All houseplants should have a symbol on their labels denoting the type of care they need to keep them at their best:
- S denotes a succulent or cactus plant
- HH denotes a house plant that likes to have misted leaves and a more humid environment
- HD denotes a house plant that prefers to keep its leaves dry
S – Succulents and Cacti
When watering, don’t get water on their leaves as this might discolour or rot them.
Most plants have a dormant phase during the winter months, when you should keep watering to a minimum and keep the compost almost dry during this time. IF IN DOUBT, DON’T WATER! With succulents, keep an eye on the leaves – if they start to shrivel it’s a sure sign that the plant needs water.
The exception to this would be epiphytic plants. These plants grow on trees absorbing moisture from the surrounding air and they require watering all year round.
In the growing season, from spring to autumn, water ONLY when the compost has completely dried out. Always allow the water to completely drain away before replacing your plant back in its decorative pot. Never leave a plant sitting in water. For plants that are in the small concrete pots without drainage holes, water carefully using a pipette to give only a few drops at a time during the growing season.
Check your particular plant’s needs for where to keep your plant and how much light/direct sun it can tolerate.
Feed with a cactus/succulent feed (usually available from your local garden centre) once a month from spring to autumn making sure you follow the dilution instructions carefully!
HH – Houseplants that like more humid conditions
Mist the leaves of the plants regularly, every day or every other day, all year round (buy one of our lovely misters!). Allow the top of the compost to dry out between waterings from spring to autumn. Reduce watering in the winter months. BEWARE of over-watering!!! This can kill your precious plant.
During the growing season feed your plant with a liquid houseplant food approximately every month. Check on your particular plants needs before feeding. Don’t feed the plant in winter.
HD – House plants that prefer to keep their leaves dry
Allow the compost to dry out slightly between waterings between spring and autumn reducing watering in the winter months. Feed approximately every month during the growing season only. Some plants for example Begonias are greedy feeders so it is best to check on your particular plants needs before feeding. Allow the top of the compost to dry out between waterings in winter.
Feed with a liquid houseplant fertilizer every 2 weeks from late Spring to early Autumn. Don’t feed the plant in winter.
These are houseplants that like humidity but don’t like water falling directly onto their leaves. A good example would be Saintpaulias and Begonias. With these plants mist the air around the plant regularly but do not spray water directly onto their leaves. It might be best to water them from underneath the pot, placing the plant in a shallow filled sink of water leaving the plant to soak up the water for about 10-20 minutes before replacing them back in their decorative pot.
Care of Oxalis triangularis – These are grown from a rhizome. Water weekly but not too much as this can send them into dormancy. They are very long lived plants and are photophilic which means their flowers and leaves open and close in response to light. Keep in a well lit spot out of direct sunlight, turning them so that they don’t lean towards the light. Occasionally they can go dormant (every 2-7 years). When this happens STOP watering, let the soil completely dry out, put aside somewhere where you can keep an eye on it and after a few weeks a leaf will emerge and then you can resume watering. Feed every 2 months or less with a liquid houseplant feed.
The majority of houseplants need to be kept out of direct sunlight. A lot of houseplants originate from countries where they naturally grow on the forest floor under the tree canopy. They therefore prefer indirect sunlight and if kept in full sun are likely to suffer. Their leaves might become ‘burnt’ and discolour and the plant would not thrive. Obviously this is a generalisation and it is best to check on the plant’s individual needs. Also NEVER leave a plant sitting in water, when watering always allow the water to fully drain away before replacing your plant back in its decorative pot. Exceptions to this might be plants that naturally live on the water’s edge and permanently have their roots soaking in water for example Cyperus.
Note: To feed my plants I use a liquid houseplant feed and I also spray their leaves occasionally with a product called SB Invigorator, this acts as a foliar feed and can help control pests such as red spider mite and aphids.
Tillandsia or air plants are native to Central and Southern America. They are an epiphytic plant which means they grow using a tree or another plant as a support. Tillandsia can come in many shapes and sizes.
Tillandsia prefer bright, indirect sunlight. They can tolerate a couple hours of direct sun, but this is very drying, so plan to supplement their water if they do get direct sun. They can also find air conditioning units and radiators drying so place your Tillandsia away from them.
The best water to use for air plants is rain water; pond or other natural water. This is because they all contain some nutrients whereas tap water contains chlorine and mineral deposits that can kill air plants, so it’s important to only use natural water! If you don’t have access to rainwater you can use spring water.
Most Tillandsia should be soaked once a week for 20-30 minutes with the exception of Spanish Moss which needs longer, 40 minutes to an hour.
Once they have soaked take them out, gently shake off excess water and place on kitchen towel or tea towel upside down to help water run off the plants. Leave for up to 15 minutes then place back in their usual spot. You can also use an additional air plant mist which contains nutrients and can help feed the plant.
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