Good housekeeping is just a matter of tidiness as far as indoor plants are concerned. Nothing mars a handsome plant collection more quickly than yellowed leaves, soiled pots, faded flowers, or spotted foliage. Although it is difficult to check a large collection of plants constantly – let alone just checking a few plants in today’s busy lives – try to form the habit of removing unattractive leaves whenever you see them. Plan to give about an hour a week to a large collection.
Foliage plants always become dusty, especially in large cities. One of the simplest ways to keep large leaves clean is to take them to the sink or tub and give them a shower. If the plant is too large to move, wash the leaves with a soft sponge and a bucket of warm water. For very dusty, stickly leaves, mild soap suds will help, but be sure to rinse them off afterward.
For smaller plants, the foliage is easier to clean. Take the plants to the sink or bathtub and rinse the leaves once a week. Frequent misting is another way of doing this without having to move a heavy or delicate plant.
Also, make sure to scrub the sides of the pot occasionally.
Keep an Eye Out for Trouble Signs
When plants do not thrive as well as they should, they often show visible clues as to what is ailing them. By keeping a plant collection of any size tidy, you will inevitably be looking at your plant often and noticing new growth and other signs of development… sometimes this includes signs of trouble. Once the plant’s trouble is known, it usually can be corrected.
Take care not to be overzealous in looking for troubles and trying to correct them. In the majority of cases, the plants problem is none other than a simple cultural fault. Here are some of the most common symptoms:
Physiological adjustment This occurs when a plant raised in the nearly ideal conditions of a temperature-controlled greenhouse is brought into a home. The plant suffers shock, dropping a few usually older leaves as it adjusts to the new environment. Pull off the yellowed leaves and continue normal care, watering the plant regularly as needed. If leaf yellowing continues for a longer period than seems reasonable, move the plant to a place where the lighting is different ad change the watering schedule. Make sure you understand what conditions the plant requires.
Overwatering Too much water in the soil fills the porous spaces of the woil with water instead of air and thus prevent a plant’s roots from getting the oygen they need for proper growth. Yellow leaves are signals. To remedy, withhold water until the plant almost wilts. Then gradually begin a new watering program. After a week or two, apply a water-soluble house plant fertilizer. If the plant is still doing poorly, repot it in fresh soil
Lack of Nutrients Indicated by gradual yellowing of leaves. Sometimes the soil simply needs fertilizer, but more often than not the nutrient shortage is the result of the plant having outgrown its pot.
Small leaves. The most common reason for this is poor light. Try moving the plant to a brighter location. Keep the leaves free of dust, too, by rinsing them off frequently. This will also give the plant periodic increases in humidity, another way to encourage larger leaves.
Leaf spots. The most common reason for this is too much sun. When these brown spots appear consistently, move the plant to a place where it gets less sunlight. Spattering the leaves of any plant with hot or very cold water droplets may also case spotting.
Brown-edged leaves Often the result of careless tending, perhaps the plant has been neglected and the soil is allowed to dry out frequently. Then the soil is flooded with water, damaging the plant’s roots. Brown edges also occur when a plant is exposed to drafts. Another cause is the accumulation of fertilizer salt on the edges of pots. When leaves rest against this, they develop a brown edge.
Leggy plants This occurs when the stem of the plant becomes overly long because it is reaching for more light or growing in a room that is too warm. Move such plants to a brighter and cooler location.
No flowers. This may be the result of overfeeding plants to induce lush foliage. Withhold feeding during winter months. Sometimes an abrupt break in routine, such as a drying off of the soil for a short time or a change of light exposure will cause a lazy plant to flower.
No growth The root of this problem lies in insufficient light. The plant exists in a languid state, neither producing new leaves nor growing larger. Move it to a brighter location to encourage growth.