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PLANT CARE

Now that you have bought plants for your home or workplace, how will you look after the plants? Here are a few tips to help you keep your plants looking fresh and healthy.

Tips for plant care
  • Selection of plants should depend on availability of space and light.
  • Even though indoor plants do not require direct sunlight, they need bright natural light.
  • To avoid growth of plants in one direction (the direction from which it gets light), turn the plant occasionally to promote fuller growth in all directions.
  • Plants in water-holding potting mediums require less frequent watering.
  • Watering should be twice a day in hot and dry seasons.
  • Repotting of plants should be done at least once a year, depending on quality of potting medium.
  • Plants need to be fertilized regularly for healthy growth. Especially flowering plants like roses and hibiscus need regular fertilizers for good flowering.
  • Plants should be pruned occasionally to maintain their shape, to remove unwanted damaged parts and to promote new fresh growth.
  • Check should be kept for any sign of infection by plant pests. Plants should be treated with appropriate insecticide or fungicide at earliest stage of infection to avoid damage to plants.
Three main factors affect the growth and health of plants – Light, Water and Fertilizing.

Light
Light is the food of plants enabling photosynthesis. This process in presence
of light, converts water and carbon dioxide into sugars and oxygen.

As a very general rule flowering plants and colorful foliage plants need direct sun, ornamental foliage plants don't need direct sun and will survive in less light and cacti and succulents need lots of sunlight.

Low light indicators are pale leaves, slow, weak growth of stems, leaves drying and dropping, etc. Brown burn marks on exposed leaves, shrivelled dry leaves, indicates too much light.

Water
Water requirements of plants should be fulfilled by regular and appropriate watering. Watering of potted plants should be just enough to wet the complete potting medium. Excess water draining from the pot should not be allowed to collect below the pot as excess water can rot the roots. Humidity of surrounding air also affects the health of plants.

Few methods to increase humidity around house plants are misting (spraying. The benefits of misting are that it cools the plants down in the hot weather, provides humidity to leaves in dry conditions and cleans the leaves.

Plants requiring high humidity should be kept in the bathrooms or kitchens as these are generally the most humid rooms. Brown dry leaf tips, yellow leaves, leaf fall, indicate low humidity / dry air.

Fertilizing
What is in plant food? There are three major constituents of plant food- Nitrogen (N) - For leaf growth and 'greening' of plants, Phosphates (P2O5) - For root growth, Potash (K2O) - For flowers. Other elements of plant food are Trace elements, these are generally present in most compound fertilizers.

There are a few points that should be kept in mind for feeding your plants –
  • Feeding should be once in 2 to 4 weeks.
  • Proportion of food should be as stated on the fertilizer container (most fertilizer packages give instructions for feeding).
  • Less feed regularly is better than infrequent high amounts of feed.
Fertilizers are now available in various forms like powders, pellets/sticks and liquids. Pellets / sticks are easiest to use. Liquids dissolved in water are best for house plants as they are evenly distributed throughout the potting medium to all roots.