The basics of caring for houseplants

-Philip Steinhauer President, principal landscape designer for Designscapes Colorado, Inc.

While it's still cold outside, you can still care for your interior plants.  
 
Houseplants have very little care requirements and they have big returns!  
 
They're aesthetically appealing, they add "warmth" or a welcome feeling to any room and helps add to the wellness trend that we've been talking about by adding more oxygen back into the air we breathe.
 
Whether you decide to add new plants to your home or just "cleaning up" your existing plants, this could be something fun to do this week.  Focus a little time on your existing plants by giving them a little TLC.  
 

Plant care basics:

  1. Light: Light is an important part of indoor houseplant care.  Check on the tag that comes with your plant of the proper light requirements.  Those would be high, medium or low light.  Additionally, they may require direct or indirect light.  The brightest would be from a south facing window.
  2. Water: Water is the most important part of plant care.  As a general rule, you should only water when the top of the soil is dry.  This is typically about one time per week.  Succulents and cactus should be watered when the entire soil is dry.  Plants thrive in slightly humid environments so, feel free especially during the winter months to mist the tops of the leaves with a spray bottle.
  3. Temperature - Most indoor plants are tropical so, they don't handle cold temperatures very well.  Rooms should be kept between 65 and 75 degrees.
  4.  Fertilizer - You don't need to worry about this too much.  You most likely don't want your interior plant to outgrow the pot or the location it is in but, once a year is good to help add some nutrients back into the soil that has been depleted over the course of time.  You can either use one that you sprinkle on top of the soil and it breaks down over time or one that you mix in/dilute with water and apply when your plants need water.
  5.  On-Going Care - Things you can do to help your plants live and look their best:
  • Rotate the pot a 1/4 of a turn each time you water.  That way the plant is uniform all the way around and isn't one-sided - the side that is getting the most light typically looks the best.
  •  Wipe off dust and dirt of the tops of the leaves with a damp cloth and water.  This helps their natural color and sheen show and helps the plant "breathe".  This can also help eliminate debris for insects to thrive in.
  • Remove any brown or yellow leaves and discard.
For beginners - start with either a Pothos or a Philodendron.  These are my two favorite easy houseplants.
 
You can read more of Phil's landscaping tips, including winter watering advice, at www.designscapescolorado.com.