Your tropical plants can thrive for many years – with a little help from you. To get the most from your investment, take the time to learn how to care for and enjoy your plants. Follow these guidelines to keep your plants healthy and beautiful all year long.
Is the Light Right?
Most plants will tolerate a wide range of light conditions, though some will balk at the heat of direct sunlight or the dimness of too much shade. Match your plant with its light location for best results.
Give them the Water they Need
Don’t wait for wilting as your cue to water. Under average conditions most tropical plants in the 10″ container use 2-4L of water every 5-7 days. Be sure to water thoroughly. If the pot dries out, the soils may shrink and allow the water to quickly run out the drain holes, fooling you into thinking it’s thoroughly watered when, in fact, the water is bypassing the roots. You may need to re-water the pot again in 15 minutes or soak it in a bucket of water for 10-15 minutes to thoroughly moisten the soil. Without water, a plant must die, however more plants die through overwatering than any other single cause. Roots need air as well as water, which means that the compost should be moist but not saturated. Use care and learn your plants watering requirements.
Misting Makes a Difference
Central heating can produce air with the relative humidity of the Sahara Dessert! Tropical plants need more humidity than you think, mostly in winter, but also in summer. Use a mister with tepid water to deposit a coating of small droplets over the leaves. Cover all the plant, not just one side. Misting also discourages spider mites and reduces dust deposits on leaves. Requirements will vary with the types of plant and growing conditions but misting should be done at least weekly, more in winter.
Fertilize when Needed
All plants need an adequate supply of food to be capable of producing healthy growth and full-sized leaves. The compost in the pot contains a strictly limited supply of nutrients and regular feeding when the plant is actively growing must take place. The time to feed regularly is during the growing season – spring to autumn for foliage plants. Keep in mind that if a little fertilizer is good, a lot is NOT better. Too much fertilizer will burn roots and damage plants.
Clean up your Plants
Dusting is an essential maintenance task as dust can pose a threat in several ways. It blocks the leaf pores so that the plant can no longer breathe properly, forms a light blocking screen so that the full effect of daylight is lost, and it spoils the appearance of the plant. Dead and yellowing leaves should also be removed regularly to enhance the appearance of the plant and discourage insect infestations.
Pest attacks are less common indoors than in the garden, but if they do occur and are allowed to get out of hand then serious damage can result. For most pests a threefold application of insecticidal soap at 4-5 day intervals will solve the problem, however should problems persist, contact Van Luyk’s for appropriate treatment.
Nearly all tropical plants require a dormant or resting period in winter when the amount of daylight shortens noticeably. Watering and feeding should be gradually decreased as the days shorten, and plants should be kept cooler to discourage new growth which the plant will not be able to support.