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Houseplants

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A houseplant is a plant that is grown indoors in places such as residences and offices. Houseplants are commonly grown for decorative purposes, but studies have also shown them to have positive psychological effects. Houseplants also help with indoor air purification. Plants used in this fashion are most commonly, though not always, tropical or semi-tropical epiphytes, succulents or cacti.

Houseplants need the correct moisture, light levels, soil mixture, temperature, and humidity. As well, houseplants need the proper fertilizer and correct-sized pots.

Major factors that should be considered when caring for houseplants are moisture, light, soil mixture, temperature, humidity, fertilizers, potting, and pest control. The following includes some general guidelines for houseplant care. For specific houseplant needs, the tags that sometimes come with plants are notoriously unhelpful and generic. Specific care information may be found widely online and in books.

Moisture

Succulents, or water-retaining plants, such as this jelly bean plant (Sedum rubrotinctum), are often grown as houseplants

Both under-watering and over-watering can be detrimental to a houseplant; the soil needs to be moist but not flooded.

Light

A skylight provides sun to these plants.

Different plants require different amounts of light, for different durations. Photoperiodism must also be considered, since some plants such as Poinsettia and Schlumbergera are influenced by either decreasing or increasing daylight hours.

Some potted plants can grow very large.

Most houseplants must rely on window light. It is possible to supplement this with artificial lighting of suitable wavelengths.
Soil

Houseplants are generally grown in specialized soils called potting compost or potting soil, not in local natural soil. A good potting compost mixture includes soil conditioners to provide the plant with nutrients, support, adequate drainage, and proper aeration. Most potting composts contain a combination of peat and vermiculite or perlite. Concern over environmental damage to peat bogs, however, is leading to the replacement of peat by coir (coconut fibre), which is a sustainable resource. Sterilised soil can also be used.

Temperature

Most houseplants are tropical species selected for their adaptation to growth in a climate which ranges from 15 °C to 25 °C (60 °F to 80 °F), similar to the temperature in most homes. Temperature control for other plants with differing requirements needs attention to heating and/or cooling.
Humidity

Humidity is slightly more difficult to control than temperature. The more commonly used houseplants have established that they can survive in low humidity environments as long as their roots are kept properly irrigated. Most plants thrive in 80% relative humidity while most homes are usually kept around 20% to 60% relative humidity.

Fertilizers

Plants require soil minerals, mainly nitrate, phosphate, and potassium. Nitrogen is essential for green, leafy growth. Phosphorus is essential for flowering or fruiting plants. Potassium is essential for strong roots and increased nutrient uptake. Minor and trace elements, such as calcium, magnesium and iron, may also be necessary.
Crassula ovata in a clay container (Italian terra cotta).

Pot types and sizes

Proper pot size is an important factor to consider. A pot that is too large will cause root disease because of the excess moisture retained in the soil, while a pot that is too small will restrict a plant’s growth. Generally, a plant can stay in the same pot for two or so years. Pots come in a variety of types as well, but usually can be broken down into two groups: porous and non-porous. Porous pots are usually clay and are highly recommended because they provide better aeration as air passes laterally through the sides of the pot. Non-porous pots such as glazed or plastic pots tend to hold moisture longer and restrict airflow. Another needed feature is drainage holes. Usually pots come with holes in the bottom to allow excess water to flow out of the soil which helps to prevent root rot. If a pot does not have drainage holes, it is best to double pot that plant so the inner pot can be lifted out and the excess water accumulated in the bottom of the outer pot can be removed. Soak old pots thoroughly in a solution of 1 part bleach to 10 parts water to kill any bacteria that may remain.

Effect on indoor air pollution

Indoor plants reduce components of indoor air pollution, particularly volatile organic compounds (VOC) such as benzene, toluene, and xylene. The compounds are removed primarily by soil microorganisms. Plants can also remove CO2 “Carbon dioxide”, which is correlated with lower work performance, from indoor areas. The effect has been investigated by NASA for use in spacecraft.[3] Plants also appear to reduce airborne microbes and increase humidity.

Source – Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Houseplant

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