Where you choose to display your plants in the home can greatly affect their chances of survival. In any room the intensity of light is brightest close to the window and falls off rapidly as the distance increases. There are also temperature gradients depending on the distance from the radiators. Furthermore, even in a centrally heated house, there can be wide differences in temperature from room to room. Low levels of humidity are a constant problem in centrally heated houses. Consequently, special provision may have to be made to increase the humidity of the air in the immediate surroundings of the plants.
Success with houseplants therefore hinges on the selection of plants which are most suited to the conditions prevailing in the various display areas. The following notes on the general growing conditions in different rooms may also be helpful.
This is the most popular display area for houseplants even though the conditions are by no means ideal for plant growth. Certainly the temperature is usually too high for flowering plants with the result that their flowering period is considerably shortened. Nevertheless there are plenty of houseplants which will grow satisfactorily in the living room, especially if they are positioned near to a window. Displaying the plants in groups also helps since this increases the humidity of the air around the plants.
Conditions here are generally similar to those in the living room.
These are not widely used for the display of houseplants even though they usually provide an even, draught-free atmosphere. Unheated spare bedrooms, however, are ideal for plants such as geranium (pelargonium), which prefer cool conditions in winter. They are also useful for housing flowering plants such as Christmas and Easter cacti whilst they are budding. These plants can then be put on display elsewhere when they come into flower.
This is normally somewhat cooler and certainly more humid than the living room and so is ideal for a wide range of houseplants. Furthermore, the frosted glass means that sensitive plants are not at risk from damage by direct sunlight. Bathrooms thus provide an excellent convalescent home for plants.
Most houseplants flourish in the cooler and more humid conditions found in kitchens. So it is not surprising that this is a popular display area for houseplants.
This is generally fairly cool and cold draughts can be a problem in winter. Light levels too are often rather low except close to a window. Unheated halls, however, provide good conditions for winter- flowering plants, provided that these are displayed in the light areas.
This is usually the best-lit room in the house and so provides excellent growing conditions for most types of houseplants during the summer. Unless, however, the conservatory is heated, the range of plants which can be grown in it during the winter is restricted to those which can survive cold temperatures. High temperatures can be a problem in summer unless plenty of ventilation is given. The use of gravel trays or multiple plantings is also to be recommended so as to ensure that the atmosphere does not become too dry.
This needs to be adjusted to the individual plant requirements. Some plants flourish only when the growing compost is kept constantly moist. Most, however, thrive best when the compost is allowed to dry out to some extent between waterings. Remember too that plants need less water when they are dormant than when they are active.
Modem peat-based composts have only low reserves of plant food so regular feeding is needed when the plants are in active growth. Dormant plants on the other hand take up very little plant food so feeding at this time is not necessary. Indeed it can lead to root damage due to the build up of chemicals in the growing medium.
Keep a regular check on your plants for any sign of cultural defects or attacks by pests and diseases. These troubles are much easier to remedy if they are dealt with at an early stage.