Natural Health Care For Houseplants
Hello fellow Earthlings and welcome to the living room. Houseplant care is
the topic of conversation today. I have been asked by many of you why I
don't often write about these lovely furnishings, and I honestly have no
excuse. So in order to fix this injustice, we're going to discuss some
natural ways to care for the indoor garden.
Houseplants are probably the one type of plant that we will all get a
chance to care for at some time in our life. They are often plants from
more tropical parts of the world and require temperatures similar to what
we consider comfortable. There is only a couple of limiting factors when
choosing a houseplant, light and humidity.
Light is important because
certain plants require more of it than others do. Humidity is important
because we often use dry heat to warm our houses. This low humidity will
limit our houseplant choices, especially when considering houseplants that
are used to the high humidity of the jungle or the greenhouses where they
are commercially grown. Knowing the light and humidity available inside an
area of your home where you would like to put a plant and choosing an
appropriate type of plant for these conditions will greatly increase your
chances for success. Light can be defined in pretty basic terms; low,
medium, bright light and sunny are commonly used terms when describing the
indoor light conditions for plants. Humidity is a little trickier, however
it is safe to say that most homes have low humidity indoors.
Feeding of houseplants can also be done with natural materials without
driving your domestic pets crazy or making the entire house smell like a
freshly manured farm. There are several products that will feed your
houseplants very effectively without stinking up the joint.
One of my
favorites is a tea made from fully decomposed compost or worm castings.
This tea is made just like the sun tea you love to drink and I think of it
as sun tea for my houseplants. I make it by putting about a half a cup of
compost or castings in an old nylon stocking and put it into a gallon
bucket of water. Let it sit in the sun for a few hours and it's done. If
you are not inclined to take the time to make this concoction there are
some ready to use materials available that work very well.
Alfalfa meal is
a product that can be purchased at many nurseries and garden centers or is
available at your local feed store. Any leftovers can certainly be used to
feed the outdoor garden as well. Alfalfa meal is a very rich source of
almost every nutrient known to produce healthy plant growth and is a far
more complete food for plants than those colored crystals you melt in
water. It is also rich in organic matter and will enrich the quality of
potting soils greatly extending their life expectancy. You don't use much,
it's cheap, and it lasts a very long time. So it also cuts down on you work
load, especially at this time of year when you're scratching for seconds.
Another very good product that will provide an abundance of minerals to
your houseplants is liquid kelp extracts or kelp meals. These materials do
not provide much (if any) nitrogen to your houseplants but they do provide
very important minerals that strengthen and invigorate your plants. I like
to mix alfalfa and kelp meal at a two parts alfalfa to one part kelp ratio
and feed it to my plants to ensure they are getting all of the nutrition
they need. I use it at a rate of one tablespoon for every three inches of
pot diameter sprinkled evenly on the surface of the soil immediately after
watering. I then water again lightly to evenly moisten the dry plant food.
This mix lasts for two months to three months per feeding and really works
well on large specimen and smaller plants alike.
Liquid kelp extracts are
wonderful plant revivers and can restore your plants to health after any
kind of stress including water stress or smoke from a Cohiba. Kelp extracts
are very easily absorbed by your plants and can also be applied directly to
foliage after dilution to half of the strength suggested on the bottle.
This stuff really kicks sickly plants back into growth mode as well.
Pest control on you houseplants does not need to include hazardous chemical
toxins. Insect pests on houseplants can be a real bummer, but that is no
reason to break out the napalm. Soaps that are made from olive oil,
(Castile) are rich in potassium salts that dry out the protective cuticle
of insects are very effective controls. Neem seed oil sold at most
nurseries is also an effective way to control pest insects. I still use
rubbing alcohol applied with a Q-tip to certain resilient pests like
mealybugs. It kicks their butts.
The old axiom "The best way to control
pests and disease is to grow healthy plants" is especially true for
We all love to see healthy plants growing indoors and it is one of the few
places where we all have fairly similar climates. I promise to write more
often about houseplants so we can further share and to curtail the hate
mail to just the chemical companies. See you in the Garden!
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