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Unhealthy House Plants

After such a long winter my houseplants are looking unhealthy. What can I do?
By Jay Mclaren

Certainly with a long winter, short days, low light intensity and general lack of good growing conditions houseplants suffer. The coming of longer days and more sunshine will help. The other big help with improving the health of houseplants is to fertilize them.

For flowering plants, something high in the middle number will help to bring out more blooms. The middle number of all fertilizers is Phosphorous. It encourages flowers and good rooting. A good example of a fertilizer for flowering houseplants would be 15-30-15. For green plants such as the many tropicals that we grow indoors, a fertilizer higher is the first number, which is Nitrogen, would be beneficial. Nitrogen is what promotes healthy green plants. An example of a high Nitrogen fertilizer for indoor use would be a balanced fertilizer such as 20-20-20. If there is not many of either flowering or tropical plants in the collection an all-purpose fertilizer 15-15-18 would be appropriate.

The timing of fertilizer applications is important. During the winter months feeding every 6 to 8 weeks is adequate. However, now we are experiencing better growing conditions and a fertilizing every 2 weeks would encourage healthier plants. The fertilizers mentioned are all soluble. That means they are dissolved in water and applied with a watering can. The best time of day to do this is first thing in the morning when the growing period of the day begins, and when the foliage of the plants can dry out so that they are not wet through the night.