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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.

Photosynthesis

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

Orchids

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.

Cymbidium

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.

Vanda

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.

Watering

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

Feeding

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.

Lighting

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

Temperature

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.

Humidity

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

Repotting

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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Indoor Hanging Basket Plants

Hanging Garden Pots

Bathrooms, with their warm, humid atmosphere, make an ideal place to keep a houseplant. It will help to remove some of the moisture in the air. Subsequently, less frequent watering is necessary; a win-win situation! However, there can often be a smaller surface and floor space. The solution is to hang the plants from the walls or ceiling.

Choosing a Container

The 1970s trend for macrame (knotted string) potholders has recently come back into fashion. Still, there are also plenty of other more minimalist designs of hanging pots available. They can all attach to walls or ceilings. Outdoor hanging baskets, when lined sufficiently, are an inexpensive option that can hold several specimens in one container.

 

Macrame Hanging Garden

What to Plant

Refer to my Plant Files for examples of plants that will thrive in a bathroom’s microclimate – primarily all those that originate from jungle habitats. Avoid any spiky or scratchy plants, for obvious reasons!

Planting

As with standing pots, hanging containers can either receive the plant directly or house a plant that’s in a plastic pot. Take into account the weight of the plant and compost when wet, and avoid using heavy pots. Likewise, make sure that the wires or string and wall or ceiling fittings are up to the job and can take the strain.

Repetition and symmetry always look good, so consider having two identical planters and plants, such as spider plants (Chlorophytum comosum) hanging either side of a window.

A Natural Screen

Use several long trailing plants, such as species of ivy (Hedera) or hearts on a string (Ceropegia woodii), suspended in a line at the same height to create a screen, perhaps in place of a window blind.

A Hanging Forest

Suspend a collection of plants from the ceiling. Hang them close together but at different heights, considering the heights and trailing habits of each plant, to display them to their best advantage.

Hedera helix Goldchild

This colourful evergreen climber will light up a partially shaded corner, even on dull winter days. Olive green, lobed leaves sport broad gold margins which reflect the light beautifully. Hedera helix ‘Goldchild’ is an attractive self-clinging climber, scaling walls and fences without the need for extra support. Perfect for creating a low maintenance, evergreen background for other shrubs and perennials. Height and spread: 3m (118″).

Click here to buy your very own gorgeous Goldchild! 

 

Hanging Plants Goldchild

Grow ivy in any moist, well-drained garden soil in a sheltered position, in full sun or partial shade. Ivy will perform exceptionally well on alkaline soils, although plants are also tolerant of a wide range of different soil conditions.

Prune your ivy plants to fit the space available. Plants can be trimmed at any time, although spring is the best for renovation pruning before the new growth starts. Caution; irritant to skin and eyes, harmful if eaten.

Maintenance

It is usually easier to leave a hanging plant where it is for watering, but if taking it down, stand the pot on an upturned bucket or put it on the edge of a work surface so that the trailing stems are not broken by being pushed horizontally.

Water thoroughly as usual, but pour on very slowly with plenty of pauses, to allow the water to seep in and avoid potential overflow onto the floor.

Grow Nine-Piece Zinc Planter Set

This 9-piece set of zinc planters is perfect for fulfilling all of your planting needs.

It is suitable for a range of different uses, from planting flowers, herbs and small plants to storage or as a desktop stationery holder.

Click here to buy your own zinc planter set!

 

Zinc Pots Set

Suitable for indoor or outdoor use, these planters have been designed without drainage holes so that they don’t leak water.

These durable planters are made from galvanised zinc for both durability and strength.

Kokedama and String Gardens

The Japanese art of kokedama (literally meaning “Moss ball”) involves no pots at all. Instead, plants grow from a ball of clay and moss formed around the roots, which can then be placed on a surface or suspended from the ceiling. This technique looks most effective when used on groups of the same plant – a display style called a “string garden”.

What to Plant

Almost any plant can be planted in a kokedama, but some work better than others. For temporary, easy-to-create displays, use flowering bulbs such as snowdrops and species of Muscari. More permanent plantings could be made from most perennials (although avoid those with large, leaves that will wilt quickly) and traditional houseplants. Many string Gardens are made using tree seedlings, which are ideal, as they are slow-growing.

Kokedama from Bulbs

Temporary plantings of bulbs (bare of any soil) need only be wrapped in a good-sized ball of moss and string, then misted thoroughly before hanging.

Method

Take the plant out of its pot and carefully put to one side. Fill the pot with two-thirds peat moss and one-third akadama (a specialist bonsai soil, available online).

Then, tip the mixture into a bowl and mix thoroughly with enough water to stick it together.

Crumble away the potting compost from the plant’s roots, then mould the kokedama mix around the roots, to form a ball.

Wrap the ball tightly in sphagnum moss (available in bags from garden centres and online) so that none of the soil mix is visible.

Use string to wrap the whole thing in a crisscross fashion. If the plant is to be hung up, add another long loop of string, carefully secured to the plant, so that the plant’s stem is at the top of the ball when suspended.

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Maintenance

Check if a kokedama plant needs water by weighing it – the lighter it feels, the less water it contains. To water, take the plant down and submerge in a bucket of water for an hour, remove and let it finish dripping (hang it over the bath or sink) before returning it to its usual spot. A half measure of liquid fertiliser can be added to the water in spring and summer.

Supports and Training

Growing a climbing plant is a great way to fill your house with foliage without taking up a lot of floor space, as it grows from a single pot. They can be trained over archways, around windows, up a stairwell or around a conservatory. Provided they get the light and conditions they need, they can adapt to most situations. If you are looking for advice on the best tall indoor house plants, there are some suggestions below.

Training a Climbing Plant

It is always easier to put in the support system for a climber before the plant reaches the point at which it will need it, rather than trying to fiddle around supporting it after it has started to grow. The easiest way to create a training system is to use strong wires, stretched taught between eyelet screws and attached to a wall, staircase or the wooden trim of a conservatory.

If the plant is naturally twining, it will wind itself around the wire, and little intervention will be needed other than to tuck in a wayward stem here and there. Others will need regular tying in. How often you will need to do so depends on the plant, but, in general, ties should be placed at intervals so that the stem is not bowing significantly below the wire.

Use soft horticultural twine to tie in the stems using a figure-of-eight tie. Loop the twine around the stem, cross over the ends and loop around the wire, always tying off against the wire rather than the stem. Avoid tying the twine too tight; you should allow a little space for the stem to grow in thickness. Check ties regularly and replace them as necessary.

Once a climbing plant reaches the end of the support system (eg it has grown all the way over an archway or doorway), the growing tips will need regular pruning to stop it growing any further.

 

Indoor Trellis

Less vigorous climbers can also be trained over a trellis, obelisk or other wire structure that is secured within their pot. Try wiring two hanging baskets together and placing them in the top of a large pot. Train the plant (ivy, perhaps) around the structure to create a dome shape.

Supports for Tall Plants

Many tall palms and other plants will happily grow up without the need for supports, but others will need something to lean on. A bamboo cane is the cheapest and easiest option, and some plants will come supplied with a mossy pole in the pot (such as Monstera deliciosa, Swiss cheese plant), into which the plant can root and thereby pull itself up.

Alternatively, a small metal or wooden obelisk could be put in the pot for the plant to grow up and through.

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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.

Draughts

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

Windowsills

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.

Phototropism

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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Ideas 4 Landscaping Scam?

Ideas4Landscaping

Ideas4Landscaping is a comprehensive collection of over 7200 landscaping designs, ideas and themes plus over 300 pages of gardening landscape guides. I have just bought the entire package, and this is my honest review of the product. Therefore, I will be covering what I like and dislike.

What is Ideas4Landscaping?

The product offers step by step blueprints and pictures of over 7250 different ideas for landscaping designs. The creator, Helen Whitfield, provides a simple, efficient and user-friendly online gallery for landscaping inspiration to design your dream landscape. Therefore, inside this massive database, you will find thousands of landscaping pictures in over 60 categories consisting of:

  • Backyard landscaping
  • Front yards
  • Garden landscaping
  • Patios
  • Decks
  • Walkways
  • Lawns

This massive collection of photos, ideas, and simple step-by-step details are designed to help homeowners make some progress with their plan to liven up their home with the perfect landscaping.

Landscaping Ideas

The Pros

Below are some of the points I was really impressed with, so read on.

  • A Huge Range of Designs to Choose From

This is a complete landscaping resource with detailed diagrams, complete with colour pictures and examples of many types of landscaping designs. It has everything you will need to get started in creating the perfect outdoor living experience for you and your family. It includes ideas for gardens, pools, decks, pathways, sheds, gazebos, hedges, driveways, waterfalls, ponds, patios and walkways.

There are multiple designs available for each type of landscape, so you have some variety to choose from.

  • Suitable for Beginners or Professionals

All the designs are ideal for beginners or professionals. I am somewhat new to landscaping, but I found most of the projects can be completed in one weekend.

  • Great Bonuses Included

The bonuses you get with this product are great. The bonus videos on landscaping are excellent for beginners who want an easy to follow video guide. There are also some great value books added in, including an organic vegetable farming guide which I have found very useful.

Book on Organic Vegetables

  • Full-Colour Pictures

I appreciated the number of full-colour pictures and diagrams which are included. I am a very visual person, so it is easier for me to follow a picture or diagram instead of reading paragraphs.

  • Money Back Policy

The 60-day money-back guarantee is always appreciated. I like seeing a merchant who stands behind their product 100%. It puts the consumer at ease, knowing that they are not going to lose a penny if they choose not to use the system.

Landscaping designs

What I Did Not Like

It is cool that I get instant download access but it also takes away the joy of a printed collection. The designs are all in a downloadable online gallery, which is excellent if your primary purpose is to stop using paper and save the trees. But it can be quite a hassle if you want to have your design sitting snugly next to you as you create your landscape.

However, you do have the option of printing everything out. That way, you do not have to go online to view it.

Do I Recommend It?

Yes!

Ideas4Landscaping is a great collection anyway you look at it. It is suitable for beginners as well as seasoned landscapers alike. It offers excellent value for money, considering the one-time price you pay for such an extensive system.

Ideas4Landscaping gets two thumbs up from me!

Please note: I have just been told, Ideas4Landscaping is currently running a huge promotion. It usually sells for over $297: Helen has slashed that price down to $47, for now.

I am told the price is going back up within a matter of days. So if you are at all interested, now is the time to buy Ideas4Landscaping. Click on any of the links in my review. Happy landscaping!

Landscaping Ideas

Take a look at my sales page for recommended products at the best price!

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.

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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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