Georgia Tech's main campus, with 400 acres and more than 13,000 trees, has a team of landscape professionals maintaining its beauty year-round. Tech Lawn and Garden taps into the knowledge of the lawn and garden experts in Landscape Services, showing how they do what they do and sharing tips that you can use at home.
Taking Care of Houseplants
By Don Read, tree surgeon assistant with Landscape Services in Infrastructure and Sustainability. As a former manager of a greenhouse, Read is experienced in caring for plants.
Houseplants can bring the outside in, help purify the air, and add natural beauty to your home — whether it’s a house or a dorm room. Selecting the right plants for the location and learning how to take care of them are two key steps to successfully growing houseplants.
Before purchasing plants, walk through your home and make note of the sunlight in each room. Is the sunlight direct or indirect? Can you control the amount of sunlight by adjusting the blinds or curtains? Also, is the room generally warm or drafty? The sunlight and temperature are important because some plants are heat tolerant and others prefer a cooler environment.
Now that you understand the conditions in each room you can purchase plants that are likely to thrive in those areas. Talk to a houseplant specialist at a garden center and ask for help selecting plants suitable for your specific needs. You can also contact your county’s extension office or consult a gardening website with plant care tips.
It’s important to read and follow the plant care instructions that come with the plant. Giving the plant exactly what it needs can mean the difference between having a thriving or wilted plant. Most houseplants are happy being watered once a week. Over-watering is common, especially with succulents or cacti, and it can be the kiss of death. If the instructions say the plant likes humidity, use a spray bottle to mist the plant instead of watering it at the roots.
In addition to the proper amount of sunlight and water, good soil is another factor in growing healthy plants. It’s worth spending a few extra dollars for quality potting soil that contains fertilizer. The cost is minimal because you won’t need much soil for your plants.
If you follow the plant care instructions and do everything you’re supposed to do, the plant still may die. But don’t give up. Most garden centers will give you a refund or replace the plant within a certain amount of time if you return it with your receipt.
Remember, you can learn from your mistakes and try again. It’s a great feeling when you get it right and your plants thrive.