Houseplant Care

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

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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 bulbs.  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.

Closed Terrarium Care

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Terrariums that are closed are self sufficient and environmentally friendly because they recycle water.

It’s important to establish the right levels of humidity inside your terrarium so check it regularly.  Never just pour water into the terrarium as this is likely to flood it and once water is in you can’t take it out again very easily!

This type of terrarium does not need watering unless there is no condensation on the inside of the glass. Then give the inside one spray from a mister and close the terrarium again.

If however there is so much condensation that you cannot see the plants inside open the terrarium and let the fresh air in for a couple of days to allow excess water to evaporate before replacing the lid again.

Regularly turn the terrarium so that the plants grow evenly.

Keep in a well lit position but not in direct sunlight, since the container can act as a lens and burn your plants.

If the plants grow too tall, using a sharp pair of scissors, cut the stem just above a pair of leaves. This will encourage new leaves to grow and the plant will become bushier. There might come a time when the plants need replacing due to them growing too big or if one should not thrive.  If this happens please email me to arrange replanting your terrarium.

I hope that you enjoy your terrarium but if you have any questions please contact me at janet.fox@smallandgreen.com

Open ‘dry’ Terrarium Care

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The type of plants in this terrarium like ‘dry’ conditions so are easy to care for!  Their natural habitat would be a desert or semi-desert and they grow in dry, sandy soils.

The word “succulent” refers to plants that have thick, fleshy leaves, stems or roots for storing water.

Keep your terrarium in a well lit position but not in direct sunlight, since the container can act as a lens and burn your plants. Do rotate the terrarium so that the plants grow evenly.

Succulents and cacti have an annual cycle whereby they become dormant during the winter months from about October through to March each year.  Water only once during this time but check your plant’s needs regularly.  If the leaves look like they are shrivelling then water minimally with a pipette or a spoon and direct the water to the base of the plant.
 
From March onwards give the plants a few drops of water each, approximately once every month. If the succulent’s leaves are looking wrinkly this is usually a sign that they could do with a little water.  Try to direct the water to the base of the plant to prevent the leaves from getting wet.

If in doubt DON’T WATER!

If any of the lower leaves start to dry and fall off don’t worry!  This is just a part of the plants natural biological cycle.  The lower leaves die off and new ones grow out from the centre of the plants.  Simply remove any old leaves with tweezers.

Open ‘wet’ Terrarium Care

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These types of terrariums are open at the top and contain humid loving plants.   They need a little bit more care than a closed terrarium.

You will need to water the plants every 5-10 days and spray them daily or every other day to keep up the level of humidity.  When you water them use a small watering can or pipette to direct the water to the bases of each plant.  Use only a small amount of water otherwise you will flood the soil and the roots of the plants may rot if they sit in water for too long.

Turn the container regularly so that the plants grow evenly and do not bend towards the light causing them to become misshapen.

Occasionally mould may start to grow on the moss or soil. This is nothing to worry about but if this happens try to gently remove the mould and the top layer of the soil it is growing on with a spoon and add some activated charcoal powder or granules to the soil in tiny amounts and this should help to prevent the mould coming back.  This can be bought in aquarium supply shops or online.

The plants should love their environment and if they do will grow well and at some point might need removing because they have grown too big!  You can then pot them on into multi purpose compost into a pot of a suitable size and you will then have a new houseplant for your home!  Garden centres should supply suitably sized replacements so you don’t have a gap in your terrarium, just remember to ask for a small houseplant that likes high humidity.

Any questions or for more information email me at janet.fox@smallandgreen.com

Enjoy your terrarium! 

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