Houseplant Care Tips

Various Houseplant Care Tips Including Watering and Lighting Requirements.

Houseplant Care Tips

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Polka Dot (Freckle Face) Plant Care

Common Name: Polka Dot Plant, Freckle Face
Scientific Name: Hypoestes phyllostachya
Lighting: Moderate to Low
Watering: Moderate

Polka Dot plants are really neat little houseplants. Their red, pink and white dotted foliage add character to any space. Plus they are a small, delicate looking houseplant. Polka Dot (Freckle Face) plants can also be placed in your outside garden as an annual. The distinct colors make a great contrast next to other outdoor plants.

The Polka Dot plant requires moderate light. Keeping the plant within 2 feet of a window is perfect as long as it doesn't receive much more than 5 hours of direct sunlight. Correct lighting will help keep the plant maintaining its spots.

For this houseplant, you should keep the soil moist at all times, however do not over water the plants so that the soil becomes soggy. Make sure you do not allow the soil to dry out in-between watering. If the foliage begins to wilt, you are probably under watering the plant. After watering, the houseplant will usually spark back up, similar to what a Peace Lily will do, however do not make a practice of waiting until it starts to drop before watering. If you continually under water the plant, overtime it will drop the lower leaves and continue dropping. This houseplant also prefers higher humidity levels, so a daily misting will provide additional results.

Polka Dot plants are very easy to start from seed. You can then move them to their own pots. You can also easily take cuttings from the plant. Put them in water to root and now you have even more Polka Dot plants. Giving your Polka Dot plant a little haircut as I call them, will not harm the plant, it will actually help it to retain its compact shape and become more full and lush.

As a little extra tip, if your pinch out the new growth, most of the time this will also encourage the plant to be more compact and full.

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Thursday, February 08, 2007

Christmas Cactus Plant Care

Common Name: Christmas Cactus, Thanksgiving Cactus, Holiday Cactus
Scientific Name: Schlumbergera bridgesii
Lighting: Moderate to Bright
Water: Low to Moderate

Christmas Cactus

Christmas Cactus plants are characterized by flat green foliage, which blooms periodically. Blooms are tubular in shape and can be in shades of reds, pinks, whites and yellows. These houseplants are extremely easy to care for. The trick comes in getting them to bloom.

Christmas Cactus prefer high amounts of indirect sunlight. Too much direct sunlight can burn the plant. These plants will grow in lower light levels; however will do much better in a more lighted location. A plant that receives its preferred light level will usually have more flowers during its blooming period. As with all houseplants, be sure to keep away from drafts, heating / cooling sources.

Even though its name contains Cactus, a Christmas Cactus is not a true cactus. Allow the soil to dry out in-between watering however do not let it dry completely. If your plant is not looking up to par, it is probably due to incorrect watering. I water mine thoroughly once every two weeks, however this will vary depending on your location of the plant.

To get your Christmas Cactus to bloom depends with the amount of sunlight it receives and temperatures. Temperature is a much harder variable to control. Most sources I've read have said you need a temperature range of 55 to 60 degrees for 4 to 6 weeks. However, temperature is something I don't have much control over so I use the following more common method to get my Christmas Cactus to bloom. Place your Christmas Cactus in complete darkness until buds develop. I use my spare room closet because no one is opening and closing it. If you are looking to have a beautiful bloomed plant by the holiday season, place your plant in darkness in mid to late October.

One pest that is common in this plant are mealy bugs. They are attracted to the sap of these cacti and will suck the sap. If you see the appearance of white bugs on your plant, try spraying with a soapy dishwater mixture twice a day. If within a week the bugs still remain, go to your local garden center to find the right spray to kill them.

Overall, this is a good choice for beginners or those without a great deal of time. View my list of easy to grow houseplants for other plant choices.

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