Posts Tagged ‘Light’

Today’s post can be heard on the public radio show Crop to Cuisine, hosted by Dov Hirsch.

Crop To Cuisine

Make room, gardeners, the season for houseguests has arrived. For these, rearranging the furniture and cleaning the windows is a must, and if you slip something extra into their water they won’t mind.

Houseplants have regained their place on windowsills and counters, brought in from the patios and decks where they spent the summer. With a little understanding and prepping the house for their visit, your foliaged friends will be happy all winter long.

When the plant is brought inside, do you stick it into an unused corner of the room or a place that needs a little more ‘meaning’? This is a common mistake, since those spaces are already empty of clutter. But don’t leave your plant huddling in a cold, dark corner — that’s the last place to put your houseplant.

Think of your plant as royalty and choose a bright, sunny location away from drafts or heaters to place it. Move the furniture if you have to, to give your plants the pick of your home’s sunbeams. And get ready to clean. Houseplants are not overly demanding -they don’t care if the carpet is stained or the dishes need doing — instead, all they really want are good, clear windows.

Light is critical for houseplants to thrive, yet because the amount of light needed varies from species to species, deciding where to put it can be a challenge. Check the plant tag for guidance on low (limited), medium (indirect or bright), or high (direct) light requirements and place the plant in the right spot, or add supplemental lighting.

As a rule of thumb, low-level light rarely strikes the leaves and typically comes from north facing windows. Medium, or indirect light, is when light strikes the foliage for less than four hours per day. Through winter, medium light comes from east and west facing windows.

High or direct light is as it sounds — light falls across the plant for a minimum of four hours daily. Plants that love these conditions should be placed in a south-facing window. Distance from the window plays a role in light levels also, so keep your plants within two feet of the window. Further away and light levels fall off rapidly.

The dry interior of homes is particularly stressful to many of our tropical houseplants, which need more humidity than is present in houses. Although misting the foliage is one way to approach this, it doesn’t provide steady humidity and must be repeated throughout the day.

An easier approach is to place a pebble tray filled with water under the plant. Simply take a tray and layer small stones evenly along the bottom, then fill with enough water to reach the top of the stones. Place potted plants on this tray, but take care that the water is not touching the pot itself. Most houseplants should not be placed in standing water.

Refill the pebble tray often to keep the humidity levels even, and group plants closely together. Water vapor coming off the soil or clay pots adds to the air moisture of the happy group.

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