The Q&A Archives: Easy Care Houseplants

Question: What are the best houseplants? I live in an apartment and have a small porch but my plants don't seem to thrive.

Answer: Some houseplants can be really difficult to grow and others thrive on neglect. So, to get the best performance from your plants, try growing the easy types first, then graduate to those that are harder to please.

The first order of business is to determine the amount of light your porch will provide. Very bright light will suit some plants and very low light will suit others. Let's concentrate on easy-care plants with medium light requirements. Some good old standby's include schefflera, pothos, ivy and spiderplant. If you want a little color in your porch garden, you can also grow coleus, cordyline and variegated leaf dracaena.

Next priority is choosing pots with adequate drainage and filling them with fresh potting soil. Moisten the potting soil first, then fill the pot half-way. Scoop out little trench, place the roots in the pot so they can spread out naturally, then fill in with potting soil, tamping down gently as you fill the container to within an inch of the top.

Water the plants well, making sure water flows out of the drainage holes. Once each week check the pots to make sure the soil is moist but not soggy wet. Water as necessary and, once each month, set the pot in a tub of water so it can soak up as much moisture as it needs to eliminate any air spaces near the roots.

With regular watering and occasional feeding, your new plants should thrive.

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