Feeding and Watering Houseplants
An extra factor however when caring for house plants, is the removal of dust from the leaves, of the larger-leaved subjects especially of which the India Rubber Plant (Ficus) is a good example. This, and other foliage plants, will benefit considerably by having the leaves sponged once a week with tepid soapy water. They will derive benefit from this in other ways, as well as being made more attractive in appearance.
With house plants in mind, as a special treat for yourself buy three plants in 3 in. pots, and set them in a suitable bowl for a small table, or windowsill, where they can be seen by visitors. A suitable choice of plants which I know will give pleasure, is Peperomia Glabella, with its neat variegated foliage, of compact habit, and Tradescantia Golden Queen, and also Silver Queen, This blend gives contrast and attractiveness.
Regarding the bowl in which to plant them, a suitable type can be purchased from most gardens sundries shops. One 6 ins. in diameter, will be suitable and, if of a brown colour, will give a pleasing contrast to the plants mentioned above.
Other possibilities which may be considered in the plant line, are Chlorophytum Variegatum and, as a special treat, Sanseveria Laurentii, though this is more expensive than most of the house plants.
Prior to planting in the bowl, remove the existing crock material and use a little bulb fibre or similar rooting medium to fill in any spaces. Bear in mind, however, that with bowls lacking drainage holes, watering will need to be done with extra care. Always drain off any water lying in the bottom of the bowl. One of the most popularfor indoor decoration is (ivy). There are several species, and amongst the best known sorts are: Hedera Helix Cristata which has green foliage and Hedera Canariensis which has variegated leaves. As well as being grown as , they will do well if allowed to trail, as from a pot in a wall bracket.
Perhaps the most popular of all indoor plants is Tradescantia. The variety Tradescantia Fluminensia Variegata, with its silvery foliage, is one of the best sorts and makes a neat graceful plant.
Caring for house plants is not difficult if you follow these basic principles.
Watering Pot Plants
The same general principles apply as have been stressed about watering pot plants in the greenhouse or conservatory. Make sure that the pots stand in a suitable saucer or shallow pan to collect water that drains through. Plants can, of course, be watered in the kitchen sink and allowed to “drain” before being put back in their original position.
Where practicable, always stand plants out in the rain, in spring and summer, so that as well as the watering aspect, the foliage benefits from the effect of moisture – always an important point with plants grown indoors.
If you have bulbs in bowls to deal with, and these have no drainage holes, make sure that too much water is not given. Tip these bowls on their sides, carefully, after watering, so that any surplus can drain off. Bulbs, whether, hyacinths or , will not stand water lying at their roots.
With bulbs in bowls, the best way to check the fibre orfor actual water requirement, is to “feel” it with the fingers. If in doubt, delay watering for the time being. Bowls can also be tapped with a knife handle, or something similar, to see if they “ring”, which they will, if dry. If there is only a dull thud on such tapping being done, do not water. Where several plants are to be checked for watering, it is surprising how, with a little practice, one can detect the differences in tone one gets on tapping, according to the varying stages of dryness or wetness of the compost.
When a pot is dry, fill up the available space with water more than once, if needs be. Allow the first applications to drain through, before giving more. When the compost is really wet, no more water will be needed perhaps for some days.
If the water does not drain through a pot as quickly as it should, make sure that the crocking is adequate. If in doubt, take the plant out of its pot, by turning it upside down, and tapping the rim on the edge of a table, keeping the fingers of one hand across the ball ofand also around the plant’s stem, to prevent it falling. If more crocking appears to be necessary, remove the existing pieces, and put fresh ones in the bottom of the pot.
Feeding Pot Plants
Under home conditions, the easiest method of feeding pot plants is to use one of the proprietary liquid organic “feeds”. There are several very good preparations which I have used with the greatest satisfaction. Whichever is used, follow the maker’s instructions closely regarding mixing with water and the frequency of application.