indoor plants 1
indoor plants are not looking too healthy. Can you give me some
general tips on how to look after them and how to get rid of bugs?
plants have tough lives. Most come originally from lush jungles
or rainforests where they´re used to plenty of humidity and
regular washing by rain showers. Contrast this with what the poor
things will encounter inside the average house. Here it´s
relatively dark and dusty, and often the plants are subjected to
the unreliable care given by indifferent or very inexperienced plant
owners. It´s no wonder so many indoor plants languish and
Here are some commonsense
rules for revitalising your indoor plants:
New potting mix
The first thing to do
is to check the potting mix. If a plant has been in the same mix
for more than two years, it´s probably time the mix was freshened
up. Either take the plant out and repot it into fresh mix in the
same pot, or pot on to a slightly larger size. Choose a good quality
potting mix; Yates Macroblend is a top quality multi-purpose mix
for indoors or out.
Get rid of pests and
Lots of pests and diseases
just love indoor conditions. Keep a careful watch on houseplants
so that insects and diseases don´t get the chance to cause
too many problems.
Mealy bugs are sucking
insects that develop a white, fluffy coating. They´re most
often found in the crevices where leaves join the main stem, but
they can also take shelter on the root systems of plants. Scales
look a bit like plastic eggs stuck on the leaves, main veins and
leaf stems. Each 'egg' disguises a sap-sucking pest. Both scales
and mealy bug can be controlled with low-toxic Confidor available
in a convenient to use aerosol.
Fungus gnats are tiny
little flies that emerge from the potting mix and fly around the
room. Although the flies don´t damage plants, they are annoying
and their larvae can feed on roots and soft plant material. One
simple way to get rid of fungus gnats is to reduce watering
fungus gnats flourish in moist conditions and let the potting
mix dry out between waterings. If the problem persists, take the
plant outside into the shade and water through the mix with a pyrethrum
The two most common indoor
plant diseases are grey mould and powdery mildew. Grey mould affects
flowers and soft growth, especially on plants with hairy leaves
and stems. The plant material begins to rot and sprouts soft 'whiskers'
before totally collapsing. There´s no effective cure, but
the problem can usually be brought under control by picking off
the damaged material and avoiding watering over the leaves. Powdery
mildew looks just the way it sounds patches of white powdery
spores appear on the affected leaves. Begonias are particularly
susceptible to this problem. Baycor, which comes in a convenient
spray-can, gives excellent control of powdery mildew.
It´s often said
that more indoor plants die from overwatering than the reverse.
This is probably true, because the potting mix in indoor plants
takes far longer to dry out than it would out of doors. Water plants
well when the top surface dries, and make sure that water doesn´t
sit in a saucer at the bottom. Permanently wet feet very quickly
lead to rotted roots, followed soon afterwards by death!
Indoor plants don´t
need very much fertiliser, so use a specially formulated indoor
plant food such as Nutricote Indoor and Patio or use a half strength
solution of your favourite soluble fertiliser.
by Dr Dan Blanchon from Unitec's Diploma in Sustainable Horticulture and Bachelor
of Resource Management.
with permission from NZOOM Home and Garden content,
from the previous
The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the RNZIH