Top Foliage Plants Growing Tips

By Thomas Fryd

Shady locations pose special problems when it comes to furnishing them with plants - problems that are challenging, but surmountable; problems that for happy solutions depend upon the selection of suitable kinds of plants.

Around the home, on porches, patios and terraces and in sunrooms and window gardens there, are likely to be places where light is comparatively poor, but such places really need decorative vegetation to provide a homelike, lived-in atmosphere. Wisely chosen plants provide the answer for successful decoration of such problem spots.

Here, we will take a look into the uses of foliage plants in and about the home, for they offer by far the largest selection of kinds that prefer or endure shade. And, best of all, the kinds will look right in shaded places - they are plants. that belong where light is subdued.

One of the subtleties of successful gardening is to employ plants and flowers where they seem to belong. Shaded places kept aglow with blooming plants call for constant replacements, and that means over-decoration. It is a happier solution to use plants that thrive in shade.

In most of the locations we are considering, the plants will be grown in pots or tubs or in movable or built-in boxes of one kind or another that currently are called "planters." Such container-grown specimens require adequate cultural care - attention in matters of watering, fertilizing and keeping them clean and free of grime and pests. In recent years the advantageous employment of artificial illumination for foliage house plants has received attention from experimenters, and positive recommendations may now be made with confidence.

Artificial lighting is of great help in compensating for lack of sufficient daylight. Foliage plants that are tolerant of poor light have been kept in good condition for a year or more by the use of electric light alone or of electric light with but the smallest amount of natural light.

Fluorescent light, or fluorescent light together with some incandescent illumination, is most satisfactory. Incandescent light alone, in adequate intensities, produces too much heat for the well-being of the plants.

Fluorescent light alone, on the other hand, tends to give a cold appearance that is less flattering to foliage plants than when used with some of the yellower rays of incandescent bulbs. This is something to consider if you are concerned with specially lighted displays of foliage plants in homes, stores, restaurants, offices or theaters. In the average home you will be more interested in making the best of the lights you already have.

The thing to remember is that any type of lighting like low voltage landscape lighting (other than ultraviolet ray lamps) benefits foliage plants that lack sufficient natural daylight. The more intense the light (provided a harmful amount of heat is not produced) and the more hours each day the plants are submitted to light the better they will be.

Experiments at Rutgers University established the fact that some foliage plants would remain in good condition for twelve months or more if they received as little as 25 foot-candles of light for sixteen hours each day. It should be noted, however, that the kinds that lived under these low intensities grew better and lived longer when the intensity of the illumination was increased to 50 foot-candles for sixteen hours each day. Also, additional kinds could be grown under these conditions. Still further improvement was noted and a still greater variety could be grown when the light intensity was held at 100 foot-candles sixteen hours each day.

In the average home, only rarely will artificial illumination equal these higher intensities. Recommended levels for reading are 20 foot-candles and for sewing or workbench illumination 40 foot-candles. The advantage you can gain from ordinary home lighting is the placing near lights at night of those plants that get no more than the minimum illumination for their kind from natural daylight. The combination of low-intensity artificial lighting at night and minimum or somewhat better than minimum light intensity during the day. will combine to produce the effect of stronger daylight or longer days. - 29857

About the Author:

Sign Up for our Free Newsletter

Enter email address here