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How to Care for Houseplants

Do your plants always meet a grim fate? Don’t despair—we can turn your brown thumb green.

Photo: Antonis Achilleos

Décor Rules
Repotting: Remove plastic pots and choose terra-cotta or ceramic planters glazed in colors that match your décor. Make sure there is a drainage hole in the bottom and a saucer to catch water. Always repot in the same-sized container, or, if the plant is root-bound (roots tightly wrapping around the outside of the soil), repot in a larger container.
Grouping: Think three—display three of a kind across a windowsill, mantel, or down the center of a table. hen grouping plants. Or, choose three different plants with contrasting leaf texture, size, height, and color. Group them in a triangle with the tallest at the rear.

Grow like a pro
Soil: Use a sterile potting mix (called “Indoor Planting Mix,” available at garden centers). It contains no diseases or weed seeds, and is free-draining (most plants don’t like waterlogged soil). For drainage, put rocks or pottery shards in the bottom before filling with soil.
Pots: Get pots that have drainage holes and place them in saucers to catch the overflow of water. If your planter doesn’t have them, drill holes into the bottom.
Water: Check for moisture by sticking your finger an inch into the soil. If it’s completely dry, it’s time to water! Plants also appreciate a light spritzing once a week.
Light: Check the tag or ask the shopkeeper to find out what light requirements the plant may have.
Fertilizing: Some plants require feeding during their active growth season (usually spring and summer). Make sure to always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Plant care for dummies
Brown leaves = too much or too little water, too much fertilizer
Yellow leaves = too much or too little light, too much water
Falling leaves = too much sun, not enough water, too drafty
Drooping leaves = needs water
Roots twining around, poking out of soil = time to repot
Soil feels dry = duh, time to water
White fuzzy or webby substance on leaves = time to wipe with cotton (soaked in soapy water)

3 idiot-proof plants
Devil’s Ivy
An extremely hardy plant, Devil’s Ivy (also known as pothos), sends out long shoots of bright green leaves that resemble ivy.
Vibe: Glossy heart-shaped leaves will vine up to ten feet, and can be trained over a window for an easy, natural valance.
Care: Devil’s Ivy is perfect for dark areas—dim or north-facing light is great.
Tip: Water when the surface of the soil starts to feel dry
Order from: Larose.com.

These tropical faves bloom for months on end.
Vibe: Orchids can be big or small, with flowers shaped like everything from giant pansies to tiny fireflies.
Care: Grow best in bark—not soil—and like to be kept evenly moist, but not waterlogged. They prefer a warm spot and filtered (rather than direct) light.
Tip: If the leaves feel soft, it’s time to water. Use lukewarm water in the morning so the leaves dry out before nighttime (this will reduce the chance of rot).
Order from: Orchids.com

Jade plant
A tree-like, fleshy-leaved succulent.
Vibe: These are chunky mod plants perfect for contemporary decors.
Care: Prefer a sunny spot, but dim light is fine. Water liberally once a week in spring and summer, but allow soil to dry out between waterings in fall and winter.
Tip: For best results, don’t allow water to accumulate in the saucer.
Order from: Windowbox.com

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