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Looking after potted flowers and plants

There are 3 key aspects to maintain that plants need in order for them to survive and grow:

  • Light
    If you have warm and sunny rooms, then cacti are ideal. If you have darker shady rooms, then ferns or ivy would be the best.
  • Temperature
    Do not put the plants in strong heat or chilly drafts. Some houseplants prefer to be outside in the summer, but ensure all the frosts are over first.
  • Water
    If you tend to over water plants, then azaleas would be ideal. If you are someone who keeps forgetting to water your plants, then bromeliads (tropical American flowers, including the pineapple) are the best option for you. Most plants do prefer to dry out a bit in between watering. If there are cyclamen or succulents in your pot, make sure you water below the crown (the leaves), so the plant won't rot. The best place to place the water is in a dish in which the plant is standing, allowing the roots to absorb the water.

    Plants absorb water through their leaves, so spray them with a water spray about once a week (some plants like high humidity, so spray these every day). This is especially important if you have central heating on.

potted flowers

If you have plants with wide glossy leaves, it is a good idea to wipe them every now and then with a damp cloth to remove any dust, as the plants breathe through their leaves.

If your plants keep dying on you because they are either too hot, or you kept forgetting to water them, then some plants that would be a good option for you include cacti, kalanchoe, aloe vera, bromeliads and mother-in-law's tongue. If you have a dark, cool room, then try the peace lily, aspidistra, dragon tree and ivy. If you over water your plants, then ideally you should purchase arum, papyrus, ferns and azaleas.

You must also feed your plants on a regular basis, as they need energy to grow and flower. Please note that flowering and foliage plants require different types of plant food. You don't have to start feeding new plants for 6 weeks, as the nutrients are provided by the compost. Also, some flowering plants are dormant for a while, usually after a growing period, and will therefore need less watering and feeding.

Ever heard people say you should talk to your plants? Well, this helps the plant, especially if you talk to them close up, as you then breathe out carbon dioxide over them, which they need to survive. Also, if you are close up, you will notice any dead flowers or leaves, or any problems with the plant. The plants return the favour by making it easier for us to breathe with the gases they expel.

When choosing houseplants, choose the ones with lush, healthy leaves and new growth. Buy flowering plants when the buds are just opening, and remove dead flower heads to encourage new flowers to open.