Interior Design includes house plants as well as the other furnishings in the home. Healthy house plants add an air of peace and serenity to any room design. Since they are living things, they do require specific care and they don’t all need the same thing. First of all, many house plants come from tropical places, and these, of course, all have different conditions. Many tropical places have the same conditions that humans are comfortable in, so it’s no wonder that we enjoy living with plants around us. To keep plants growing well, we need to duplicate, as best we can, the conditions that are as close to their natural habitat as we can provide. This takes time and attention, as well as the ability to notice when plants are becoming unhappy. Without proper care, unhappy plants become unhealthy plants. Indoor heating was perfected during the Victorian era and the Victorians had wonderful displays of indoor plants. Solariums were popular rooms in larger Victorian homes and today, many people still have rooms which can act as a solarium. They have very good light conditions and the temperature is a warm and stable 15 to 20C or about 60 to 70F. Low humidity makes plants and people uncomfortable. Leaf tips become dry and brown. over-watering will make this worse. Being too close to a hot air vent can create localized low humidity, even when the overall humidity of the home is adequate.For instance, succulents like all the plants in the photo above need dry conditions and plenty of light. They look great all grouped together. In reality, they would need to be in a bright window. They like to be well watered, once they are thoroughly dry, and then left to grow, sometimes for weeks or even months with no water. If they are over-watered, they will actually shrivel and go brown due to root rot. The beginner may conclude that the plants are wanting water and will water them, compounding the rot rot issue.This is a physiological issue, as opposed to death by insect pest or disease. once plants are over-watered small flies called fungus gnats may arrive. These are not the cause of the decline of the plant. Over-watering is the cause. The fungus gnats are a symptom of the overall situation. Succulents grow naturally in desert conditions. They need next to no fertilizing. Similarly to over-watering, if they are overfed, they sicken and die. Leaves become yellow, the plant becomes limp and wilted, and the plant stops growing.
After you’ve had a plant for several years it will likely need re-potting. The previously happy plant may have stopped growing and it may be wilting. Check the roots. If there is little soil visible and the roots are growing in circles around the outer edge of the pot, the plant needs re-potting. Re-pot the plant into a pot about an inch larger. Going to a much larger pot may result in the soil remaining wet too long. Rot rot may result. Re-pot the plant at the same soil level that it was previously growing at. The stem could rot if the plant has soil against it.
Be sure your pot has a drainage hole. It is a good idea to use a decorative pot as a cover to hide the more utilitarian drainage pot. The decorative pot should not have a hole. This prevents water draining through and damaging flooring and furniture. Add a spacer below the drainage pot so that water can drain through. The decorative pot will hold the excess water. Once again, do not over-water. Plants do not like standing in water unless they are water plants. Canna can actually live in water.Over-watering, over-feeding, inadequate light and drafts are cultural disorders. Many plants just cannot survive them. Rosemary and other plants from Mediterranean areas like hot, dry and hungry conditions. That means they need lots of light, being well watered only when they are bone dry, and little or no fertilizer. even then, sometimes your rosemary plant will still die. Don’t take it personally. It sometimes helps to purchase a fairly large plant in the first place, then treat it well. These larger plants have already learned to survive and perhaps they can get through a little imperfection on the home owner’s part.
In inadequate light, plants put out soft, weak growth, if they grow at all. If insects are present, soft growth is easy for them to attack. Even when plants are given good conditions to live in, they can still get pests. Early detection is crucial to halting an infestation. Usually it’s insects that cause the damage if the plants are getting the correct amounts of light, moisture and fertilizer. Most often, these are aphids, scale, mealy bugs, and spider mites. Once these are entrenched, they are difficult to get rid of. Most problems begin on the underside of plants so be sure to check there regularly.
Keep good air ventilation going in your home, but do not create cool drafts. This is good for human occupants of the home, as well. Plants can acquire physiological disorders in cool, damp environments when, say, the heat is too low for the plants to stay healthy and happy during the winter in order to keep bills down. These physiological disorders can cause many issues. They are not caused by insects or diseases. The plant just sits there and does not thrive. Eventually it declines and dies.The large plant in the photo above is a dracaena. It is easy to grow. It can tolerate low light but prefers medium to bright indirect light. It will die from over-watering because it will get root rot. That is the main cause of dracaena mortality. Water your dracaena well, then all the soil to become dry to about 75% of the soil depth before watering again.
There’s hope! It’s the ZZ plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia), which can tolerate getting nearly no light, nearly no humidity, and nearly no water! It’s pretty much bullet proof. It looks good all the time. In the photo below there is a ZZ plant in a blue pot on the white pedestal left of the sofa.Some people have a natural affinity for growing plants, and some do not. Even for those who excel it often took years to learn what they know. We live in a Golden Age of information. When shopping for a house plant, read the information on the label, if there is any. It is futile to try to force a plant to live where it does not receive the light and other things that it needs. House plants are popular because, if you put the right plant in the right place and give it what it needs to continue, it likely will be healthy and happy.
Call Mulberry Interiors now at (905) 849-6423 to book a consultation. We look forward to working with you to increase your enjoyment of your home.
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