A primer for healthy houseplants | THE COMPLEAT HOME GARDENER

Want to breathe easier? Add some houseplants to your indoor rooms. Living plants take in carbon dioxide and give off oxygen and many varieties add the benefit of removing pollutants from the air as the produce oxygen.

Want to breathe easier? Add some houseplants to your indoor rooms. Living plants take in carbon dioxide and give off oxygen and many varieties add the benefit of removing pollutants from the air as the produce oxygen.

Here’s the primer on healthy houseplants:

What houseplants are hardest to kill?

Old favorites such as dumb cane (dieffenbachia) pathos, parlor palms and snake plant (sanseveria) adapt to the low light and low humidity of indoor rooms. A great tip is to notice what green plants survive in public spaces such as the dark corners of waiting rooms or in the windows of office buildings.  These are the houseplants that will also survive in homes.

Which houseplants are the most difficult to grow?

Over the years I get the most complaints about weeping figs that drop leaves, gardenias that become infested with mites and jade plants that turn soft and floppy. (Most often jade plants droop from too much water and not enough light.)

What does it mean if the tips of the leaves on a houseplant turn brown or black and die off?

Leaf tips die back from too much water (don’t let the roots sit in drainage water) not enough sunlight, too low of humidity or too much fertilizer.  In other words there are many reasons but over watering is the most common.

What if only the older or lower leaves of a houseplant fall off?

Leaf drop especially on older plants can signal not enough water, not enough sunlight, compacted soil or a plant that has grown too large for its pot. Repotting is the solution that can solve many of these problems.

What causes a sticky substance to form on the leaves of houseplants?

That would be residue from insects. Aphids, mites, scale and white fly all leave a sticky film on their host plant. (Think of this film as insect manure.)  Hand washing each leaf with a mild soap and water helps destroy many of these insects but eggs will hatch and the colony will reappear if you don’t continue with the soap and water treatment every few weeks. Consider adding infested houseplants to the compost pile.

What causes the leaves on my houseplants to turn yellow or pale in color?

Mites are most often the culprit as these tiny invaders suck the juice from the foliage and multiply quickly on stressed out houseplants that are too dry. Lack of fertilizer, underwatering and indoor air pollution will also turn foliage pale.

What if entire leaves are missing or chewed off and the plant has no insects and has never been outdoors?

Blame your cat or dog.

Why do flower buds form and then never open and drop off?

Bud blast occurs when potted plants throw a fit because you let them dry out or move them away from their light source just as they are about to give birth to new flowers. An infestation of mites, thrips or white fly will also cause buds to fall as many plants refuse to bloom when under attack by insect invaders.

What houseplant produces the most flowers with the least amount of problems?

I give my vote to the humble African violet. All they need is a bright window, and moist soil and they will bloom on and off all year long. You can group several blooming African violets onto a tray for a centerpiece, display a collection lined up on a windowsill or set a potted violet into a basket or bowl with other houseplants to create a living dish garden. You must keep the soil moist but not wet. Bloom inducing tip: When you boil and egg, used the cool, salt free water to water your African violets. The calcium that leaches into the cooking water from the egg shell will encourage blooms on African violets.

Marianne Binetti will be speaking at the Tacoma Home and Garden Show Jan 22 – 25 every afternoon at 2pm..  For more details visit www.otshows.com

 

More in Life

Photo courtesy of Patrick Dodd
                                Patrick Dodd and his father, Stan Dodd, at Hannegan Pass, Cooper Lake Trail. After Stan Dodd died in 2019, Patrick decided to dedicate 2020 to hiking and raising money to Fred Hutch Cancer Research Center.
He lost his dad, now he hikes for him

Local man turns to nature, blogging to fund cancer research

January’s Rotary Youth of the Month

Rotary members recognize three Renton School District high school students each month… Continue reading

Photo by Haley Ausbun. Have you visited the Highlands new brewhouse? The new Bickersons Brewhouse opened on Nov. 9. Two months later, Jan. 9, business leaders and the Renton Chamber of Commerce celebrated its opening with a ribbon cutting, featuring owners Frank Castro and Shaunn Siekawitch. Go bicker with the “Bickersons” at 4710 NE Fourth St., Renton.
Ribbon cut for new Renton brewhouse

Photo by Haley Ausbun. Have you visited the Highlands new brewhouse? The… Continue reading

Photo courtesy of BRAGG Project
                                REACH Center of Hope Volunteer Coordinator Kinza Shafir and BRAGG Founder Ezra Lucien, 9.
For this local kid, Christmas is like running a nonprofit

Nine-year-old Ezra Lucien runs BRAGG project to help other children

Council gives Persson long, duly earned goodbye

Don Persson retires long Renton career

Photo courtesy of Handsome Devil Ink. Owners Maggie and Ryan Hammond with Bad Santa (center) at their annual Bad Santa Food Drive.
Bad Santa’s good charity

Local tattoo shop collects 800 pounds of food

Renton lights up for the holidays

A guided map to some of the best holiday lights in the city

Jewish students learn how to make menorahs

Home Depot partners with Renton Jewish Center for holiday projects

On Saturday, Dec. 14, 15 students were paired with Renton Police Department officers who volunteered their mornings to each kid’s family wish list at 2019 Shop with a Cop.
Renton kids get to holiday shop thanks to local police

The large police presence at The Landing Target was no crime response,… Continue reading

Photo by Haley Ausbun. Evergreen City Ballet dancers rehearsing at the Meydenbauer Center Theatre in Bellevue, Dec. 4.
From Evergreen’s Cavalier to Broadway and back home again

Artistic Director Bennyroyce Royon introduces himself with “The Nutcracker”

Luck be Renton’s lady

Chamber of commerce ends the year in style

Firefighters ring the bell for donations

Photo by Haley Ausbun. Renton Regional Fire Authority Firefighters volunteered to ring… Continue reading