Dirty Hands: Houseplants add color to your home
February 17, 2013
Editor’s note: This is the first column in a two-part series. Check back at the end of the month for the final installment, which will go over watering and feeding requirements for houseplants and make general suggestions regarding which plants are best suited for you.Houseplants are the best way to add character and color to your home. A NASA study shows that plants can greatly reduce the amount of toxic chemical levels in buildings that have poor ventilation. Houseplants come in all different shapes and sizes. Some are known for their foliage; others are known for their flowers. Certain plants, if well cared for, will last longer than their owner. Others are “throw away” or “short-term bloomer” plants that are discarded after their flowers are spent. There are low-maintenance plants, as well as high-maintenance plants, providing a houseplant for nearly everyone in every situation.It is important to know how the climate of your home affects houseplants. By climate, we mean the average temperature, light and humidity. Let’s begin with considering temperature. Plants are like humans with no body fat. Picture yourself in your living room; are you chilly? So is a plant! If you require a blanket to get comfortable, the room is too cold for a plant. In the summer, if you have to shut the blinds to keep the heat out, the room is “hot” by plant standards. If your house is comfortable year-round, a plant will find it comfortable, as well. Next, take into consideration the light intensity of the location you’d like to place a plant. A house will vary in light intensity quite dramatically from one side of the home to the other. A plant is also impacted by how far it is placed from a window. A plant that typically burns if put in a southern window may do very well if moved to an indirectly lit area. Plants are very aware of intense light, whereas our human eyes are not. Plants will let you know if they are getting too much light because the leaves with start to burn. If there is too little light, they’ll get spindly and leggy. Within the same room, there can be a “high-light” plant and a “low-light” plant that are both doing well. This is only because they are placed in different locations with respect to the window. Humidity is the next critical element for many houseplants. In the Rockies, the very low humidity may adversely affect some houseplants. If the humidity is too low, plants, such as orchids, will not flower and may even decline over a period of time. There are several ways to increase the relative humidity for your plants. The easiest option is to group plants within close proximity to one another. As plants transpire, they increase the humidity around them. Another method is by using a pebble tray. Take a waterproof saucer, and fill it up with small pebbles. Place the plants on the pebbles, and add water to the rocks. Do not submerge the rocks in water; rather, fill the saucer with water just below the top of the rocks. As the water evaporates, the humidity around the plants will rise. Or, alternatively, simply use a home humidifier.Here are some other considerations. Is your house north or south facing? This simple fact will affect the climate of your house! In addition, vents and windows may create drafts, which a plant may love or hate. Stay tuned for our next article, where we will discuss watering and feeding of houseplants and make some general suggestions for what plants are best suited for you.For more information, connect with Colorado Alpines & Wildflower Farm on several social media channels. As a member, you’ll receive current news, seasonal tips and exclusive discounts. Colorado Alpines, providing full landscape services, and Wildflower Farm, the valley’s only year-round retail garden center, are both located in Edwards on U.S. Highway 6. Reach them at 970-926-5504, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.