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Bundle up with houseplants this winter season

While a succulent will thrive in a warm, direct sun location, a plant like a cyclamen prefers a cooler spot without direct sun.

COLORADO, USA — Houseplants are important to add to your indoor space. They beautify our personal spaces, improve air quality, are therapeutic and I think, they help lighten the heart.

But before you invest in houseplants, you need to understand what they need and how to help them thrive in your home. Houseplants need the right mixture of light, temperature, water, humidity, and healthy soil.

Invest in a good, light, healthy potting soil. Potting soil shouldn’t contain a lot of fillers like wood or bark. Those fillers make the soil too dry, and it won’t retain moisture. On the other hand, you don’t need soil that is processed with a lot of water-soluble fertilizer. That type of soil doesn’t know what kind of plant that you’re planting so it cannot determine the amount of fertilizer that the plant needs.

Watering seems to be people’s biggest stressor, or maybe it’s remembering to water. Overwatering causes root rot and introduces pests like the tiny, very annoying fungus gnats. Underwatering also stresses the plant or down-right kills it and will introduce pests like spider mites or aphids. If you are unsure on how much water your plants need, invest in a moisture reader. This gauge takes the guess work out of watering. And it you’re really bad a remembering to water it’s easy to set a reminder on your smart device or calendar.

I seem to be drawn to pots that don’t contain a drainage hole, and that’s o.k. if you don’t overwater. If you’re just beginning your houseplant obsession, then I recommend always choosing a pot with a drainage hole with a saucer to catch the excess water.

We are not blessed with humidity in our climate and when we have the heat on inside our houses during the winter, they air is even more dry. This causes a plant to lose water rapidly from its leaves. When the roots of a plant absorb water from the soil, it is then moved up through the plant and out into the leaves. This is a vital process for plants, it’s called transpiration. Misting your plants once a week will help or you can add stones or marbles to a saucer and place your pot on top.

Pay attention to the light and temperature in the room where you’re adding plants. Bright, dark, cool, hot…all of that matters. While a succulent will thrive in a warm, direct sun location, a plant like a cyclamen prefers a cooler spot without direct sun. It can be as simple as reading the plant tag to help you decide which plant is best for your situation.

Again, research before you invest your money and time. Your local garden center will be a wealth of information for you…that’s where the houseplant gurus are. Spend time browsing the book selections at your local bookstore or see what the library has as well.

My 5 favorite easy houseplants you could start with are: spider plant (I love that this plant makes babies that you can cut off, place in soil and voila you doubled your plant collection!), pothos, peperomia (this plant family is huge and there are so many varieties to choose from), mother in laws tongue, and peace lily.

And if all else fails, start with a cactus or succulent.

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