Many people get disappointed when caring for potted plants. This is because they do not understand the exact requirements of growing in confined environments like houses and yards. But first, there are lots of reasons for growing plants in pots. It enables space-challenged people to tend to a range of flowers, vegetables and even trees and shrubs. It also allows people in cool climates to grow tropical plants. In addition, it allows plant lovers to try out newer varieties before planting them in gardens.
Creating an ideal climate or native habitat that plants flourish naturally is the secret to success with caring for your house plants. Your potted plants are completely dependent on food, water and sunlight unlike those in the wild. By providing your plants with a good environment and the correct amount of water and nutrients, you can make sure that your indoor plants stay alive.
Read on to learn how to maintain and care for potted plants in Nairobi, Kenya and in any other country. See how to get plants that add colorful decoration and purify air in your house or yard. But if you have been finding it difficult to maintain and care for your plants, here at Appeala Landscaping Kenya we can help. Contact us today to help you with your plant issue.
1. Water Your Potted Plants
Water your plants until the water comes out of the drainage holes. This is one of the ways to know the soil is getting moisture all the way to the bottom. You need to water the soil, not the foliage. Wetting the leaves and flowers can lead to fungal diseases. Do not let pots sit in water: this can cause root rot and death.
In wetter months, you can probably water once a week. In a rainy spring, you need to do less watering for outdoor plants. If your plants become shriveled, you should know that you have gone too long between watering.
As the summer continues, plants need more water. Not only is the warm weather evaporating the moisture before the plant can use it, the plants need more water as they grow larger. Hanging plants and small pots may need watering twice a day: once a day is enough for large pots. If your plants are showing distress i.e., wilting, you should know that you are watering too much.
Containers definitely affect watering. A small container may mean the roots take over, and there is no room left for soil to absorb water. On the other hand, a bigger container will have more soil to soak up water and hold it. Also, container material affects watering. For example, terra-cotta absorbs water causing dry out.
Generally, there is no watering formula. If your plants are placed outside, you need to know how much you water depending on the season and the stage the plant is in. So it becomes intuitive and depends a lot on you feeling the soil and understanding the plant.
2. Feed or Fertilize Your Plants
Most houseplants thrive in balanced 10-10-10 fertilizer. Plants growing in pots need more fertilizer than those in the ground, and it is good to use a time-release fertilizer for these plants. For healthy and vegetative plants, feed them a liquid or water-soluble fertilizer according to package directions.
Consider pot size when applying fertilizer. For big pots, you don’t need to apply a lot of fertilizer. On the other hand, small containers leach out nutrition faster, so you do need to fertilize more often. You can use compost or worm castings which provide general nutrients. You can also use dried sea kelp meal which is high in potassium and is a good stress reliever for potted plants.
If you have flowering plants, you need to buy a fertilizer that is high in potassium. If you have a foliage plant, you should get a fertilizer high in nitrogen. Plants also require micronutrients that need to be replenished by adding potting soil or fertilizer. During the cold season, when plants are dormant or generally not growing much, you can withhold applying fertilizer.
3. Deadhead and Prune Your Plants
Deadheading is pinching or cutting off faded blooms, and it encourages a plant to produce more flowers. For plants with so many tiny flowers and stems, it is best to shear the whole plant back to about one-third of its size just to save time and energy. Some flowering plants deadhead on their own. So you do not need to perform this task on them.
On the other hand, prune your potted plants regularly. Certain plants must have their roots pruned at different intervals to prevent roots from outgrowing the pot or vase. Plants can grow out of control if not pruned regularly. So prune your plant to keep it healthy, and to prevent yourself from having to replant. Also, cut off dead branches or stems that can attract bugs.
4. Provide Enough Sunlight to Your Potted Plants
It can be difficult to know if your potted house plants are getting the correct amount of sunlight, but here are some guidelines on the issue. When your pot plants are not receiving enough sunlight- they experience slow growth, have shoots growing toward the light and their leaves turn yellow and drop off. When your pot plants are receiving much sunlight – leaves appear faded and dull, parched and fall off. And the entire plant starts to wilt.
You can decide to provide direct sunlight to your plants. This involves keeping your pot plants directly in the sun so that they are illuminated with sunlight. You can also decide to provide indirect sunlight by placing your pot plant on a veranda or under a thin shade cloth.
To provide a partial shade to your plants, place them somewhere where the morning sun reaches or put them against a tree or fence which provides the plant with low to medium sunlight intensity. In addition, you can place them in a fully shaded location.
Note: Avoid putting the plants in direct sunlight for long hours. Fluorescent lights can work as an alternative to sunlight for some plants. Give flowering plants 12-16 hours of light per day and foliage plants 14-16 hours of light per day.
5. Re-pot Your Plants
You need to re-pot your plants to prevent roots and soil from cramping and forming a compacted mass that hinders further growth. When the roots start emerging through the top soil and the drainage holes, you need to repot! Small containers need to be changed more frequently than the bigger ones. Also, plants growing vigorously need to be repotted often than the slow growers.
When choosing a new container, always ensure that it has drainage holes and is bigger than the previous pot. The amount of drainage in the pot you are keeping your plant in is very important because over or under watering your plant can damage or kill it. Make sure that there are drainage holes at the bottom of your pot.
Note: Pot materials like plastic, metal and glass absorb much less water than ceramic or clay. If you are using a cachepot (which has no holes), water can build up and kill your plant. Re-potting can be stressful for plants and therefore it is recommended that they are not exposed to direct sunlight and the soil should be kept moist to allow them recover faster.
To re-pot, gently ease the plant out of the pot. Use your fingers to gently pull and prune any coiled roots. Partially fill up the new container with desired soil and center the plant in the pot. Finally, water the pot to settle the soil and moisten the roots.
6. Increase the Humidity for Indoor or Housed Plants
Dry air is good for some plants, but most plants require humidity, especially the tropical ones. To provide humidity to your potted plants, you can use a room humidifier with a cool mist, and make sure it is close enough to provide moisture in the air to the plant, but not wetness.
You can also create a simple humidifier by filling a tray with pebbles. To do this, just add water below the tops of the pebbles. As the water evaporates, it will humidify the room. You can also fill a spray bottle with water and mist the plants to give them some more moisture. In addition, some practices like grouping plants together can help raise humidity.
7. Clean the Plants and Control Pests
Dust and spilled materials are some of the things that you need to clean from plants. Dust can quickly build up on leaves. This is not only unsightly but also prevents plants from growing properly. Clean the plants with a piece of cotton wool dipped in water.
Concerning the pests, housed plants are not highly affected by these harmful organisms, but you need to keep checking and controlling any of these organisms. If the plants are lacking in vigor, check for tufts of white fluff. This is either mealy bug or woolly aphid – pests that suck the sap of houseplants and you can remove them with an organic soft soap spray.
You can also look for sap-sucking scale insects like tiny limpet-like bugs. If you find them, rub off by hand with a piece of cotton wool. In addition, you can look for fine webbing or yellow speckling which are symptoms of tiny red spider mites. You can prevent these mites by misting around the plants.
That’s all about how to maintain and care for potted plants. It can be simple if you have passion for and serious with growing attractive and healthy plants. And as mentioned above, you can see if Appeala Landscaping Kenya can help you with your potted plants. We can also supply and install flower plants, landscaping plants, vegetable crops, cut flowers, lawn grass, among other plants.