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Houseplants provide space-saving greenery all year long

If you would like a plant that stays green all year long, never needs weeding and doesn’t require much space, try growing a houseplant.

Over the years I have bought many different varieties and had many successes and also some failures.

Some people must have flowering plants and others are happy with foliage. I started out with African violets, but now all but one of my houseplants are tropical foliage. The leaf shapes and colors are interesting enough without flowers.

It is cheaper to buy small plants and divide them as they grow. This requires time and repotting. My oldest houseplant is a dumbcane that has moved with our family through three states and has lived for 30 years.

Some easy houseplants that I have grown are pothos, draceana, dumbcane and parlor palm.

I have found that my plants like the light in the two front rooms of my house that have large windows with southern exposure. I tend to spend a lot of time in these rooms. I get to enjoy my plants while I read and do jigsaw puzzles. We seem to get so little sun in the winter months that I want to maximize the little we get for myself and my plants.

I tend to be like a kid in a candy store when I am in a store selling plants and try to not make a snap decision before deciding to purchase. It is important to read those tags that should be in the pot with the plant. Most tags will tell you what light is required, how to water, fertilize and what temperature your plant will require. We also hope that the tag will include the name of the plant so that we can do some research on our own.

Take the time to check the plant before purchase for pests and general health. When you get home, place the new plant in a separate room for a week of quarantine. If your new plant has any pests or diseases, you will spot them and not infest your existing houseplants.

When transporting a new plant home, do not leave it in a hot or cold car. Just like when bringing those poinsettias home, make sure that you cover your new plant with a plastic sleeve during transport. In a pinch, a plastic grocery bag can be used. Just remember to remove the bag as soon as you get inside your home.

Check the bottom of the pot to make sure there is a drainage hole. If not, repot using a pot with a hole in the bottom so that your plant can drain properly.

The best time to repot is spring since houseplants slow in growth over the winter. Choose a pot that is only 1 to 1.5 inches bigger in diameter than the existing pot.

Houseplants don’t get watered on a schedule. The best indicator that your plant needs a drink is your finger. Stick your index finger into the soil to see if it is dry. Follow watering instructions that came with your plant on that all-important tag.

Since many people are working from home or spending more time at home during the pandemic, it is a perfect time to try a houseplant. Most of all, enjoy the houseplants that you have during these cold winter months.

For more information on growing houseplants, go to http://go.osu.edu/houseplants.

Eister is an Ohio State University Mahoning County Extension Master Gardener volunteer.

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