How to make your house plants last longer

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RISTRUTTURAZIONE DI UN APPARTAMENTO CON CUCINA A VISTA, Laura Lucente Architetto Laura Lucente Architetto Modern houses
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Watching flowers bloom is therapeutic. As buds bloom open, the garden becomes a riot of colors and fragrances, inviting humans and birds alike to enjoy it. While some plants have flowers that bloom throughout the year, others bloom only for a few months. To have a garden that flowers in every season, you need to identify the various stages of different plants and plan your garden accordingly. Ideally, a garden should have a mix of perennially flowering plants and seasonal plants.

There are a number of factors that affect the number of flowers on a plant. The most prominent among them are the age of the plant, the amount of light it receives and the nutrients in the soil. All of these factors excepting age can be manipulated to make a plant produce more flowers and to extend the flowering season.

Choose the right pot

To have a garden you don’t need to have a large plot of land. A container garden is ideal for people living in apartments or if you do not have a large outdoor area. The first step towards ensuring flowers bloom in a container garden is to choose the right planter.  

Your choice of planter depends mostly on your budget and style preference. No matter what material you choose for your planter, it must feature drainage holes at the bottom for excess water to drain through. Size is another factor that needs to be taken into consideration when choosing a pot. If the pot is too small, the root system will not develop properly, thus hindering the blossoming of flowers. A pot with an 8” diameter is the minimum requirement for a 10-12” tall plant.

Give them some vitamins

All plants, especially flowering plants, need fertilizers to boost their growth. While some plants are heavy feeders and need frequent fertilization, others need to be fertilized only once or twice in the year. 

The three most important elements your fertilizer must contain are nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. While nitrogen encourages the growth of leaves, phosphorous is also known as a bloom booster. Ensure that the soil is wet before fertilizing a plant. Wet soil will protect the roots of the plant from being burnt by direct fertilizer. The soil in a planter should ideally be fertilized before planting new seasonal flowers. For established perennials, fertilize the soil in spring.

Protect them from the sun

Sunlight contains the entire spectrum of light. Within this, blue light is responsible for the promotion of leafy growth while red light encourages the development of buds. Thus, while both types of light are necessary for plants, red light is more important for flowers. A plant can use its energy to either create leaves or flowers at a time. Plants grown in shady areas are said to receive more red light and thus have more flowers than plants grown in direct sunlight. A green screen can help create a shady zone for your plants and encourage them to have a longer flowering period. Alternately you could move the plants indoors against a window where they will receive filtered light through the day.

This arrangement has been created by notable architect Laura Lucente Architetto based in Cologno Monzese.

Water the flowers regularly

Plants can survive without additional fertilizers but cannot grow without water. However, over-watering also can kill a plant. While some plants like succulents and peace lilies are drought resistant, others thrive in moist environments. Recognize when your plants need watering and how much water they require. Consulting a nursery can help identify the needs of your plant. 

Potted plants tend to dry out sooner than plants grown in the ground and hence require more frequent watering. Early morning and early evenings are the best time to water plants. When watering a flowering plant, ensure that the water is distributed evenly over the entire area.

Remove flowers in bad conditions

Pruning and trimming deadheads on plants not only makes them look better, it also encourages a flowering plant to have more buds and extends the flowering season. If dead flowers are not removed, the plant focuses energy on developing seeds rather than on producing more flowers. To deadhead a plant, cut off the flower just above the closest set of healthy leaves. Repeat this process every few days to have a garden that blooms for a longer period. Along with removing dead flowers also, remove dead leaves and cut back dead shoots.

After spring, once a flowering plant has stopped blooming, lightly prune the plant to encourage new shoots which will be able to bear more buds and flowers. Selectively pruning a plant can also stagger the flowering of the plant thus extending the flowering season. Try this on plants that grow vigorously and produce a mass of flowers such as phlox and lavatera.

Let's play some music!

Music has a stimulating effect, not only on people but on plants as well. Plants that have been exposed to calming classical music or jazz tend to have more flowers and a longer flowering period than those that are not exposed to these stimuli. However, harsh music like rock and metal genres is said to have an adverse effect on plants. The plant's response to music is not because it listens to the music, but because the leaves pick up the sound vibrations. These vibrations speed up the protoplasmic movement in the plant cells to encourage the formation and blooming of buds.

Lastly, make sure that your garden is kept free from pests and insects for your plants to have a longer flowering period. Insects such as aphids and thrips are attracted to new shoots and flowers. These pests not only stunt the growth of a plant but also spread plant viruses. Mealy bugs and slugs are other pests that are commonly found in gardens. Unfortunately, most of these bugs are very tiny and hence are identified only after they damage a plant. Spraying plants with an insecticide just before the bloom is a good way of keeping pests at bay. Additionally, weed your garden regularly to remove weeds that may strangulate the plant’s roots.

For more ideas on gardening read this Ideabook on how to create a holistic garden!

Will you be cultivating an indoor garden? Let us know in the comments!

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