Caring for House Plants – Pot Plants in the Home

Caring for House Plants

Assuming that you don’t have a greenhouse, and any pot plants have to be purchased, the following general care points should be borne in mind: 

  • An even temperature is essential as nothing will cause poor results with pot plants more quickly than very warm evening conditions and cold night temperatures.
  • Hot, stuffy rooms are also very detrimental.
  • A cool room is best, a cool windowsill being very suitable.
  • Avoid standing plants in draughts as these will check growth very quickly, and can cause the death of many subjects.
  • Try to give pot plants in the home good light conditions. This may not always be possible, but bear this point in mind, as it is important.
  • Always keep pot plants away from fires, or the heat of lights.



Christmas Pot Plants

When caring for house plants received as Christmas gifts, the following are some of the points which may arise regarding their management. Should the pot plant be un-named, and its name not yet known, watering may be the main problem. In general, water only moderately, keeping the compost just damp and, usually, if in any doubt, delay watering for the time being.

Where you have received leafy subjects like Sansevieria, Ficus or Hedera (ivy), these will definitely benefit from having the foliage sponged over with a soft cloth and some tepid soapy water from time to time. No plant will do well if there is a coating of dust on its foliage. This sponging will also improve the appearance of the plants considerably.

If you have been fortunate enough to have been given an Azalea, the flowering life of this colourful subject can be considerably prolonged by picking off the dead flowers regularly, and above all, by not over-watering. If this is done, i.e. too much water given, the foliage will start to fall. The cooler this plant can be kept, and evenly cool at that, the longer it will stay in flower. It is worth persevering with to get the best from it, as with care it will give further pleasure in succeeding years.

The popular berried plant – the Solanum, often called the “winter cherry”, is frequently purchased for the Christmas period, or may be received as a present. It does quite well under home conditions, but care should be taken with the watering, for too much moisture causes the leaves to drop. The plants and berries can be kept in good condition for the longest time in an evenly cool, draught-free room. The whole plant can be washed under a tap, to clean off any dust that may collect on leaves or berries.

Solanums can be kept from year to year, but are best raised from seed sown under glass in February or of course, fresh plants may be purchased each December.

With hyacinths which are in full bloom over Christmas the longest pleasure can be obtained by cutting off the fading flowers, i.e. the individual “florets”, at the base of the spike as they “go over”. When all the flowers are over, continue to water the plant as usual; do not allow the foliage to shrivel for lack of moisture, and stand the pot in cool conditions indoors for the time being. The bulbs can later be planted out of doors or given to someone who can plant them outside. Cut off the whole of the “spike” when flowering is over.

Cyclamen often take pride of place regarding a Christmas present. To prolong flowering, pick off any dead blooms as they fade. If this is done regularly, the life of the plant will be much lengthened. Any dead or yellow leaves at the base of the plant can also be picked off.

St. Paulia (the African Violet), one of the likely Christmas gifts, will need the most careful attention. It needs a higher temperature and a more moist atmosphere than the other subjects mentioned. When watering this plant keep the water off the foliage for cold water can cause yellow markings which detract from the appearance of the plant.

Remember that no plant likes being in a draught and often a window-sill may not be the best position especially in colder weather. A draught-free, even temperature is best for the long lasting of flowering pot plants. Disappointing results will be obtained if plants are kept in very warm rooms.


House Plant Problems

“Why do the leaves drop …?” One of the most common problems met with in caring for house plants, is that of the “leaves falling off”. This happens with a wide range of subjects, not only to those which are normally used to a warmer atmosphere.

Over-watering is a frequent cause of leaf drop, probably one of the most common causes, but normally the trouble is past repair when it is realised that too much water is at fault. At the first signs of leaf drop make sure that too much water is not given subsequently.

Where plants are purchased, see that they are well protected in the journey between nursery or shop and the home. Keep them out of draughts and well wrapped up, especially in windy or frosty weather, and most definitely try to keep all pot plants out of draughts when indoors. This is often the cause of the foliage being shed or of the plants looking unhappy.

Keep all pot plants in as even a temperature as possible; there is nothing worse than excess warmth by day and cold at night. An evenly cool room or window-sill is better than too high a temperature. Err towards cooler rather than warmer conditions if doubt exists, except where it is known that the pot plants concerned are definitely better in fairly high temperatures.


Fuchsias in the Home

As a pot plant in the home, fuchsias are very popular for a summer display, but one frequently hears complaints that “the flowers drop off”. In many cases this is due to keeping the plants in too confined an atmosphere, i.e. not giving them enough ventilation. They appreciate a position in well ventilated rooms and will certainly not do well in warm conditions.

Some fuchsia flowers fall off with age in any case but this is different from all the blooms falling off at one time. Over-watering and under-watering should be guarded against, either of which will cause the blooms to drop.

If a fuchsia plant is being purchased as a gift or for ones own pleasure there is a wealth of varieties available. I have found the following to be the most popular: Ballet Girl; Fascination and Prince Charming. Any one of these varieties can be relied upon to give pleasure.


Miniature Roses as House Plants

It is always an extra pleasure to have a present with a difference. A miniature rose as a pot plant gift, either if one is the giver or the receiver, can be relied upon in this connection.

It should be borne in mind, however, that these plants with their fine root system need rather careful watering. In my experience, over-watering is the chief cause of trouble.

I find that a not too rich compost is best, and little feeding, so that the plants remain fairly compact in habit. Misplaced and unbalanced growths should be cut back with small nail scissors as necessary.

Wash the foliage from time to time, with a small sponge, to avoid dust collecting. Some varieties which I find suitable include Baby Gold, this being one of the larger miniature sorts, and best, I think, in the bud stage. A very fine flowering pink is Cinderella, which is another I prefer when it is in bud. Pour Toi, is a charming, creamy white variety, especially suitable as a “special” gift, and Tom Thumb an attractive red.



Busy Lizzie, as it is called, is a very popular pot plant for home conditions. The variety I. Sultanii, is frequently met with and its scarlet flowers are borne freely.

Plants should be cut back in March to encourage fresh growth for the summer. Less water should be given in winter. Cuttings will root very readily and new growths tins. long can be inserted in sand, or even in a glass of water, where they provide interest in forming roots quickly. If this method is used, the plants should be potted up as soon as roots form freely.

Details of several other pot plants that can be grown under “home” conditions are given in “Greenhouse and Conservatory Plants”.


11. September 2010 by admin
Categories: House Plants | Tags: | Comments Off on Caring for House Plants – Pot Plants in the Home


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