Plants in Typical Indoor Conditions

by Kent Higgins

When you are purchasing houseplants, pick the right plant for your environment, instead of trying to change your home to accommodate the plant you have chosen. Keep in mind the temperature at which you keep your home; different plants will thrive at different temperatures. Some like cool temperatures, in the 50s and 60s, while others enjoy 70 or even 80 degrees.

If you turn your thermostat down at night, your plants will be able to cope. In the wild, after all, they are used to a 10 to 15 degree drop in temperature at night. Because your plants are probably going to be near a window, make sure that there are no drafts that will make your plants too cold. Be aware that the temperature near a window is often several degrees colder than the temperature on the other side of the room. Especially if you live in an old home or have casement windows, be aware of where you are placing your plants.

Not only can your plants get too cold, but they can overheat, as well. While most plants can adapt to the heat levels inside the typical home, excess heat or too high temperature can lead to reduced humidity, which can damage your plants. Many houseplants are used to more humid environments than in the typical home. Plants need moisture not only their roots, but also in the air, which they absorb through their leaves. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to increase the moisture available to your plants. Do not try to do this by soaking them with too much water every time you water them; the moisture must come through the air, not through the soil. There are a few things you can do to make the air around your indoor and outdoor houseplants more humid.

If the air in your home is not humid enough for your plants, you can purchase a humidifier to place near them. These keep the humidity around them at a constant level, which will help your plants thrive. A less expensive alternative is to fill pans of water near your radiators. This water will evaporate, adding moisture to the air. Most plants also enjoy being sprayed lightly with water from a spray bottle. When done once or twice a week, this spraying will keep the foliage hydrated. Misting your plants can help keep them from drying out in a low-humidity environment. It also cleans the leaves of the dust found in a typical home, and helps keeps insects from settling on them. However, be aware of the needs of your plant. Some, like African Violet or others with hairy leaves, an actually be damaged by misting. If you mist an African Violet, the leaves will grow white spots and begin to decay.

Be aware of your plants’ requirements when bringing them into your home. While many can adapt to the conditions of the typical home, you should monitor the temperature and humidity so that your plants can thrive.

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