially surround it.

Due to their preference of shade, but bright indirect light, dieffenbachia tend to do well as houseplants. Normally near an east or west facing window will supply enough light, but southern windows may provide too much or too direct of sunlight. If near a southern window and leaves appear to yellow and fall off, you may want to try moving it to a more shaded location and see if its condition improves.

Dieffenbachia are tropical plants, and as such prefer a more humid environment. This being said, the base and roots of your dieffenbachia are susceptible to rot caused by overwatering. Let soil mostly dry out between waterings, and your dieffenbachia should not experience root rot. Like all houseplants, if you neglect your dieffenbachia too long though, it will wilt and die from underwatering, so don’t forget about it and don’t get too paranoid about overwatering.

Like all houseplants, you will need to supply fertilizer to your dieffenbachia. A timed release foliage houseplant fertilizer can be used as per instructions, or a liquid fertilizer can be applied when watering once every two to four weeks. Dieffenbachias should be fed during spring through fall.

Another thing to consider, especially if you are a dieffenbachia lover in more extreme climates, is that these particular houseplants do not tolerate extreme cold well. During the winter months, be careful about drafts from windows and doors, which can adversely impact your dieffenbachia.

So, you’ve now kept one of these prime examples of foliage houseplant alive for a while, kept all nearby creatures from snacking on it, and now you’ve decided they’re like a brand name potato chip. You can’t have just one. Here’s how to get another one.

Before I get into propagation, there is one thing I should mention. Any time you work with this plant, especially cutting it, you should thoroughly wash your hands and any surfaces which have come into contact with the cut parts. The easiest way to propagate your dieffenbachia is by air layering. This method involves making a cut in the stem, and applying rooting hormone to the cut. Moist peat or coir is then applied around the stem cut, and is held in place with plastic and twist ties. Once roots are visible near the cut, cut the dieffenbachia stem below the newly formed root ball and plant as normal.

Enjoy the looks of this wonderful plant, and take care to keep it safe from pets and kids, and keep pets and kids safe from it.

Houseplants That Filter the Air We Breathe

The quality of the air we breath and houseplants are becoming closer and closer related everyday. Many physicians recommend a relaxing hobby like gardening for their patients suffering from stress related illnesses. But it has been found that cultivating plants indoors may also lower the risk of asthma, allergies and “Sick Building Syndrome.” The Environmental Protection Agency has cited indoor air pollution as one of the top five public health threats in America, and the main culprit in the sixty percent rise in asthma over the last decade. Now researchers are looking to houseplants for a solution to help with polluted indoor air. With the release of the extensive NASA study on using houseplants to filter air the question is posed: What houseplants will filter air the best? With the exception of the dwarf banana plant which is a fairly unusual plant, the bulk of the list of plants NASA tested reads like a “Who’s Who” of the interior plant world. They are:

· Ficus benjamina known as Weeping fig
· Hedera helix known as English ivy
· Chlorophytum comosum known as spider plant
· Epipiremnum aureum known as golden pothos
· Spathiphyllum “Mauna Loa” known as peace lily
· Aglaonema modestum known as Chinese evergreen
· Chamaedorea sefritzii known as bamboo or reed palm
· Sansevieria trifasciata known as snake plant
· Philodendron scandens oxycardium known as heartleaf philodendron
· Philodendron domesticum known as elephant ear philodendron
· Dracaena marginata known as red-edged dracaena
· Dracaena fragrans Massangeana known as cornstalk dracaena
· Dracaena deremensis known as “Janet Craig”

Using houseplants can be very beneficial in our lives. These plants can purify and renew our stale indoor air by filtering out toxins, pollutants and the carbon dioxide we exhale and best of all replace them with life sustaining oxygen.

Although it can be safe to assume that all plants are capable of removing toxins from our air, the research done by NASA showed that some house plants are more efficient in filtering out toxins than others. The houseplants known as Philodendrons, Spider plants, and Pothos were found to be the most efficient in the removal of formaldehyde. Gerbera Daisies and Chrysanthemums were found to be highly effective in the removal of benzene which is a known carcinogen.

Most plant experts state as a rule of thumb, allow one houseplant per 100 square feet of living area. It is important to keep in mind that the more vigorous the plant, the more air it can filter. Yet it is also important to realize that plants will not do much to alleviate tobacco smoke or dust in the air.

Despite the results of several studies (including NASA’s work) there are skeptics that remain. Some researchers are unconvinced that houseplants can make a real difference in air quality. Many researchers feel that the conditions that were used to study plants in a lab versus a “real life” situation make the results of houseplants filtering air not reliable when placed in the real world. Many researchers also feel that the density of plants needed to make a difference in air quality would be unrealistic within the space confines of home or office.

Researchers who favor the results of houseplants that filter air are working to overcome the obstacles thrown at them by the skeptics. Growing plants hydroponically (in water) overcomes some of the problems stated in terms of space and density and humidity needed. Filters using hydroponic plants, fans and activated charcoal will be on the market within a year, and many researchers feel will improve air purification as much as two hundred-fold. This is due to the fact that hydroponically-grown plants do not produce mold spores, and are easy to maintain. These plants were tested against empty rooms and it was found that in home tests, rooms devoid of plants had airborne microbe levels fifty percent higher than plant-filled rooms.

The debate may rage on as to whether houseplants clean the air or not(and there’s plenty of evidence that they do) but regardless, houseplants will continue to decorate the homes of people who appreciate bringing the outside inside.