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How to take care of Indoor Plants
Research by Content Manager

Purchasing your Plants
The most important thing to remember is that the plants you select must be compatible with the environment you provide. Choose plants whose foliage is rich green and uniform in color. Inspect the plant for pests, such as mealy bugs, spider mites and worms. Check the label for the mature height of the plant. Make sure that it is not too tall for the location in your home. Look for signs of plant damage, such as broken stems or torn leaves. Look for healthy new growth. For greater success make sure that the suggested light conditions of the plant match those found in your home.

Maintaining Your Plants
Light, temperature, water, and nutrition are the main factors affecting plant growth. When possible, select plants that are known to be successful for interior use.  Make sure your plants have sufficient light. Growing plants indoors can be a challenge, since light intensity is often very low. If using artificial light, plan to provide light for 12 - 16 hours. This number is likely to be higher for flowering plants. A sunny southern exposure will provide extra light for plants that need high levels of light. Be on the lookout for phototropism (the tendency for plants to grow in the direction of the highest light) rotate your plants periodically to avoid a lopsided look.

Temperature
Most indoor plants grow well under typical conditions in the office and home. The ideal temperature is about an average of 70F / 21C degrees.
Avoid drafty areas such as doorways and air conditioner vents.
Temperatures that are too high can cause plants to wilt quickly.

Water and fertilizer
Over watering is a common problem with interior plants - when in doubt do not water! It is easier for a plant to recover from under watering than it is for it to recover from over watering. Use your finger or a soil probe to check your plants' need for water. Probe into the soil as far as possible.  A good rule-of-thumb is to water until the water comes out the bottom of the container. A balanced slow release fertilizer (14-14-14) works best for your interior plants. Look for one that lasts three or four months. For a quick green up try a 20-20-20 analysis liquid fertilizer mixed at half strength.

Caring for your plants
Keeping your plants free of pests and keeping the plants in good condition are important factors in interior plant care. The most common insects that attack plants indoors are mealybugs, scale, and mites. Inspect the your plant's leaves regularly for these pests. Don't forget to check the underside of the leaves, as this is a favorite spot for insects to hide. Using a soapy solution to clean the plant leaves regularly is beneficial. A spray of soap and water about three-tbsp. soap to one gallon of water can control many insects. Root rots and other soil diseases are caused by overwatering. Periodically check the plants' roots to ensure that they are a healthy white color, not brown and mushy. Removing yellow leaves improves the appearance of your plants greatly. An occasional trim will cause the plant to fill in and remain uniform in shape. Cleaning the leaves with soapy water will remove the dust buildup and give the leaves a shiny, healthy appearance.

Placing your plants
Where you place your plant in a room creates an impact upon the atmosphere and ambience of the area. Tall, potted plants can create a quiet reading corner or add privacy to an office space. Hanging plants can provide a screen for a bathroom or bedroom window. An orchid may add tropical appeal to a patio or other living space. Avoid placing plants in heavy traffic areas or small spaces - they may just add clutter to these spaces. Make sure that plants placed on tables or in other conversation spots are not too large, hindering the conversation.

Containers for Plants
A decorative pot will increase the beauty of any plant that you add to your interior space. Regardless of the decorative appeal, a container with good drainage is a must for an interior plant. Place a saucer underneath the container to catch the run off water before it reaches your floor. Polystyrene peanuts will keep the container light in weight, increase your drainage, and decrease the soil needed to fill the pot. When stepping up plants to the next size do not increase size of the container more than 2 sizes greater than the current one. Baskets and other decorator pots are readily available at home improvement and home decorating stores and are easy to change with the seasons and your moods.

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