Caring for plants begins as soon as they are planted in an environment that fulfills their growth requirements.  Thus, for the plants to thrive, it is necessary to take intro account watering, repotting or the application of fertilizer.  Moreover, it is also important to provide them with daily care by stimulating the branches’ development or by applying insecticide to get rid of diseases that attack the leaves and stems.

Temperature, light, water, nutrients and periodic care are all factors that need to be taken into consideration for your plant’s proper development.  You must therefore create conditions that are favourable to their development.

The right tools for taking care of plants

To provide your plants with the optimal conditions for their development, it is important to have adequate tools.  First of all, you need to make a good choice of containers for your plants.  Choose plastic or terra-cotta containers, as most plants do not adapt to ceramic pots.  You can also use self-watering plant containers.  Thanks to them, the substrate will absorb the required amount of water during dry weather.  Otherwise, you can also use the saucers sold with containers to collect excess irrigation water.  But do not let that water stagnate, as it will cause your plant’s roots to rot.

To maintain your plants, it is also advisable to purchase a thermometer to ensure that the ambient temperature is suitable for your plants.  You’ll also need a watering can, which will also be used for the delivery of fertilizer solutions, and a spray for plants like ficus that enjoy having their leaves hydrated.

The effects of watering and fertilizer use on the plant’s development

Watering can replace the water loss due to evaporation and prevent the soil in the planting container from drying out. Water should never be given in excess to avoid waterlogging and root rot.

A weekly supply of fertilizer is sufficient for the plant’s development.  It may be added in the form of powder, stakes or specific liquid solutions to be spread into the container.  Neglected plants can be revived by spraying a fertilizer solution on their leaves.  With this method, the absorption is instantaneous. Be that as it may, do not apply fertilizer when the plant is dormant (including in the fall) or when it is sick.

Plant maintenance

During its growth, the plant may need to be held up by a stake. It should not be too tight. On the other hand, the plant’s container needs to be replaced every year by another that is twice as big.  Take this opportunity to replace the soil, enrich it and trim the roots. Then, water the plant and place it for a few weeks in the shade. This procedure must be carried out in the spring.

It is the plant’s foliage that produces new shoots. So if you want a denser foliage, pinch back the top of the stems.  These will then develop into several branches.

Diseases and harmful insects can hinder your plant’s proper growth.  To tackle aphids, whiteflies, spider mites and thrips, use insecticide and/or fungicide sprays. In the case of scale insects, which are difficult to get rid of, use a stick to remove them.

The freshness of the plant is also maintained by dusting it with a damp cloth. In fact, dust impedes photosynthesis and clogs the pores of the leaves. The leaves’ shininess can also be obtained by infusing or spraying glazing products.

Repotting plants

First of all, any plant needs to be repotted after two years, preferably in a bigger container.  To do this, gently remove the plant from its container, trim the diseased roots and get rid of old soil.  Then, put the plant in its new container, taking care to soak the container overnight if it is a clay pot.  Then place a layer of gravel and clay beads at the bottom of the container to help drainage.  Then, insert your plant and new soil in the container.  Repotting must be done in spring or autumn.

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Published in Garden maintenance by Alexander on 06 Jul 2011