How to Plant a Container Garden (5 Necessary Steps)

How to Plant a Container Garden

Once you have chosen an area that receives enough sunlight, selected the container, and made or purchased a potting soil mix, now the fun begins; choosing your plants and learning how to plant a container garden.

Whenever you plan to use a variety of plants in your container, make sure that all of the ones you purchase have similar requirements for sunlight, the type of soil, and moisture.

In other words, buy plants that complement each other.

Research container design concepts and philosophies.

A container should generally have one “thriller” plant as tall as the container, surrounded by mid-sized filler plants (which grow in a full, mounded form).

If you want the container to look balanced, include vining or low-growing plants to soften the edges.

“Thriller, filler, and spiller” is the name given to this design concept.

Also, do not be afraid to use just one gorgeous plant or several plants of one variety.

Many great container gardens use just a single plant variety.

How to Plant a Container Garden

There are several steps when considering how to plant a container garden. First, ensure the container has drainage holes, but they should be covered with an absorbent fabric. This will retain the soil in the container. Potting mix is added first and may include an all-purpose, organic fertilizer. Ensure it reaches within a couple of inches of the top of the container. Next, the plants need to be carefully removed from their nursery pots before being arranged in the container. The final stage is to gently water the plants and add more potting soil, if appropriate, once the container has settled.

1. Cover the Drainage Holes

Cover the container’s drainage holes with absorbent landscape fabric or window screening to hold the soil inside the container and keep out insects.

The material you choose must allow water to drain freely from the container.

2. Fill the Container With Potting Mix

Put potting mix in the container to within one to two inches of the top of it.

Mix in fertilizer, carefully following directions for exact measurements.

This is especially true if you use conventional fertilizer, which can burn the roots of your plants if you over-use it.

An organic all-purpose, granular fertilizer is usually a good choice.

Make sure to mix well.

3. Remove the Plants From Nursery Pots

Plants should be carefully removed from their nursery pots.

To do this without harming the plants, flip the pot upside down and push the plants out by pushing through the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot.

If it is stuck, run a knife around the pot, between the plastic and the soil.

If a plant seems to be root-bound, gently tease the roots apart after extracting the plant from the pot.

Next, arrange the plants in the container, keeping in mind the direction from which the container will be viewed (from the rear, front, or all sides).

4. Place the Plants in the Container

Dig a hole for every plant deep enough to be at the same depth it was growing in its nursery pot.

You should not cover the plant’s crown (the point where the stem and roots meet) with soil.

Read the labels to ensure the plants have enough space to grow to their full potential.

Your container may appear sparse at first, but it will fill up as time goes on.

Fill the space around your plants with potting soil.

Ensure good contact between roots and the earth and press down around each plant to remove air pockets.

5. Water the Plants

Water generously, yet gently, until the liquid flows out of the bottom of the container.

After the first watering, you might need to add more potting soil to account for settling.

How to Grow Pot Plants in a Container Garden

Tips for Maintaining Your Container Garden

The most important part of maintaining a container garden is watering well and providing adequate food and the proper amount of fertilizer and water.

It is generally recommended to keep the potting mix moist but not wet.

When determining soil moisture, stick your finger down to the second knuckle into the soil.

If you still feel wetness, do not water.

It is tough to water your container on a sunny day because it will dry out faster, and wind can suck moisture out of a pot.

However, on cloudy or damp days, the container might not dry out as quickly.

That said, it is easy to be fooled by gentle rain, which can often lead to a relatively dry container garden.

Depending on the weather in your particular region and how hot it gets, you may have to water them more than once a day during the summer, especially if the containers are 10 inches or less in diameter.

Regular feeding will not be required if you have added fertilizer to the potting mix when you planted the container.

However, suppose you did not add granular or time-released fertilizer to the potting mix.

In that case, you should feed the container about twice a month using a water-soluble fertilizer solution.

Every time you water containers, nutrients leach out.

Plants grown in containers, therefore, require more frequent feeding than those in a garden bed.

Final Thoughts

I hope you enjoyed my article and now understand how to plant a container garden.

The most critical aspects are covering the drainage holes, filling the container with potting mix, and adding the chosen plants carefully.

Read Me Next===>Indoor Plants Healthy Living

How to Fertilize an Indoor Herb Garden

How to Fertilize an Indoor Herb Garden

Having planted your mini-masterpiece, you may be wondering how to fertilize your indoor herb garden.

Obviously, indoor plants can’t get the nutrients they need from rain and garden soil and need a helping hand.

After you have chosen the herbs for your indoor garden, you must select the right fertilizer.

Unfortunately, not all fertilizers are created equal. Despite some advertising claims, they can all be overused enough to damage your indoor herbs.

Let’s look at the type of fertilizers you can use, how to apply them, and why you need a monthly maintenance schedule.

How to Fertilize an Indoor Herb Garden

There are actually several types of fertilizer you can use for your indoor garden. These include packaged granular mixes and fish emulsions. The best option is one that is water-soluble, and it should be applied at one-quarter the recommended rate. Full strength fertilizer would be too concentrated. The herbs should be watered once per week, following a thorough watering. In addition, the herb garden will require a monthly flush to remove any harmful elements or salts. Outdoor plants are subject to natural cleansing, such as through rain showers. Still, an indoor garden will need extra help to complete the process.  

1. Types of Fertilizers You Can Use Indoors

Many types of fertilizers will work for an indoor herb garden.

Fertilizers are often referred to as plant food, but that’s not strictly true.

The process of photosynthesis supplies all the food that plants need, but fertilizer can provide micronutrients.

Think of it as adding extra minerals and vitamins.

Macronutrients are also necessary, such as nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus.

You can tell if any of your herbs lack specific nutrients by looking at the colour of their leaves.

Yellow leaves indicate a lack of nitrogen, brown edges show a need for potassium, and purple leaves reveal that more phosphorus is necessary.

For indoor feeding, use a water-soluble fertilizer or one that can be dissolved in water.

These can include:

  • A packaged granular that you measure and dissolve in water before applying
  • A fish emulsion that is concentrated and must be added to water before using

2. How to Apply Fertilizers

Regardless of the type of fertilizer you choose, you will apply it at one-quarter of the recommended rate.

This is because standard fertilizer ratios are too concentrated for container plants.

In a garden, the fertilizer naturally filters out into the soil surrounding the plant and the rest of the area.

As a result, the nutrients are dispersed, and the plant takes as much fertilizer as it needs for healthy growth.

However, everything inside the pot is trapped for potted indoor herbs, so the fertilizer has nowhere to go.

As a result, a build-up can occur, and too much fertilizer can end up doing more harm than good to your plants.

To apply fertilizer most efficiently, follow this procedure once a week:

  1. Mix the fertilizer at one-quarter the strength recommended by the manufacturer
  2. Water your herb plants thoroughly
  3. Apply the weakened fertilizer solution

By watering the plant before fertilization, you will increase the plant’s absorption rate.

This is because it has already soaked up a lot of water in the potting soil, and the roots are actively soaking up the water.

If you forget to fertilize for a week or more, do not over-fertilize the next time to make up for the missed opportunity.

Instead, simply fertilize as if you didn’t miss a week.

3. Monthly Maintenance When Fertilizing an Indoor Herb Garden

It is absolutely essential to flush your indoor herb plants every month.

The containers can trap salts and harmful elements inside the soil that would usually be filtered through the ground of an outdoor garden.

Further, the environment inside your home is not conducive to natural cleansing processes such as rain and fresh air circulation.

This can counteract your fertilization efforts and inhibit plant growth.

If you want your indoor plants to be happy and healthy, take once a month to flush the soil.

It is straightforward and can be done while you work on other projects around the house.

  1. Put the herb plant in the sink and water it thoroughly.
  2. Allow all of the excess moisture to drain out.
  3. Once it stops dripping, water it entirely once again.
  4. Drain it entirely in the sink and return it to its sunny spot.

This simple process will remove any salts in the soil, and it is the perfect time for your weekly fertilizer.

You can also take this opportunity to mist your herbs, as they need high humidity to encourage growth.

Placing the herb pots on a tray of pebbles containing water can also help create the necessary humidity.

Container Herb Gardening

Final Thoughts

So, we have now learned the importance of how to fertilize an indoor herb garden.

Indoor plants cannot access the nutrients they need, such as nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus.

A water-soluble fertilizer is ideal and should be used at a quarter-strength.

A monthly maintenance schedule is also necessary for the optimum growth of your herbs.

Thoroughly flushing the herb pots will ensure the removal of salts and toxins from the soil.

Make time to mist your herbs as well to help with providing humidity.

If you fertilize your indoor herb garden regularly, it ensures continued growth.

You can look forward to delicious herbs year-round.

Read Me Next===>A Hydroponic System of Salads

Easy Grow House Plants

What is it that makes people want to bring the outside in? And could a house plant habit be useful for you? These questions may be on your mind when starting with house plants. In this post, you’re going to learn precisely why indoor planting is so widespread. This guide also includes lots of information on the benefits of connecting with nature. Let’s dive right in!

The History of House Plants

Our love of house plants has deep roots. History has recorded that the ancient Greeks filled their villas with violets in Terracotta tubs. At the same time, the Romans preferred blowsy roses in marble urns. The Chinese grew miniature trees in dishes. The Pharaohs soothed sunburn with aloe vera. Medieval books show monks spending hours hunched over pots of herbs, tending ingredients for salves and cures.

A few centuries later, explorers like Columbus brought back dazzling new species from the Americas. Plant fever raged; orangeries sprang up across Europe as botany boomed. From the glittering glass palaces of Kew, through a million Victorian parlours, indoor plants colonised our homes and hearts. Succulents and cacti turned the grey-glassed offices of the 20th-century green, and by the exuberant ’70s, rubber plants and Swiss cheese plants thrived in every home, civic space and Columbo movie. Clearly, our passion for indoor plants has never waned.

And now it’s blooming again. Why? Turns out all those interiors magazines showing gorgeous botanical prints on wallpaper, curtains and cushions were trying to tell us something about the real living things. Recent surveys show that houseplant sales are booming – a trend driven mainly by city dwellers, millennials, hipsters and renters. Studies also reveal that although the biggest reason for buying is home styling and decoration, it’s closely followed by people who want to improve their home’s air quality and their personal wellbeing. Instagram is jungle-lush with the trailing, the spiky and the fronded and houseplant-themed tweets run daily into the thousands.

Starting with House Plants

Which indoor plants are the easiest to take care of?

Below is a list of indoor plants that are easy to take care of:

  • Sansevieria
  • Philodendron
  • Most succulents
  • Pothos
  • ZZ plant
Starting with House Plants

But before you rush to the garden centre, think about why you’re embracing indoor planting. RHS Chelsea Flower Show gold medallist Ian Drummond believes that while the Victorians loved displaying individual diva plants that were exotic and remarkable, and the ’70s were about joyful abundance, today’s is much more environmentally aware and mindful. It’s all about considering our displays and being conscious both of the effects we want to create in our homes and to understand the nurturing benefits of our choices.

The Backlash Against Minimalism

In his book At Home with Plants, Ian together with co-author and interiors expert Kara O’Reilly, suggests we’re now seeing a backlash against everything pale, neat and minimalist and, in its place, a rekindling of thinking of our homes as sanctuaries. For Ian, plants personalise spaces, making them welcoming places to return to, relax in and recharge. But as experts on biophilia (the benefits of people connecting with nature), Ian and Kara are also keen to emphasise how much houseplants give us in return; they boost our moods and help concentration; they refresh oxygen levels and cleanse the air of nasties, converting them into their food supply. As Ian and Kara put it, “it’s a win-win situation.”

Starting with House Plants

Fran Bailey, author, florist and creator of the fantastic houseplant emporium Forest, in Deptford, would be the first to agree. “Our connection with plants is primal,” she writes in her book, The Healing Power of Plants. “We depend on them for our basic human needs, from the air we breathe to the food we eat. Today we have greater wisdom of their healing power and their extraordinary range of properties.” [bctt tweet=”House plants help us keep alert, calm us when we feel stressed and bring joy and beauty to our work and living spaces” username=”dianescorpion”].”

So, Where Do You Start?

Fran, who together with horticulturalist Zia Allaway wrote The Royal Horticultural Society Practical House Plant Book, suggests linking plants visually, using their shape, colour, texture or scale. Connecting through harmony and repetition of these elements, say Fran and Zia, creates balance; juxtaposing for contrast builds drama. So, if you’re looking for something to calm a busy hallway, try same-scaled plants, perhaps a row of kentia palms in matching pots.

Starting with House Plants

Texture vs Shape

For more impact, mix things up using texture and shape – maybe devil’s ivy toppling down from a cluster of zebra plants? Succulents and cacti are always worth the houseroom since their low maintenance nature, and almost alien appearance bring vitality to any space. Better still, bright pops of green can invigorate places you might never have considered display-worthy. A glowing run of jade plants on top of a sunny bookcase?

Indoor Plants for Beginners

To build particular moods, Ian suggests grouping plants on shelves with objects – perhaps photos, pebbles, a postcard from a holiday – for an emotional connection. The vast and vibrant range of planters available – vintage, Moroccan, rustic – will also tie a collection together and accentuate your style choice at the same time. And, best of all, once you have your display, it will continue to reward you. As Zia, mentioning a moth orchid displayed in her own kitchen, explains, “it’s bloomed non-stop for over nine months – how could a bunch of flowers ever compete with that?”

Pink Orchid

Why not treat yourself to this gorgeous orchid? Click the image for more details!

Beauty with Benefits

To fully appreciate the practical benefits of filling your home with plants, first, you have to consider their role in a space station. In the ’80s, NASA carried out a study entitled “Interior Landscape Plants for Indoor Air Pollution Abatement.” The two-year investigation, focusing on the number of pollutants absorbed by a dozen common plants, concluded that houseplants had the potential to dramatically improve air quality in a sealed environment such as a space station – but the same applies to modern office buildings and also your home.

The hero of the study was the humble gerbera. Not only does it filter out trichloroethylene (found in printing inks and paint), formaldehyde (tissues, synthetic fabric), and xylene (leather, vehicle exhausts) but, unlike most plants, it also produces oxygen at night. Flamingo lilies, weeping figs, bamboo palm, and snake plant, were all also found to improve air quality. What’s more, most houseplants don’t release pollen, making them an excellent choice for hay fever sufferers.

Improved air quality isn’t the only benefit of owning houseplants. Smell is the most emotionally evocative of our five senses. Yet, the natural aromatherapy of houseplants can sometimes be overlooked. When it comes to choosing plants that beautifully fragrance a room, Zia suggests Nelly Isler orchids for their “wonderful lemony fragrance.” “Cape jasmine and stephanotis have richly perfumed flowers and are great for a hallway to welcome guests into your home,” she adds.

Flowers Fast - The Popular Online Florist

But don’t forget, as Angie Nilson at Pelargonium for Europe explains, some of our garden flowers, such as scented geraniums, thrive indoors too, and effortlessly bring summer into your home when they’re potted up into rustic terracotta containers of varying sizes. Don’t be afraid to try displaying other scented plants such as lavender indoors – the heavenly scents will lift your mood every day.

Natural Healing

Fundamentally, in our technologically besotted, connected but isolated times, plants reunite us with nature – a basic human desire. Sadly, ever since the Industrial Revolution, we’ve moved further and further from the natural world’s rhythms and patterns. Long dark nights and uncomfortable winter chills are remedied at the touch of a button. Once seasonal, fruit and vegetables fill supermarkets all year round. Yet studies continue to show that mentally, physically and emotionally, being in touch with nature is essential for human well being. No wonder then that last year the RHS joined forces with the NHS at the Chelsea Flower Show. The show’s Feel Good Gardens, designed to offer a therapeutic space, will be replanted at mental health trusts around the UK to benefit patients using those sites.

Even the rituals associated with plant care can be mindful and life-affirming. Watering, taking cuttings, potting, bedding in, misting, plucking off dead petals and cleaning leaves can all be done while engaging our senses and with a focused awareness on the present. Plants are naturally tied to their own cycles, and they can remind us of our own. In our screen-fixated worlds, they offer genuine connection. The feel of the soil. The mud that clings to your fingers. Once you’re an adult, where do you even get fun like that?

Lady Palm Tree - Medium

So, it’s actually true – greens really are good for you! Stylish, nurturing, mood-enhancing and enduringly real, houseplants offer us natural, living comfort in our digitised and indoor lives. Small wonder that our love for them is growing more potent than ever. Which leaves only one question; which ones will you fall in love with? Let me know in the comments below. Happy planting!

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Edible Flower Arrangements

Edible Flower Arrangements

It is no secret that flowers are incredibly versatile plants, and in this post, you are going to learn precisely how to create edible flower arrangements. Flowers are beautiful, can be used as ingredients in lotions and perfumes, work well in art, can be used for colours and pigments, and so much more. But did you know they can be used in edible flower arrangements?

That is right; edible flowers and also some weeds are a great way to get an extra kick of vitamins C and A in your diet and can be grown in your own home or garden. Therefore, this guide also includes lots of suggestions for the best flowers to use.

The greens and petals of some weeds and flowers can have wonderful effects on your health, and generations of people have been eating these edible treats for years. But it is important to note that not all flowers are edible. In fact, some can be poisonous if consumed, so knowing which flowers you can eat and which you should not can definitely come in handy.

The following is a list of edible flowers, their benefits, and some reasons why you should add them to your diet. Let us dive right in!

Best Edible Flowers

  • Borage blossoms
  • Courgette blossoms
  • Hibiscus
  • Lavender
  • Pansies
  • Roses
  • Sage flowers
Edible Flower Arrangements

Edible Flower Arrangements

Different flowers, weeds, and greens have various health benefits. Some groups are rich in vitamins and minerals. In contrast, others aid specific bodily systems such as the digestive tract, cardiovascular systems, and others. The following are edible flowers grouped by their health benefits.

Edible Flowers High in Vitamins and Minerals:

  • Marigolds, portulacas, purslanes, roses, and chives are all rich in vitamin C.
  • Edible weeds such as dandelion flowers are also high in vitamins A and C, and the greens are chock full of healthy minerals, phosphorous, calcium, and iron. These help build strong bones, reduce cholesterol and inflammation, and regulate weight and metabolism.

Digestive Aids:

  • Elderberry and calendula blooms are the leading flowers which help with digestion. Frequent stomach problems such as cramping, bloating, irregularity, and constipation can be improved by adding these flowers to your meals.
  • Goldenrod blooms also assist with digestion in addition to their work to soothe urinary tract infections and even relieve allergies. They can be added in salads, to baked goods, or used as a garnish for main courses. If used to make teas, they can be excellent for reducing fevers and stimulating the immune system.

Stress and Sleep Aids:

  • Vibrant California poppies, soft chamomile blooms, and lavender flowers are well-known sleep and stress aids. They come in oils, teas, lotions, drops, medications, and even bath soaps. They are a delicious and natural way to unwind at the end of the long day and promise a night of restful sleep.
Plant Stand

Why not treat yourself to this Bamboo Five Tier Potted Plant Stand? Click the image above for the cheapest price!

Detox Aids:

  • The Hibiscus flower contains several antioxidants which can prevent cholesterol deposits and even help liver problems and disorders. Antioxidants are useful anti-ageing nutrients, which also reduce the risk of cancer and inflammation. They cleanse the body of toxins which build up every day from the foods we eat. They remove stress, dirty air, and some everyday household products. When the body is cleansed of these, you feel better, more alert, lighter, and even happier.
Edible Flower Arrangements

Pain Relievers:

  • Honeysuckle and hyssop flowers are excellent edible flowers for relieving respiratory problems as well as soothing pain in the stomach and colon. Mullein flowers help with these problems as well as headaches and other everyday body aches.

Antibiotic vs Anti-inflammatory Aids:

  • [bctt tweet=”Nasturtiums are useful little flowers that contain natural antibiotic properties and are great when fighting an infection or bacterial illness.” username=”dianescorpion”]
  • Red clover blooms are even more useful as they are an effective blood purifier and can be consumed through a great tasting tea.
  • Violets and violas contain anti-inflammatory properties as well, which help with relaxation and soothe the worst symptoms of colds and fevers.

Look for Recipes

Once your garden is in full bloom, you can begin exploring natural recipes for your edible greens, flowers, and weeds.

Teas, salads, baked goods, jellies and jams, loaves of bread, stir-fries, roasts, and several other dishes can include these delicious and natural additions. Your family will enjoy the health benefits which come along with them.

These blooms and more are an excellent way to get to nature and brighten up your diet. There are some flowers such as apple, pear, lemon, orange, begonia, tulip, and more, which are perfect just for flavouring. Add to your garden and see what you can really do!

Edible Flower Arrangements

Best Edible Arrangements

The best place to buy edible flowers is at your local market, run by farmers. They will have a large selection, and you can make sure they are organic and not sprayed with pesticides or other chemicals.

You can also check the produce section at your grocery store (not the floral part) or order them online with websites which post overnight for optimal freshness. You can even grow your own; be sure to learn the proper method of food safety.

Turning to nature is undoubtedly an effective and smart way to achieve your best health. You should bear in mind that many of these natural remedies are not always backed by doctors or even approved by the National Health Service.

Alternative health shops and websites may offer glowing reviews of these edible flowers and the natural remedies they offer. Still, it is up to you to do thorough research before adding these to your diet.

Once you have ensured that the flowers, greens, and weeds you want to consume are indeed safe, you can begin to use them to enhance the flavour of your food and your health.

  1. Wash the flowers carefully before using them. Use a clean pastry brush to wipe off any stubborn insects or residue.
  2. Wait for a dry morning to pick young buds and flowers. This keeps the flavours and colours more intense before the midday sun has had a chance to actually dry them out.
  3. Use flowers on the first day you pick them for the best results or pop them in the fridge for a few days at the most. If you decide to freeze your flowers, make sure you cook or infuse them to get the most out of them.

Your Own Organic Vegetable Garden

During the last few years, there has been a change towards the use of machines and homogenisation of farming. This includes pesticides, additives, herbicides, synthetic fertilisers and mass-production techniques. All this is clearly affecting mankind’s health, and new diseases are spreading rapidly amongst humans and animals (bird flu and coronavirus being the most recent ones).

The World Health Organisation produces information. They show how the use of chemicals and other artificial products on food, plus the manufacturing processes involved, are actually a serious threat to our health.

You may actually have space for a few pots or even have a small piece of land. It is a wise decision to grow your own organic vegetable garden. Today I am presenting you with seven reasons for doing this.

Garden Inspiration

No Additives, Fertilisers or Modification

1. You will have no additives in your vegetables. Research by natural food associations has shown that additives in our food can cause heart diseases, osteoporosis, and migraines.

2. There will be no pesticides or synthetic fertilisers used. Chemical products are applied to crops all the time, regardless of plagues of insects or weather conditions, and affect the quality of the vegetables. Besides, pesticides are usually poisonous to humans.

Edible Flower Arrangements

3. Your plants will not be genetically modified (GM). Antibiotics, drugs, and hormones are used on vegetables to grow more, larger varieties. One of the consequences of this practice are vegetables which look all the same and are usually tasteless. We end up consuming the hormones which have been used on the greens, with the potential risks for our health.

Health, Taste and the Environment

4. Eating your own organic vegetables will be much more healthy for you. They will not contain any of the products or chemicals named above, and they will be much more natural than any ones you would find at the supermarket. Your health will not be at risk because you will know that nothing artificial has been added to your vegetables.

Edible Flower Arrangements

5. Undoubtedly, your own organic vegetables will be much tastier. The use of pesticides, synthetic fertilisers, hormones, and antibiotics make plants grow unnaturally and take the taste away from them. With organic vegetables, your cooking will be enhanced as their flavour will show fully.

6. Organic farming is friendly to the environment. Because you will not use pesticides or other equally harming products on your vegetables, you will not damage the soil or the air with the chemical components.

7. When you grow your own organic vegetables, you are contributing to your personal self-sufficiency and the sustainability of the planet. Small communities have been founded where members exchange products which they grow naturally, thus contributing to creating a friendly and better place for us all.

Edible Flower Arrangements

In the end, eating organic products means that we do not add anything else to them than they would naturally have. As you can guess, additives, fertilisers, pesticides or hormones are not components of naturally grown food. To better care for your health, grow your own organic vegetables; a few pots is all you need.

Don’t forget to check out my sales page for recommended products at a great price!

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Cleaning Plant Leaves

Cleaning Plant Leaves

Outside, rain doesn’t just provide water to plants; it also washes off dust, fallen petals, pollen, dead insects and other detritus that can collect on the leaves of a plant. In doing so, it keeps the sunlight-absorption rates of the leaves as high as possible. When it comes to cleaning plant leaves indoors, that is an entirely different matter.

Inside, of course, there is no rain to provide that service for house plants, and also potentially a lot more dust that can accumulate on their leaves. A little cleaning now and then keeps the plants bright and healthy, and also removes any pests that might have taken up residence. The foliage of houseplants can develop a dull appearance over time due to the build-up of minerals from your water, or from regular dust and dirt accumulation.

How to Clean

Cleaning methods depend on the plant type and size. A delicate maidenhair fern cannot be cleaned in the same way as a thick and waxy-leaved fig. There is no right way to go about it; deploy common sense and any available materials. For most, a quick shower is sufficient; though for the most delicate-leaved, use a misting spray bottle rather than a power shower. Fill a spray bottle with warm water. Add ¼ tsp liquid dishwashing soap without degreaser. Put the spray nozzle on the bottle and shake it to incorporate the detergent into the water. Direct the shower up from underneath to clean the undersides of the leaves. Wipe the leaves off with one side of a clean cloth. This will remove the mineral deposits or dirt, causing the plant to look dull.

Clean Plant Leaves

If a plant hasn’t been cleaned in a while, has got a little greasy as well as dusty, (typical for kitchen plants), and/or has large waxy leaves on which water spots would be apparent, combine the shower with a gentle rub using a soft cloth or piece of kitchen paper along the top and the bottom of the leaf. Hold and support the foliage on the other side as you do this to avoid breaking or damaging it. Water-based baby wipes, without added fragrances or chemicals, are also great for wiping leaves. For the most delicate and intricate plants, such as succulents, use a soft paintbrush to dust the leaves, or a damp cotton bud to clean them.

Cleaning Plant Leaves

Leave plants to drip-dry away from direct sunlight, as they may scorch, before returning them to their usual spot. If limescale spots could be a problem, dry each leaf carefully with a soft (microfibre) cloth.

Leaf Shine

It is possible to purchase a polishing spray, “leaf shine”, that can be used to clean and polish leaves in one go, giving them a shiny and spot-free appearance. Still, these are best avoided because they can block the pores, leaving the leaves unable to absorb carbon dioxide.

Plant Basket

Six Indoor Plants Which Love the Dark

It was a long search that took me more than ten years. But finally, I found it; an indoor house plant that will brighten up the end of a corridor five metres from my front door. The Aspidistra, commonly known as the Cast Iron plant, has graced the drawing rooms of many an otherwise drab Victorian English manor, and now graces my suburban brick home.

Many gardening experts describe the Aspidistra as one of the most robust and most adaptable house plants. Its long blades of slender dark green, or variegated dark green and white leaves, shoot straight out from the soil, but in clumps and up to 75 cm in height and 15 cm wide.

Cleaning Plant Leaves

It is a low maintenance plant but still maintains its sweet nature. It requires very low light, average temperature and humidity and just occasional watering.

Other Plants That Do Not Need Much Light

Low-light plants are usually defined as those that can survive in a spot that is four to five metres from a bright window. Just enough light to read by comfortably, but where artificial lighting switched on by day would give a brightening effect.

Cleaning Plant Leaves

Why not treat yourself to this Calathea Plant and bring life and colour to your home?

You can easily find the Aspidistra in your local garden centre nursery. Also, five other plants that will suit deficient light situations are the following:

Aglaonema (Chinese Evergreen) are among the few plants that prefer only moderate light and adapt well to low light. It has large dark green oval, then tapering, leathery leaves, later developing a strong base.

Dracaena deremensis varieties (also known as Happy or Fortune Plants) are slender leafed and usually white variegated. The Dracaena family are tough plants crested with decorative rosettes of foliage.

Holly fern, which adapts to low light, and the Boston fern will remain in low light for many months but need a spell in brighter light to rejuvenate.

Neanthe Bella or Parlor Palm is more suited to low light situations than most palms.

Sansevieria (also known as Mother-In-Laws Tongue) stands low to very bright light and has waxy, erect leaves, usually with cream-coloured margins and an unusual banding of the grey-green centre.

Cleaning Plant Leaves

If you are finding it difficult to find a plant that will brighten up that dark corner, why not try one of these hardy and lovely favourites of mine?

Start Plants Indoors

[bctt tweet=”With house plants, as with all gardening, the key to success is to start small.” username=”@dianescorpion”]It is very easy to get carried away in garden centres, nurseries and on the internet. Try just a couple, to begin with, rather than filling the entire house with plants, and see how you get on with those before slowly expanding and accumulating a collection.

Remember that all of these plants will take time to look after, and take up space. However, getting started with house plants is very easy. If you have the necessary space and funds, gradually establishing a collection is simple.

This website will help you on your way with further articles. It details some of the ways to get hold of suitable plants, what is needed to care for them, (minimal that isn’t already in a kitchen drawer), and a few basic techniques; for example, sowing seeds, potting and repotting plants, and supporting climbers.

Tips for Healthy House Plants

Houseplants bring a little bit of nature indoors; a beautiful touch of green that’s not only soothing, but that softens hard lines and glaring lights in a home or office. They can even improve indoor air quality.

“Houseplants can be a natural way to decorate your home,” says Bayer Advanced™ garden expert Lance Walheim, who is a regular contributor to Sunset magazine and who has authored or contributed to more than 30 books. “They can last for years if you provide the proper care”.

• Match plants with light conditions. Houseplants vary in their light requirements. Some prefer intense light found right next to a south-facing window. Others thrive in the soft morning light of an east-facing window.

Cleaning Plant Leaves

• Use quality potting soil. Good potting soil, (never use regular garden soil in containers), promotes healthy roots by providing a balance of proper aeration, nutrition and moisture-holding capability.

• Water properly. Houseplants need frequent watering. Stick your finger into the top five centimetres of soil. If it is dry, it’s probably time to water. Water thoroughly, so the entire rootball is wet and the excess water runs out the bottom of the pot. Don’t leave standing water in the catch tray for more than a day or two because that can promote root disease.

• Fertilise regularly. The frequent watering required by most houseplants leaches nutrients out of the soil. Be sure to fertilise regularly.

Aquaponics 4 You

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Humidity, Cleaning and Pests

• Increase humidity and avoid drafts. Keep plants away from heater vents, doorways or drafty windows. Increase humidity by setting plants on trays layered with small pebbles and filled with water. Or place them in naturally humid areas like kitchens or bathrooms, (but only if there is adequate light).

• Keep the foliage clean. Dust that accumulates on the leaves of houseplants will block light and harbour insect pests. Clean leaves by wiping them with a moist towel or, in mild winter areas, take plants outdoors and hose them off. See the start of this article for further instructions.

• Control insect pests. Many insect pests, including aphids, whiteflies, mealybugs and scales, can quickly get out of control on houseplants. You can keep them at bay with Bayer Bug Free. It is useful for control of whitefly, greenfly, blackfly, scale insects, spider mite and mealybug. It can be used on ornamental garden plants including houseplants, trees and shrubs. Certified for organic use by the Organic Farmers and Growers. Use pesticides safely and always read the label.

Cleaning Plant Leaves

Thank you for reading my article, and I hope you found some useful advice on cleaning plant leaves, discovered indoor plants which love the dark, and enjoyed my top tips for keeping your house plants healthy. Please leave any comments or questions below, and I will get back to you soon.

Indoor Plants Healthy Living

Indoor Plants Healthy Living

Having a basic understanding of photosynthesis will lead to an appreciation of what plants need to grow and thrive. Having healthy indoor plants leads to a healthy living lifestyle.


In case school biology classes seem an awfully long time ago, these are the essential facts. Plants make their own food through a process called photosynthesis. To do this, they need light, water and carbon dioxide.

Limiting any one of these factors can lead to the plant struggling or even dying.

Indoor Plants Healthy Living

Plants photosynthesise using a chemical called chlorophyll, which is what makes plants look green, absorbs sunlight and turns the carbon dioxide and water into glucose (sugar) and oxygen. Some of the glucose is stored as starch, while the rest gets used up as energy for the plant to grow. A plant requires a range of nutrients to create chlorophyll for photosynthesis and other processes within it for healthy growth. Outside, there is plenty of sunlight, carbon dioxide and (with adequate rainfall) water, and the soil can provide the necessary nutrients. Indoors, gardeners need to provide water and nutrients and to position the plant for sufficient light.

Applying the Science

Rule one when caring for any house plant is to put it in the environment in which it has evolved and to which it has adapted. In other words, a cactus that has grown in the arid, sunny climate of a desert will not do well if it is kept in a shady, humid bathroom. Likewise, a Swiss cheese plant adapted to the lower levels of the tropical rainforest will not do well on a bright, and drafty window sill.

Rule two is to try and make sure that the plant is never stressed by lack of water, light or nutrients, as this will weaken it and make it more susceptible to disease and pest infestation. Checking plants daily will take just a few moments, but is far better for the plant than having to take remedial measures every now and then.

Keeping Plants Tidy

When a house plant becomes a little too happy in its situation, some action may be required to keep it from taking over the house. To an extent, not being in its ideal outdoor environment (for example, a dry, cold living room rather than a tropical jungle) will keep a house plant’s size under control. Restricting the roots in a pot and not over-feeding will also help. However, to further control a plant’s size, it can be pruned, either above or below ground.

Root Pruning

Root pruning is simple and best done in spring when the plant is growing well. Remove the plant from the pot. Use a sharp kitchen knife to shave off a couple of centimetres of roots and compost all the way around the root ball, then put it back into the pot with some fresh compost to fill the gaps.

Indoor Plants Healthy Living

Promoting Flowers and a Better Shape

Pruning is also done to make plants more attractive; to encourage a better shape or more flowering. Plants that would naturally grow leggy, single stems, such as geraniums or chrysanthemums, can be pinched out as they grow. This will encourage a bushier shape that bears more flowers. Regularly snip or pinch out the tips of new growth. This method also works well for herbs.

Climbing and Larger Plants

Climbers and trailing plants can have their shoots cut back when they reach the extent of their supports, or start getting in the way. Trimming little and often is better than an infrequent drastic cut back. Likewise, pruning the woody stems of larger plants is better done by cutting back no more than a third at a time.

Indoor Plants Healthy Living

Indoor Plants Healthy Living

The guiding principles should be:

  • Always cut back to just above a bud
  • Refer to the individual plant’s requirements in the Plant Files of this website
  • Learn how to best care for plants through observation of their growing habits in their unique situation
  • Think twice and cut once

General Housekeeping

All house plants will shed old leaves at some point. Remove these and any other detritus, and promptly cut back dead stems to avoid rot setting in, which can spread to the plant, and to retain a healthy, green appearance. Having healthy indoor plants leads to a healthy living lifestyle.

Indoor Plants Healthy Living


Different species will suit varied room conditions. They are grown not for their foliage but for their long-lasting displays of beautiful, delicate and intricate flowers. Orchids like high humidity around their leaves, and do not like to sit in wet compost. The best compost option is a free-draining potting mix consisting mainly of bark chips (buy a proprietary orchid compost). Keep the plant in a pot with drainage holes. Its roots will also protrude above the pot but don’t be tempted to tidy them inside because if you do they will rot.

Water thoroughly about once a week, ensuring all excess has drained away, and mist to supplement humidity when required. Feed using a specialist orchid fertiliser once a month, spring and summer. Keep the leaves clean. Prune only to remove dead leaves, flower spikes and roots.

Click here to buy your very own Orchid Apollon! 

Indoor Plants Healthy Living

Moth Orchid (Phalaenopsis)

Give this plant bright but not direct light. Avoid fluctuating temperatures, although flowering can be induced by moving to a cooler room for a month. Produces tall spikes of flowers from flat, almost rectangular rosettes of dark-green waxy leaves. Flowers can last for months, and colours vary between varieties. Prune the spike back to its second joint below the flowers once they’ve finished, and it may produce a secondary spike.


Similar flowers to the moth orchid but its leaves are tall and strappy. Give this plant bright but not direct light. As flower spikes develop, keep the temperature below 15 degrees centigrade; otherwise, the buds can drop off prematurely.


Best grown in an open-weave or slatted basket, out of which their roots can hang, species of Vanda have a flat, fan-shaped rosette of leaves. The flower spike is produced from the top of this rosette. Allow bright but not direct light and relatively humid conditions; supplement by misting the roots daily, more often if very dry, but always allowing to dry them out between watering. Feed by misting with a diluted fertiliser or plunging in a diluted solution for 10 minutes once a week. Having healthy indoor plants leads to a healthy living lifestyle.

Six Easy Tips on How to Care for Your Plants

Many people worry a lot when it comes to caring for their plants. When talking about house plants, there is no need to panic. There are just a few things you need to consider.


A watering can is a must-have in every home. It is recommended that you purchase one with a narrow spout to ensure adequate watering. However, that does not always apply, so the finger test may come in handy. Insert your index finger up to the first joint into the soil. If you feel that the earth is damp, don’t water it. Otherwise, do.

Indoor Plants Healthy Living


With foliage plants, they always need to be high in nitrogen. For flowering plants, on the other hand, K2O is needed. Fertilisers such as the slow release ones can be mixed with the compost. However, some plants such as cacti and orchids need special feeds. Feed plants based on the height of their active growth.


Plants such as Sanseveria and Aspidistra require no shade. They can be placed away from a window. Spider plants need semi-shade. You can put plants like these near a window that does or does not get sunlight. Others need the sun or perhaps no sun at all, such as cheese plants.

Temperature, Humidity and Repotting


With houseplants, they can survive in temperatures a little bit higher than 15 to 25 degrees centigrade or 55 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. However, drastic fluctuations in temperature may not be suitable for them.


Some houseplants require a humid environment. One tip to maximise humidity is to put the pot inside a larger container and fill in the gaps with stones or compost to keep in the moisture. The compost will not dry out. Plants are capable of creating their own climate if grouped together. This tip can also be used for keeping the soil moist. If you want, you can spray them with water once or twice a day, depending on the temperature.

Indoor Plants Healthy Living


Other plants require repotting for optimum growth, but some may not be suitable for this treatment. They would not want their roots to be disturbed, or other plants’ root systems may be too small. One way to check if your plant needs repotting is to turn it upside down. Tap the pot to release the plant and check its roots. If the roots are all you see, then repot.

You just need to have a little care for your plants, and in turn, you’ll reap their benefits. Don’t only have plants that can add to your house’s beauty; you can also learn how to respect and nurture life in its varied forms. Having healthy indoor plants leads to a healthy living lifestyle.

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What Does Microclimate Mean?

What Does Micro Climate Mean?

Every room can accommodate at least one plant. House plants need not have the restriction of windowsills. They can be put on shelves, the floor, kitchen worktops, desks or side tables. Perhaps hung from the ceiling or staircases or fixed to the walls.

Each room in the house will have its own micro climate. That can be suitable to grow a wide range of plants within a single home. However, what does micro climate mean? These plants are often those that would not generally suit being grown in that region. For example, in a city house in Edinburgh, it is possible to produce exotic tropical plants. They would have no hope of surviving the cold Scottish winters outdoors.

What is a Micro Climate?

What is a Micro Climate?

Climate describes the general attributes of the long-term weather patterns within a country, region or city. A micro climate describes the conditions within a much smaller area. That could be a room or even a single corner of that room. You can create different micro climates in a house by using variations in light and shade, humidity and warmth. For example, a steamy bathroom with south-facing, double-glazed windows. If it has an extractor fan that doesn’t work very well, it would have a humid, warm atmosphere. A spare bedroom with north-facing single-glazed windows could have a small radiator. If that is set to low, it would have a generally cool, if not cold, shady atmosphere; unless guests were staying, in which case the micro climate would change to being much warmer.

A Plant for Every Situation

It is always better to avoid wasting money, time and love on an unsuitable plant. Assess the various micro climates within each room and use this information to display suitable plants; lush exotic jungles in humid places, cacti and desert plants for sunny windowsills, ferns for shady spots. Avoid buying a plant first and putting it in a spot that simply has the wrong conditions for it. Use the plant files on this website for inspiration on useful plants for different situations.

What Does Micro Climate Mean?

Things to Watch Out For

Every home will have varying temperatures through the seasons. By and large, these are things that will not affect the growth and health of houseplants. Sudden and severe changes and extreme conditions, however, are what to avoid and be aware of.


Although a plant may appear to be in a warm spot, if it is in the way of chilling and drying draughts, it will suffer. Obviously, doors and windows are the main culprits, but air bricks can also create a cold breeze. Don’t forget that a draught can carry a long way down a hallway.

Landscaping Ideas

Central Heating

Overall, central heating can have a drying effect. In warm rooms, some plants may need a light misting to retain sufficient humidity around their leaves. Avoid placing leafy plants near or above radiators as they may dry out excessively in the hot air around them, causing brown, crispy foliage.

Snow Globe Micro Climate


On the face of it, the ideal spot for a houseplant is a windowsill, but be aware, again, of extreme temperatures. Plants can be scorched easily on a sunny day, especially on leaves that are very close to, or touching, the glass. Temperature changes can also be more dramatic on a windowsill – it can get sweltering when the sun is out but dramatically colder at night (especially with single glazing).

Draughty windows and frequent opening and closing of blinds or curtains can cause further problems, as it can be easy to knock and damage a plant. Pets who enjoy looking out the window can also injure houseplants as they seek their own space on the windowsill.


This is the name given to the phenomenon whereby a plant will lean towards the most reliable light source. Over time, it can lead to all the leaf growth protruding from one side of the plant, creating an uneven appearance. Rotating plants regularly will ensure even, upright growth.

Uneven Leaves Micro Climate

Dampness and Humidity

If suitable plants are chosen, damp rooms should not cause too many problems. However, ensure that you remove dead foliage and other detritus promptly to avoid grey mould (Botrytis cinerea) and other fungal diseases.

Temperature Variations

Plants will suffer when kept in a room that is generally kept cool but then suddenly receives heat, such as a guest bedroom. Similarly, plants can become damaged when left in an unheated house while the owner is on holiday (see more about this here). Mitigate these problems by temporarily moving plants to another location that is closer in temperature to their usual spot.

Standard Cotinus Royal Purple: Smoke Bush Tree

As a change to this discussion on micro climates when growing indoors, I thought I would introduce you to one of my favourite small trees.

The beautiful Royal Purple Smoke Bush is now available as a Patio Standard tree! Perfect for keeping shaped as a centrepiece to any planter or even in the garden border, this tree comes with an approx 70cms clear stem, topped off with branches and foliage which will fill out year-on-year. Simply give excessive growth an occasional trim to maintain and develop a rounded head of foliage of magnificent, dark red-purple leaves. In Autumn, these will turn vivid scarlet-red, but before this in summer, fluffy, smoke-like plumes of purplish-pink flowers will appear, hence the name Purple Smoke Tree!

This purple-leaved smoke tree will make an eye-catching specimen plant in a sunny mixed border, or when used in a large planter. The clear stem means it can be under planted with other contrasting plants to provide a foil for the rich purple foliage. Perhaps some silver foliage such as Calocephalus would suit?

Smoke Bush Tree

Click here for your very own Smoke Bush Tree!

Cultivation is best in dry, infertile soils, which keeps the growth habit more compact and also improves the autumn colour; when planted in fertile soil, they become large, coarse and also tend to be short-lived, succumbing to verticillium wilt disease.

Supplied as an established young tree in approx three-litre containers at around a metre tall total height.

Enjoy your Smoke Tree!

Feeding Plants in Your Micro Climate

A plant given sufficient light, water and carbon dioxide will survive, but for it to thrive it also needs nutrients; much like humans need a range of vitamins and minerals, which ensure the various and complex physiological processes work effectively. For house plants, the gardener must provide these nutrients, but fortunately, this is a relatively simple task. Follow this guide to feeding small indoor plants.

The Big Three

The significant three nutrients a plant needs are nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, represented on a bottle of fertiliser by the letters N, P and K, respectively (the Latin, scientific name for potassium is kalium).

Nitrogen is necessary for the production of cells and for the growth of leaves and shoots (yellowing leaves are a classic sign of nitrogen deficiency).

Phosphorus is a requirement for healthy root growth.

Potassium ensures good flower and fruit production.

On top of these, there are a range of micronutrients, such as magnesium, boron and iron, which are necessary in tiny quantities but play essential roles in cell production and photosynthesis.

When to Fertilise

Plants bought from a garden centre or nursery will be in compost that has all the necessary fertiliser mixed into it. Still, the plant will exhaust this supply after around six months. After that, it will be required to apply fertiliser to maintain adequate nutrient levels. The myriad options available can be confusing, but the deciding factor is how long the fertiliser takes to release its nutrients.

The fastest-acting are the liquid fertilisers because the nutrients can most easily be taken up by the plant. These can be applied as a spray over the foliage or, more commonly and efficiently, as a concentrate that is then diluted and watered on. Liquid fertilisers need to be applied regularly throughout the growing season, according to the instructions on the packet.

Slower or (more accurately) controlled-release fertilisers come as granules or small composite plugs of beads that are mixed with the soil surface or pushed into the pot, respectively. They are designed to break down over weeks or months (again, check the packet for dosing instructions and longevity), releasing the nutrients inside as they go. However, the plugs do not always break down effectively, especially in soils that are kept on the dry side (such as with arid plants).

In general, fertilising is only necessary in the growing season, but specifics are listed with each plant in my Plant Files section.

Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree

If you want an easy to care for indoor plant, but something unusual which is sure to be a talking point, why not consider a Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree? This is actually one of the rarest house plants in the world, and is stunning to look at! 

Micro Climate Fig Tree

Buy your own Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree here!

You can actually play a part in conserving this plant for the future and have the pleasure of owning something very few people have seen. There is apparently only one of these plants still growing in the wild, with others being destroyed by hurricanes. 

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Keep Plants Watered While Away

Ideally, a friend or neighbour can step in to water and feed your plants if necessary. It is perhaps a good idea to first offer them a run-through, or leave instructions by each pot. However, what if nobody is available to help? Various measures can be taken to care for the plants left behind when you go away. Here is a guide on how to keep your plants alive whilst on holiday.

Landscaping Ideas

Pre-Departure Checks

Always check plants thoroughly for pest and diseases in the week leading up to the holiday, and deal with them then, otherwise they will enjoy the holiday as well. Water and feed the plants thoroughly before you leave.

Keep Plants Alive

Move Their Pots

Moving plants away from windows means that they will be out of direct sunlight (which dries them out) in the summer, and safe from cold draughts in the winter. In the summer, move the plants to the coolest room, and in winter to the warmest (assuming the heating will be turned off). Fridges and freezers give off heat, and in the absence of central heating, it can be a good idea if you go away in winter to put plants on top of these appliances.

Keep Plants Alive

Watering Systems

While dormant in winter, many houseplants will tolerate a few days without water, providing they are given a thorough watering before you depart for a holiday. However, in the summer, many plants will need constant access to water.

Plants take up water through their roots, and in doing so draw it through the soil. Capillary matting is a means of extending the reach of the roots into a well of water collected in, for example, a bath, sink, large bowl or deep roasting tin. As the soil in the pot becomes dry, the water is drawn up from the well through the matting and into the pot.

One option is to place the pot directly onto the matting and have it dangle over the side into the well. For instance, place a washing-up bowl full of water in the sink with the plants on the matting on the draining board above. This works best with plastic pots; for terracotta pots, push the matting up into the drainage hole to ensure a better connection.

Keep Plants Alive

Alternatively, push a strip of the matting into the compost at the top of the pot. This will act as a wick, drawing up moisture from an individual well, and would be a good option for larger or more delicate plants that you cannot move easily.

Raising Humidity

Grouping plants together will help reduce water loss from the plants. All plants give off water through transpiration; evaporation of water through the stomata (pores) in the leaves. The drier the air, the faster the water loss. Grouping plants together means the surrounding air becomes more humid than if you place them individually; hence, the evaporation gradient is flatter, and the water loss slows down. For short absences, tie a clear plastic bag around the whole plant and pot, using canes which you insert into the container to keep the bag from touching the leaves.

The Venus Fly Trap

Here is one plant you definitely want to keep alive, but luckily, it can find it’s own food! The Venus Fly Trap is a fascinating specimen, that is genuinely predatory, and actually captures and eats insects! Not one for the fainthearted, but kids will love to watch the jaws snapping when prey triggers them. The plant prefers a sunny spot and is relatively easy to look after. How it works is impressive, as it releases a scent similar to fruit and flowers, and has an intense red colour to fool the insects into thinking it’s a real flower.

Venus Fly Trap

The traps of this fascinating plant are at the ends of the leaves, with special hair-like sensors which cause the trap to trigger when the prey touches it two or three times in quick succession. This prevents accidental triggering by rain or debris falling in. The traps are also smart enough not to close on really tiny insects which would waste valuable energy for very little return. Once the jaws have closed, there is no escape.

The struggling insect stimulates the trap to close further, immobilising it. The leaf produces digestive acids which kill, then dissolve the body and absorb the valuable nutrients.

Once closed, traps take five to 12 days to reopen after the prey has been digested and will only work a couple of times before they become unusable. Do not be tempted to close them yourself as this will weaken the plant.

Click here to order your very own Venus Fly Trap!

Spring and Summer Care

  • The plant should be watered from below during the growing season. The easiest way is to permanently stand the pot in a saucer which is filled with rainwater to 2.5cm (1in) deep.
  • Don’t be tempted to feed plants yourself, they’ll catch all that they need themselves. If you must, just leave them outside for a few days in the summer to ‘catch up’.
  • The Venus Fly Trap may flower, but it is best to cut these off as this will weaken the plant and result in fewer, smaller traps.
  • Never apply fertiliser to the plants.

Autumn and Winter Care

  • From September onwards, you will notice some of the leaves begin to die off, and this is perfectly normal and nothing to worry about as the plant enters its winter dormancy.
  • Watering at this time can be reduced so that plants are kept just damp. All you need to do is let the water tray empty before filling it up again, to about 1cm deep.
  • Any dead foliage can be cut off.
  • Plants need a cold winter rest. If you are growing your plant indoors, move it to a cooler position such as an unheated greenhouse, porch or unused and unheated room.
  • The secret of success is always rainwater, never tap water, and allow winter rest.

I hope you enjoyed this guide on how to keep your plants alive whilst on holiday.

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Indoor Plant Disease Identification

Diseased Plant

House plant diseases tend to be fungal rather than bacterial or viral. The most likely are here in this guide to indoor plant disease identification. If the symptoms don’t match, check the further resources section for where to find more information.

Landscaping Ideas

A Healthy Environment

As with preventing pests, infection is much less likely on healthy plants, so look after them well. Good housekeeping is also essential to avoid cultivating an atmosphere in which disease could take hold. Also to prevent spreading any existing disease. Keep plants tidy, removing dead leaves and other detritus from around the base of them. Make sure tools and equipment, including the pots themselves, are clean, by washing with soap or other detergent and hot water. If the plants’ compost develops mould on its surface, repot it, washing off the roots entirely before replanting in fresh compost.

Fungicidal sprays are available to treat some diseases but reserve them for only when they are necessary. Select a treatment which is specific for the condition you have identified and always read the label before choosing a product. Make sure that you follow all the manufacturer’s instructions, including maximum dose, spray and harvest intervals.


Also known as grey mould and, to wine-makers, noble rot. Spores are ever-present in the air, everywhere, and readily infect dead or weak tissue, before spreading to the rest of the plant.

Signs of damage: Fluffy grey moulds developing quickly on leaves and stems, or spots on petals.

Control: Prevent infection with good air circulation and by promptly removing dead or damaged tissue with neat cuts to minimise open wounds. Remove and dispose of infected tissue, trying to contain it in the process, to avoid spreading more clouds of spores.


Both powdery and downy mildews are fungal diseases which cause white mould on leaf surfaces.

Signs of damage: Patches of white mould; powdery on the upper side, downy on the underside with corresponding yellow patches above. Leaves yellow and die; inhibition of growth is evident.

Downy Mildews

Downy mildews invade plant cells, and only the spore-bearing structures show on the leaf surface as a white or grey fuzz. Early stages of fungal attack can be seen as yellowish blotching on the lower leaf surfaces. These blemishes are followed by a bloom of white or greyish-white spores, and if left untreated, the plants may be severely crippled.

Powdery Mildews

Plants suffering from these diseases are easily recognised, as their leaves, stems, flowers or fruit may be covered with a white-grey powdery coating. The fungus causing the disease may be specific to the host plant; for example, rose mildew will not affect any other type of plant, or it may have a broad host range attacking many varieties of herbaceous plants. The disease is superficial, but if it is not combatted, it may result in a loss of leaves.

Control: powdery mildew often infects plants with dry roots and wet leaves, so ensure proper air circulation and correct watering. Downy mildew is also characteristic of damp environments and usually affects young plants. Remove affected parts as soon as they are seen and improve the atmosphere around the plant.


These tend to be brought in via the plant or occasionally through infected pests or tools.

Signs of damage: The whole plant will become stunted or distorted, with yellow spots or streaks on the leaves.

Control: It’s impossible to treat a virus, so the plant must be disposed of, and all tools and equipment thoroughly cleaned afterwards to avoid the infection spreading to other plants.

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Mindfulness with Plants


Mindfulness is the practice of training the mind to focus on being aware of one’s surroundings to quieten the rest of the chatter in the brain. It can be as simple as concentrating on breathing, but can also involve bringing attention to an object or repetitive activity.


As plants and gardening are already well known to bring a sense of peace and calm, combining the two is a logical choice, effortless to do when using house plants, leading to a happy mind.


The aim is to have something to entirely focus the attention and senses on, for five to 10 minutes a day. It is better to use a single plant, rather than a collection, as in this way concentration can be more readily focussed. It could be a high-maintenance orchid, or a similar tropical plant, which needs time spent on it; for example, misting and cleaning the leaves every day. Alternatively, it could be a plant that has elements that are particularly stimulating to the senses, such as fragrant flowers or tactile leaves, or one that is merely captivating to look at.

How to be Mindful

If carrying out maintenance, concentrate entirely on the sensations; for example, the action of squeezing the misting bottle handle, perhaps the feel of water falling on your hand and the look of the water as it falls through the light and onto the plant. If sitting in contemplation of a plant, focus all your attention on it and really look, smell or feel the plant, appreciating every nuance.

It is perfectly natural for your attention to wander during these exercises, but bringing it back to the task at hand is all part of training the mind to focus.


What to Plant for Mindfulness

Tactile plants, such as an air plant (Tillandsia argentea), Delta maidenhair fern (Adiantum raddianum), Boston fern (Nephrolepis exaltata) and African violet (Saintpaulia).

Fragrant plants, such as lemon grass (Cymbopogon citratus), lemon verbena (Aloysia citrodora), citrus trees (Citrus), jasmine (Jasminum), lilies (Lilium) and Pelargonium.

Visually interesting and detailed plants, such as auriculas (Primula auricula), Cape primrose (Streptocarpus), cacti, bromeliads (Nidularium, Neoregelia), Solenostemon and Fittonia.

Delta Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum raddianum)

This is one of the most delicate ferns, with black stems bearing tiny leaflets that tremble in the slightest breeze. A slightly scented-leaved version is also available. Water regularly and feed with a diluted fertiliser in spring and summer. Prune only to remove dead fronds.

Bird’s Nest Fern (Asplenium nidus)

The bird’s nest fern is a very tolerant plant, making it an ideal beginner’s house plant. The large flat, glossy leaves are mid-green and have an attractive black midrib and crinkled edges. Pot using a mix of 75/25 multipurpose compost and grit, and water as required. Clean the leaves regularly to keep them clean and shiny. Prune only to cut out dead leaves to the base; brown edges can also be trimmed.

Citrus Trees (Citrus)

Lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruits and more, all citrus trees can be grown in a large pot indoors, though they will appreciate being outside in the summer, if possible. Meyer’s lemon and Nagami kumquat are good compact trees. Water freely in summer, sparingly in winter. Feed in summer. Misting can help pollination. Prune only to pinch out shoots (to encourage bushy growth) and to remove dead and side-shoots borne on and at the base of the stem.

Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum walisii)

The peace lily forms clumps of dark-green ovate leaves and white flowers (spathes). All parts of the plant are extremely toxic. Water regularly in summer, sparingly in winter. Feed monthly in summer. Prune only to remove dead leaves and flowers. It will benefit from an occasional misting.


Sometimes mistakenly referred to as “geraniums”, these fall into two groups, both suitable as house plants. One is grown primarily for flowers (commonly red or white, though their bi-colour leaves are also attractive), the other for their scented leaves (bright and crinkled leaves, scented with anything from rose, lemon and apples to cloves and cinnamon). On the latter, the leaves and summer flowers (pink or white tones) are smaller but can be used in the kitchen. Water and feed regularly in summer, sparingly in winter. Cut back to a short, open framework each spring.

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Cape Primrose (Streptocarpus)

This plant has a primrose-like flower borne on delicate stems above long, slightly furry, dark-green leaves. Varieties available can include pastel-pink, blue or purple flowers (see the specialist nurseries listed on this site for the best choice). Best watered from a saucer to avoid rotting leaves, but do not allow to stand wet. Water regularly in summer, sparingly in winter. Feed monthly in summer. Prune only to remove dead leaves and trim flower spikes back to the base.

Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera)

A typical house plant or gift at Christmas time (hence the name), when generally it is in flower (varieties of red, pink and white). Despite the name, it hails from the rainforest and needs a partially shaded, humid position.

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Coleus (Solenostemon)

Perennial plants, often treated as annuals, though can be over-wintered. Their serrated leaves come in a wide range of beautiful colours and patterns; it is possible to buy seed mixes that give a good spread of colours within one packet. Protect from direct sun on hot summer days, and mist frequently to maintain high humidity. Pinch out growing shoots of young plants to encourage bushy growth. Seed can be sown in spring, or over-wintered plants can be cut back to a short framework in spring.

Mosaic Plant (Fittonia verschaffelti)

This is a creeping, ground-cover plant noted for the coloured veins (usually white or pale pink) on its leaves. It is a good candidate for terrariums. Water regularly in summer, sparingly in winter. Feed in the summer. Prune only to remove dead stems.

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Do you have a particular house plant to help create mindfulness? Which plant do you think inspires calm and peaceful thoughts? Who would have known that cleaning a plant’s leaves can benefit your own well-being?

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