The Green Thumb: Houseplants cheer housebound gardeners
by Sue Davis / For the Tracy Press
Nov 30, 2012 | 2772 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
There’s not much going on in my garden during the winter, so I’m using houseplants to brighten my days.

Houseplants are not something that worked well for me in the past, so I did a little research that might be helpful for you, too, if you are looking to add a houseplant or two to your home.

Understanding the specifics of what a houseplant needs will help you select the right plant for the right location. Most can be grouped into three levels of light requirement.

Low light is bright shade, well away from windows and on an interior wall or in a corner with no direct sun.

Medium light means some direct morning sunlight from a northeast- or northwest-facing window that provides light most of the day.

High or bright light refers to areas with a western or southern exposure.

Generally, a low-light plant will thrive in both low and medium light. A plant with a high light requirement can live in either high or medium light. However, low-light plants will not thrive in a high-light area, and vice versa.

Select full, bushy plants with sweet, fresh-smelling soil.

Gently remove the plant from the pot in which you bought it to inspect the root ball. The plant will need to be re-potted right away if the root ball is a mass of roots with very little soil. Otherwise, just set the plant inside a container that complements your home decor.

Get in the habit of checking your plants every five days or so for water. A well-watered plant looks healthy with firm leaves. Plants that are in need of water lose their sheen and may be a little limp.

Adding a little liquid fertilizer once a month keeps your plants happy.

Some tough, carefree houseplants you might want to start with are devil’s ivy (Pothos, low light), corn plant (Dracena, low to medium light), spider plant (Chlorophytum, medium light) and china doll (Radermachera sinica, medium to bright light).

• The Green Thumb is a column by Tracy’s master gardeners. University of California certified master gardeners are available to answer gardening questions from 9 a.m. to noon Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 953-6112 or mgsanjoaquin@ucdavis.edu.
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