To make a house plant live as long as possible proper light is essential. Flowering plants require full sunlight, while ferns and other foliage plants as well as those that flower but a short time will thrive in an unshaded north window or in a bright light just out of the sun. Broad or thick-leaved plants such as palms, snake plants and philodendrons are best in the shade, which means daylight strong enough to read by.—correct temperature is necessary to plant life in the house; if it ranges between 40° and 80° F. and a little lower at night there is little need for concern; but the best night temperature for all plants is around 50° or 60° F. However, if plant has been in bright light all day, a night temperature of 70° F. is satisfactory. To be on safe side, remove plants to cool place at night particularly if room has been very warm. — proper watering of plants does not demand that they stand in water. Examine plants daily, water only when needed, usually when top soil becomes dry. Submerge pot in cold water and leave for 1/2 hour to several hours, till surface soil is barely moist; but this is usually unnecessary if humidity or moisture of room is right and air never allowed to dry. A pan of hot water on radiator or kettle of boiling water on stove help to increase humidity of air. The ideal way is by the wick method or self-watering pot. The wick may be a special kind sold commercially for this purpose or a porous substitute like cheesecloth or burlap. It is best to put it in the hole in bottom of container before potting so that 1 or 2 inches of material may be unravelled and spread over bottom of pot. The rest of the watering wick rests in water in partially covered container that supports the pot. The wick works like a lamp wick which carries oil to a flame. If plant container is metal, glazed or painted, and not porous, less water is lost.
While plants need some ventilation, especially if gas fumes are present, it is unwise to place over radiator, in open window, or where an electric fan can blow on them, as this often causes plants to wilt simply because evaporation is too great.—to water plants when away from home, the wick described above may be extended deep down into a large bucket of water; if there is no wick of this type available, extend piece of heavy yarn from each pot to bottom of large bucket of water and it will carry enough moisture to keep plants in good condition. —to feed plants during growing and flowering seasons use liquid food made of a good commercial fertilizer and use according to instructions. Some plants require feeding about every 3 or 4 weeks, but if plant in bloom is fresh from florist, do not feed for at least 6 weeks. Mature plants growing in home require feeding about 3 or 4 times each year. —to clean leaves sponge gently about once a week with equal parts of lukewarm water and milk; or spray with hand syringe; or sprinkle gently with whiskbroom dipped in water. This should be done mornings and not nights.
To pot plants. Never use pot either too large or too small for plant.
New pots should be soaked to absorb all possible water. Old pots should be thoroughly cleaned before re-using. In actual potting, the container or pot should be wiped dry. When potting is completed, a thorough preliminary watering is needed to indicate if water is going through. Metal, glazed, or painted pots or containers are preferable to clay or porous type. All should have a hole in bottom for proper drainage.'
— soil used for most house plants should be equal parts of peat, rotted leaves, or leached well-rotted manure, and sand, and rich garden soil; or 1/4 fine humus or well-rotted leafmold, 1/4 sand, and 1/2 good loamy garden soil. Always leave l/2-inch space between top of pot and soil. Be sure to pot firmly: press soil down by using thumbs and rotate pot with fingers; continue until a leaf pulled will not dislodge the entire plant.
—repot slow-growing plant about every 2 years. These or any others should be repotted when roots become tangled, in which case a larger pot is needed. If a plant is to be repotted in same container, remove some soil and replace with new.
—to make attractive covers for pots, pin around them strips of wallpaper to match walls or used drapery or slipcover material to match other items in room; renew when necessary. Otherwise color of pot or container should harmonize or blend with surroundings as well as with plant itself.
—to make miniature trellis for ivy or other climbing plant, thrust handle of wire coat hanger into soil and bend hanger to form a circle or any other desired shape.
Plant Troubles. When bacteria or fungi attack a house plant, the common remedy is to remove infected blossom or leaf, but if these cause rotting at base, discard plant. Insects, which thrive under house conditions, are easily controlled.
—white flies, any one of several kinds of insects which attack the underside of plant leaves, especially ferns, may be removed by spraying with pyrethrum and soap.
—plant lice and mealy bugs are best controlled with a commercial insecticide, although mealy bugs may require a special white oil spray; follow directions on the package or bottle.
—plant scales, or scale insects, on palms, rubber plants, and ornamental citrus plants may be removed by washing leaves with soapy water, using toothbrush; afterwards syringe with clear water; if this fails after two or three times, an oil emulsion may be required. Other types of plants require an insecticide sprayed on at 3 to 5 week intervals if scales are young.
—mites or red spider may be controlled by increased humidity in room where plant is kept, but if this does not help, use a commercial spray made for the purpose.
—when plants are frostbitten, sprinkle with fresh cold water and place under box or bowl for 2 days to exclude light and temperature changes.
— when foliage yellows, the cause may be poor light, too wet soil, or too much fertilizer resulting in injury to roots. If, however, roots are healthy, soil may be too alkaline and additional fertilizer required.
— when leaf edges die, cause may be incorrect watering and fertilizing, resulting in injured roots.
—when leaves have dead spots, cause may be insects, disease, dry soil or too much sunlight.
—to kill worms on plants, stick sulphur ends of matches in ground around roots; or mix a little fine tobacco with soil in each pot. See individual listings for plants in the home.