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Taking care of your indoor plants

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Beautiful Gardens of Doon – 63

There is no such green thumb, it’s all about how much you care for your plants

By SUNITA VIJAY
When one of my plants dies, I die a little inside, too- Linda Solegato
Are you someone who often finds themselves with dead indoor plants? Each one of us faces difficulty in keeping plants healthy, especially indoors. At times it’s an awful feeling to see them die each day. They add to the beauty of the house when kept on the window-sill, kitchen shelf, in the bathroom and other living areas. You brought them in to spread joy and in no time, they die because of our careless attitude and lack of proper care. They wilt, leaves turn brown or turn pale and die. It’s time to realize that you have made few common mistakes when it comes to plant care. One doesn’t have to be a proficient gardener to make them live well. You need to know the basics and understand your plants. The rest – the plant will tell you what it requires. The following tips will help you in caring for indoor plants.

1. Understand your space and the time you can afford to spend on plants. Select a plant keeping in mind where you want to keep it, the duration of sun the house receives, the direction of the house. Is it a shaded home with some towering trees around or does it receive bright sun? How busy is your schedule? How much time can you devote to your plants? Accordingly, settle for a particular species. Your house needs to provide suitable conditions to make the plant feel good.

2. Select a healthy plant. Look for a robust plant. If any crinkled leaf or any sign of ill health is seen, avoid buying. New growth, healthy leaves, new buds, new stems are a strong indication of a healthy plant.

3. When the plant is in the ground, its roots change direction to hunt for nutrients. But a potted plant has its limitations. Its root system is enclosed in the container. You must nourish it from time to time. Appropriate fertilizers are to be added regularly to replenish the used up nutrients.

4. Always pick a pot with drainage holes. If not, make provision for excess water to escape by creating three-four holes and keeping stone pebbles on them before filling the planter with soil.

5. When you bring a new plant home, repot it into a pot one or two inches bigger than the original pot. If you find the soil to be compact, pierce gently with a sharp, pointed tool to loosen the soil and to let the roots feel free to spread. Keep the soil fibrous. If this is not done, the plant’s root system will collapse and it’ll soon die. If the soil is loose, handle with care. Change the soil without disturbing the roots. Water well for the first time and do not over water later.

6. Spray the new plant with a natural insecticide to provide anticipatory protection.

7. Maintain circulation. Keep at least three sets of plants to be kept indoors. Keep one set outside after ten days stay inside to let it revive through solar energy.

8. How do you judge your plant is growing well? Check for new growth. If leaves are not dropping and the plant is actively growing, it’s a good sign. If you observe any other adverse sign, then take action. Monitor watering. Understand its need. Change the place and see the behaviour. Except for autumn or peak winters if the plant is shedding leaves it’s a sign that the plant has either some health issues or there is lack of light. Address the issue and it will relive. If it develops new set of leaves that are bright and shiny, it is in the right spot.

9. Always keep the plant inside the house near a window where it receives light. Ensure it gets enough diffused sunlight. Or you may keep it close to a lamp that will provide light and warmth.

10. Check from where the species has originated and try to provide them bright or low light as per their origin. Most of the plants do well near a window. Light is food for the plant. No plant will survive in the middle of the room or in dark corners.

11. Water the plant only when the soil is dry. Sometimes it requires water daily, sometimes on alternate days or once in six-seven days during a high humidity phase. Do not count the days. Feel the soil and add water accordingly. Dry soil is better than wet.

12. Create a natural environment for the plant by sprinkling water on the leaves to give it a feel of rain.

13. In case you witness any signs of ill-health, examine the plant holistically. Yellow leaves, tips turning brown, drooping leaves, lower leaves turning yellow, falling leaves, etc. All these signs indicate overwatering.

Plants need love and care. There are no such green fingers. One must be little observant and act swiftly to address adverse signs that a plant shows. It will grow profusely in caring hands.