As the temperatures drop and the landscape becomes bleak, gardeners are left with little to do outdoors. Fear not - many interesting and beautiful tropical plants are available to brighten your indoors. From the classic look of African violets to funky ferns, houseplants are a great way to bridge the gap between seasons.
The most important thing to remember when selecting houseplants is to choose plants that will be suited to the light levels and temperatures of your home. Most houseplants require little attention apart from regular watering and feeding, so for the most success, choose houseplants that will fit into your conditions.
A moderate amount of bright, filtered light is best for most plants. Low light levels can lead to a decline in health as insufficient food is produced to replace older leaves as they die, leaving pale stunted plants. On the other hand, too much light can lead to scorching of the foliage with many tropical houseplants.
Although many houseplants require warm rooms, they generally prefer an even temperature. In winter this becomes a problem when central heating creates large fluctuations between day and night temperatures. Avoid placing plants near radiators, in draughts, or on windowsills at night.
Indoor plants more commonly die of over-watering than from drought. Overwatering eventually leads to root death and collapse of the plant. Try to keep your plants moist and avoid letting the compost dry out completely. Water from below allowing the plant to take up water as it is needed, but allow excess to drain away. Brown tips and margins of the leaves often indicate that the compost or atmosphere is too dry. Always use tepid water to prevent temperature shocks to the roots.
Liquid feeds are generally the best for houseplants. Choose one high in potash for flowering pot plants, a more balanced one for foliage plants, and use a special fertilizer for certain groups of plants such as orchids.
After a year or two, plants may need repotting into a larger container to maintain healthy growth. Choose a clean pot one or two sizes larger than the old one, then water the plant before potting and allow it to drain. Repot using a similar type of compost to the old one.