General care for house plants. I at one time years ago grew many house plants. Here are some tips. House plants are fairly easy to take care of if you follow some basics. The following are general care directions for most houseplants. A few tropical plants may require more specific care.
Container size and type:
House plants like to be slightly root bound, so if you take the plant out of the container you will see a mass of roots. About once a year or when it is time to size up the pot (spring time is best) use a container one size or 2” larger only. Use only fresh potting soil mix. The colour of the container may be important for many plants. Black helps retain heat within the container and white does the opposite. Clay pots will dry out sooner than plastic containers.
Watering and feeding:
The containers should dry out between watering times so, water well about once a week with room temperature water, less often in winter. Before you water however pick up the container to see how heavy it is. If it is light, it’s time for water. Other factors which will influence the amount and frequency of water are humidity, temperature, season, location of the plant, ambient room temperature, and amount of direct or indirect sunlight. If you find that plant soil will not retain water (this usually happens when regular watering routine is not kept) then soak the plant in a tub of water for two or three hours and let drain.
Mist the plant occasionally. If you do not have a bottle mister and the plant is small enough to handle, you can put the plant in the sink or bathtub and lightly shower it using water about at room temperate.
Fertilize about once a month with 20-20-20 fertilizer. Follow the directions on the package for strength of solution. If you soaked the plant in a tub for a couple of hours then you likely will have washed away all of the fertilizer so you will have to fertilize again after the soak.
Medium light is required for most house plants. If you have a dark location then consider a grow light. A Fluorescent fixture about 12 inches above the plant will work well. Special grow lights such as ‘sodium vapour’ can also be used but they will produce more heat than the fluorescent fixtures. Turn the plant occasionally so that the plant will grow symmetrically.
General care for Basil plants over the winter:
Basil is an annual herb plant (one year) so generally it dies in the late fall. You can, however keep them over the winter by following some basics in plant care.
Basil likes a lot of light and heat. Locate it far enough back from the draft of a window, yet close enough for maximum natural light. A south facing window is preferred if at all possible. Give the plant at least 10 to 12 hours of light per day. If extra light is required you can use a fluorescent fixture or other growing lights positioned about one foot (30 cm) above the plant. If the light gives off excessive amount of heat then you will have to allow for more distance. The light fixture will also add some warmth to the plant. As this is a summer plant, it will thrive in a warm location.
Water the plant frequently with room temperature water. Feed about once a week with dilute solution of fish fertilizer, kelp fertilizer (both are organic) or regular house plant 20-20-20 fertilizer.
When trimming basil take off the top leaves. This will encourage the side shoots to grow. In the spring time when the weather is warm enough you can put the outside and use it all next summer. Basil plants that have flowered on the top have been stressed. Leaving the flowers on them you will then be able to harvest seed, but that will be the end of the plants life cycle.
General Care for Tomato plants:
Tomato plants are normally one of two categories. Vine or Bush (indeterminate or determinate). Care for both is basically the same. Vines must be staked and with a bush, it’s still a good idea to stake them or to use a ‘cage’.
Growing from seed: Start the seed using bottom heat in a plug tray. (Small pockets and small amount of sterile soil). The ambient temperature should be approximately 72-85 degrees F. Once the seedling has at least two true leaves, or about 2 to 3 inches high, it can be transplanted to a larger container. Try a 4 inch pot filled with sterile potting soil. Put the seedling in the container by bending the stem so that most of the stem is below the soil and just the leaves are above the soil level. This will allow the plant to attain more roots resulting in a heather stronger plant. Continue growing at about 62 degrees F until the plant is 6-12” high. Cooler nights and warmer days are best.
Transplanting to the garden: Tomatoes are heavy feeders which requiring rich soil. Compost or manure should be dug in and may need to be amended further when fruit stars forming. Dig a hole for the plant; fill with your plants and water well for the first week. The location should be sunny, warm and preferably in an enclosure to protect from cold spring nights. A good location could be below eves on the south side of a building, greenhouse, south facing fence. From the time you plant outside the leaves should not stay wet overnight, which means that you should always water at ground level only.
Vine tomatoes will usually grow to about 6 feet high or more so an appropriate stake should be used. They must then be tied up to the stake as they will not support themselves. An alternative to stake can be a string which works well.
Growing on: As the plant grows remove the suckers, which grow between the branches and stem. If these are left on the plant will become too bushy resulting in possible lower yields and difficulty in picking the fruit. In the case of bush plants, removing suckers and some of the lower branches with strengthen the stem. I have read though, a study which showed that yields will not be changed if suckers are removed. It does look neater anyway.
End of the Season: Once the plant stops producing then remove and buried all parts especially if tomatoes are to be grown in the same location the following year.
General Care for General Vegetable starter plants:
For all the vegetable starter there are some common do's for all in general.
1. Water, water, water. Every day soak it for at least two week for all new plants. After a week dig around the perimeter of the plug root ball. If there are lots of new roots, then you can cut back to regular watering, of once or twice a week.
2. Container vegetables always require much more water than in the ground. Fertilize as well.
3. All vegetable plants require full sun. Some such as lettuce which can grow in cooler conditions may do alright is some shade.
4. If you are planting, lettuce for instance, lots of it and want to spread out your harvest, then you can starve the plant of sun or water. Too little water though can make the plants bitter though so make sure you water.