Getting to root of pot plant problems

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POT plants are bought at this time of year to bring nature indoors and, of course, the purchaser will want them to last as long as possible and even flower again in subsequent years, writes Jake Coltman.

However, this is where problems can quickly and often show. For those people gifted with the so-called ‘green fingers’ then their gift may thrive under their expert care, on the other hand, many people love to have and enjoy house plants but lack the know-how to keep them for any length of time.

Watering is often the biggest killer of plants kept in the home. Too much and the roots rot, too little and they dry out. Many plants are resting during the winter months so they do not need much at all but the types available at this time are not resting and do require watering, however, still in moderation.

Centrally-heated rooms are not ideal for some plants, others cantolerate the dry atmosphere with a little help, such as an occasional spray of water or stand the pot either on a tray of pebbles or have a small layer of pebbles in the bottom of the overpot and keep a little water among them for humidity.

There can be no hard and fast rule about how much and when to water a plant, it all depends on the compost they are in and the temperature of their surroundings. No plant likes to be in close proximity to a radiator, gas or electric fire, or between a window and closed curtains during frost nights.

There are some plants more popular than others at this time. Poinsettias like a warm room and hate draughts, even getting them home from where they were purchased can give them a chill and they will show this by dropping their leaves. Give them water when the surface of the soil dries out.

On the other hand, cyclamen prefer a cool, light position and especially watering from below. Sit the plant in a saucer or small bowl of water and leave to allow the compost to become damp. Giving water from the top like most plants only results in the crown rotting and the plant dying.