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Keeping Container Gardens and House Plants Healthy

by Karen Lawson, All About Lawns Columnist

Houseplants, much like your lawn and garden, have specific requirements for water. Caring for houseplants can be a delicate balance as plants can perish due to insufficient or excessive watering.

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There are a variety of things you can do to provide the proper amount of water to your plants. One of the most effective ways is to use a watering meter.

Watering Meters

Pettinelli, manager of the University of Connecticut Soil Nutrient Analysis Laboratory, notes that water saturated soil causes roots to drown when excess water displaces oxygen in soil. Garden supply shops sell meters that indicate when it's time to water your plants. Moisture meters are useful for avoiding unintentional "drowning" of container plants.

Caring for Houseplants

Besides using a watering meter, there are other practical steps you can take to maintain and care for your houseplants.

Plant with appropriate planting mediums. Use a good potting soil as these products are designed to provide appropriate nutrients and drainage for container gardening and houseplants. You can also buy potting mediums for particular types of plants including cacti, succulents, and African violets. Specialized soils can promote healthy moisture levels and accommodate drainage.

Mulch, moss, and stones reduce evaporation. Home heating typically reduces humidity and increase evaporation, which can cause plants to dry out quickly. Using decorative bark, decorative stones, and sphagnum moss to cover potting soil can add an organic touch to your décor and help your plants retain moisture.

Pay attention to your plants. Droopy, dull leaves, or browning can be signs of thirst. If you don't use a moisture meter, press the soil lightly. If it's dry, your plant needs water. Falling leaves can signify thirst or too much water. Leaves turning yellow and falling from the bottom of the plant may indicate excess moisture. Check drainage saucers or cache pots for standing water, as this can cause your plants to drown.

Understanding how to care for your houseplants is usually an important part of keeping your plants healthy and happy. By regulating watering and soil moisture, you can ensure that your plants look beautiful throughout the year.

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About the Author
Karen Lawson is a freelance writer with an avid interest in gardening and horticulture. She earned BA and MA degrees in English from the University of Nevada, Reno.

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