three common houseplant myths
Living in the Lehigh Valley, a suburban region an hour north of Philadelphia, we experience very cold weather and drawn out winters. In fact, we just had a snowstorm two weeks ago at the end of March! Being indoors has led many of us to become expert (or not so expert) indoor plantkeepers. Whether our plants have taken residence in the office or in the home, we want greenery and we want it live, fresh, and within arm's reach. Our soul craves it and we can't get enough. But why do some of our plants fail to make it? For a start, let's debunk some myths.
- Bright Light - We tend to pick the brightest spot in our space to put our indoor plants, which is great for a select few, but for the majority of indoor houseplants the preference is medium to low light. Many common indoor houseplants are comfortable in lower light conditions, like the snake plant (below). The majority of indoor plants are shade-lovers that naturally live in the understory of tropical forests beneath large trees where shade abounds and light is limited. This is great news for the Lehigh Valley where our sunlight is somewhat moderate compared to southern states like Arizona and Florida.
- Big Planter Pots - Your plants like to be cozy and there is nothing more irritating to a plant's root system than putting them into a planter twice their diameter even if it is tightly packed with soil. Plant root systems will spend all of their energy filling up the pot with more roots which means less energy to make foliage and flowers. If you fall in love with an extra large planter, buy it! But be prepared to spend some money purchasing a plant large enough to naturally fill the container's diameter and use a smaller drop-in plant liner with the same diameter so you aren't filling the entire container up with soil. Otherwise, your container will be very heavy, difficult to move, and again the roots will expend energy filling the expanse of dirt below it. A good practice is to not go more than 1-2 inches wider than the plant liner your houseplant came in.
- Yellow Leaves - If your plant leaves have yellowed, it is NOT a lost cause nor does it mean death. Consider yellow leaves to be an "indicator" that your plant is in need of a change. Either it may need some water or a change in light. Be sure that your green friend is receiving enough water, but not too much water. A good rule of thumb: it is always better to underwater, than to overwater.
What are some plant myths you've debunked?