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Archive for Thursday, February 21, 2002

Give houseplants a healthy start

February 21, 2002

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A greenhouse is houseplant heaven where light, temperature, moisture and humidity are controlled so that plants thrive.

It's a different story once plants are purchased and transported to a house with dry, furnace-heated winter air and weak sunshine coming in a distant window.

In response, leaves often turn yellow and drop, and overall plant growth stalls as it adjusts to the new conditions.

To smooth the change, wrap a plant in several layers of paper when transporting it outside in winter and keep it in the heated passenger compartment of the car.

At home, make sure the plant is in a container with a drainage hole so excess water doesn't stay trapped in the soil. Do not use softened water on houseplants.

Wait to fertilize until new leaves appear. For most houseplants, that will be in late February or March.

Match the plant's light requirements to its indoor location.

Houseplant labels usually indicate if the plant needs or tolerates high, moderate or low levels of light.

The highest light is in a southern exposure, followed by east and west exposures. Northern exposures provide lowest light and coolest temperatures.

During winter, prevent houseplant foliage from touching window glass, where it can be damaged by cold temperatures.

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