How to Keep Your Indoor Plants Green

CBS) Plants are a popular and inexpensive way to spruce up any living space, but they do require some care and maintenance.

“Early Show” contributor Ahmed Hassan, a landscape technician and host of DIY Network’s “Yard Crashers,” shared these tips on the broadcast for keeping your house plants looking healthy and vibrant:

Use Proper Soil

The key to supplying nutrients, air, and water to plants is quality soil. Most house plants require either potting soil or potting compost. As opposed to natural soil, potting compost contains soil conditioners packed with nutrients, the proper aeration, and good drainage. The mixtures are typically a combination of peat, perlite, and vermiculite.

Natural soils typically do not drain well. So don’t go out and scoop up a pile of dirt from the backyard, and dump it into the pot with your plant.

Give Plants Plenty of Water

Watering your plants properly is critical to their survival. So what’s the right way to water a plant?

Saturate the entire soil column. Many people think giving their plant a little water every day or two is the right way to water the plant. That’s wrong! You’re starving your plant. That little bit of water is being absorbed by the soil, never reaching the plant’s roots. Plants can only take loosely held water, so you really need to give it a healthy dose of water every time you feed it.

Remove Excess Water

Another common mistake people make taking water that’s collected in saucers and pour it back into the plant. You may as well just poison your plants! This water has already had one run through the soil, and collected some of the harmful contaminants on its way into the saucer — particularly salt. Salt is a plant’s enemy, and salt burn is a common problem with plants that are improperly cared for.

This moisture at the bottom of the plant can actually take the water out of the plant. That’s why you sometimes see the tips of the leaves turning brown – that’s because the water is literally being sucked out. So instead of letting water sit in a saucer, take a turkey baster and suck it out. This will help minimize the damage this stagnant, salty water can cause.

Use a Proper Pot or Container

Determining what size pot to use is an important factor in the growing of your house plant. You don’t want your pot to be too large or too small. A pot that is too small will restrict the growth of the plant, while an overly large pot can cause your plant to get root disease because of too much moisture present in the soil.

Perhaps the most important feature in pots and containers is their drainage system. Pots can be reused for different plants, but remember to wash them thoroughly to kill any bacteria or disease that might be left over from previous plants.

Also, with large containers, use saturated sphagnum moss (you buy it in dried form) to cover the top of the floor plant’s dirt. This will enhance your plant’s indoor presentation.

© MMX, CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.
February 8, 2010

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