When selecting plants that will share your home, there are a few things to consider if you want your plants to thrive and be beautiful.
Where the plant will live determines what kind of plants to select from, because each plant varies in it’s growth pattern and rate and each has different needs to do well.
Size of space to fill –
Where do you want to put a plant? Do you want a potted tree in the family room, or a small plant on the kitchen window sill? You might want a trailing plant to set on a mantle, on a tall piece of furniture or on a high ledge, that will cascade down. Maybe a large robust plant to fill a large, empty area of a room. Potted trees are great if you have the room because they don’t have much foliage down low but can fill a taller, empty space or be used for privacy or to divide up a larger room.
If you have a small table that you’d like a plant on, don’t select a plant that is too big or it will quickly outgrow the space. Do a little research to know how big the plant will grow and how fast. If it’s just the right size, but is a slow grower, then it may fit the space for quite a long time.
If you have a large, blank wall, don’t sit a small plant in front of it. It will only emphasize the largeness and blankness of the wall. Choose plants with large growth habits like a corn plant or a ficus tree. There are many to choose from, and if there is enough light, there are many trees and shrubs that will work. I once grew a kumquat tree inside, which, like most citrus, had blossoms and fruit in all stages of ripening on it at the same time for long periods of time. It was sitting under a large skylight in a bathroom and so it received plenty of light and humidity. It’s best to be sure about where you’re putting your tree because trees are much harder to move once they’ve grown large.
Consider the shape of the plant, the growth pattern and how long it takes to reach it’s potential. If you decided on a species of a large plant, it’s best to buy the largest, most mature one you can afford. It will quickly fill the space without having to wait years for it to grow. Typically, houseplants are slower growing than plants grown outside.
How much light will it get? –
Plants need light to survive, and usually they need lots of it to thrive. Some though, can do very well on very little light. If you
want to put a plant in an area that doesn’t get much light, pay close attention to the light requirement of the plants you think of buying.
Inside a home there are varying degrees of light intensity. There can be direct sun, such as in a south facing window, or indirect sun, as in a north facing window (northern hemisphere). Some plants require bright light but wouldn’t be able to tolerate direct sun, while others (especially flowering plants) would thrive on as much direct sun as they can get. Some areas may get bright light but the light is filtered by light curtains.
If natural light is a problem, artificial lights can add to the amount of light available. There are special grow lights with the right spectrum for plants.
Temperature and Humidity –
Generally house plants can tolerate the normal temperatures that we feel comfortable in. Some homes are cooler than others, though and some much warmer. I like a cool house and couldn’t survive in my 85 year old mother’s home (usually about 88′). The night temperatures should be cooler but not drastically. It’s important to avoid putting plants where there might be drafts or drastic temperature changes.
A lot of plants don’t like change. Most plants will go through an adjustment period when moved to a new location, as from the nursery to your home. They may drop leaves or be kind of droopy for a while. Once it gets acclimated and begins to grow, try to avoid change. It is good to turn plants, to keep the growth even, since they usually only receive light on one side.
The humidity can vary depending on where you live and how your home is heated or cooled. Heating in the winter can
drastically reduce the amount of moisture in the air and can cause house plants to dry out much faster. House plants in dryer climates benefit from frequent misting, which also washes away dust and helps to control pests.
It’s important to protect the flooring or furniture underneath your potted plants. Since plants need regular watering, it’s important to have protection. Sitting the plants in plastic plant saucers with side high enough to contain excess water will act as a moisture barrier. Clay saucers can sweat and damage surfaces underneath.
If possible it is even better to create another barrier by lifting the plant off the floor onto either a plant stand or on wooden blocks. This lets air circulate between the surface and the saucer with moisture.
Decorating with plants –
Groups of different sized plants can be grouped together at different heights, on the floor or on a table. A single specimen plant can be featured in a prominent area, on a table or mantle or on a window sill.
Potted plants can be set down inside larger, more decorative pots or baskets. If the pot or basket is much larger, it’s possible to stack other inverted pots inside to bring the potted plant up to the right height. In all cases, it is important to create a protective barrier to protect whatever the plant is sitting on.
Lots or few, your home will be improved with the presence of growing plants. Remember, they help clean the air you breath.