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Got houseplants?

From brightening a room to lifting your mood, considering adding live greenery


House plants are good for you.

According to an report, the coronavirus pandemic drove a surge in houseplant buying, as people stayed put and yearned for fresh hobbies and more natural surroundings indoors.

Incorporating greenery in your home is one way to garden year round, according to George Schick, retail greenhouse manager at Bountiful Acres in Buckingham.

What’s more, thriving, green plants make us feel good by brightening our homes and helping to purify indoor air.

If you’re an indoor plant novice or experienced year-round gardener, consider adding some greenery to lift your spirits during cold and dreary winter days.

Starter indoor plants

Schick recommends newcomers try resilient classics like snake and spider plants.

“They don’t require a lot of care and for those who forget to water, snake plants are a great plant,” he said.

Zeezee, ZZ or Zanzibar plants (same plant, different names) are another low impact, easy plant that’s great for houseplant beginners to try.

“Zeezee plants are simple, low watering and they don’t require a lot of light” making them perfect for just about any location in the home, Schick said.

Cast-iron plant — so called because it’s “pretty hard to kill” is a great beginner plant, according to Schick, as is heart leaf philodendron.

Leveling up — African violets, orchids and begonias

For the intermediate or experienced indoor gardener consider some showy foliage begonia, African violets and Christmas cactus, the last being good for beginners with low re-bloom expectations.

If you want them to rebloom, Schick recommends putting Christmas cactus plants outdoors during the summer months in bright sunny spots.

Bring them back indoors in September to “shock” them into bud and bloom state for the holidays.

“African violets are higher on the scale. They can be fussy with watering,” he said.

Their velvety foliage does not like water, so water plants from the bottom or underneath their leaves.

Orchids can be easy or challenging, depending on the variety. Orchid lists some easy orchids to begin using this intriguing plant.

“With orchids, it depends on the variety,” Schick explained.

Some orchids are super easy to grow, though most appreciate higher humidity, like you’ll have near a kitchen sink or dishwasher. Even a bright window in a bathroom can be a happy place for an orchid, he explained.

Begonias, like traditional wax or big leaf types, can be challenging for beginners.

Rieger begonias are showy “good gift plants” while cane begonias provide showy, intriguing foliage.

“They tend to be an intermediate level plant,” Schick said.

Care tips

Position plants according to their light requirements and make sure each plant is watered according to its needs.

Schick said most people tend to over-water houseplants. Plant type, pot size, location in the home and sun exposure will all impact its water needs.

Check the soil before watering

Fertilize with a diluted strength, one quarter to one half of the strength suggested on plant food labels. Follow label instructions for time between feedings. Schick recommends taking a break from fertilizing over the winter months.

Plant care services

Whether you love the look of houseplants and just can’t find the time to care for them, or need vacation or emergency coverage, Schick said asking those you know about plant care services is the best place to start.

“If they took good care of your friend’s houseplant, they’ll probably take good care of yours, too,” he said.

Schick’s tips include interviewing prospective plant carers for hire and asking how long they’ve been in business. Ask about the types of plants with which they are familiar.

“If you are a collector, make sure there is an awareness of the type of plant and its watering and fertilizing schedules,” he said.

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