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Tips on How to Select a Perfect Houseplant

By Charles Hopkins Published 06/24/2006 | Home Improvement
The calming beauty of a fern or the dramatic statement of a palm tree - the plants we choose to decorate our homes both compliment our decor and provide a refreshing spot of life in an otherwise static environment.

If you are trying to decide which type of plants will both suit your home and your life there are three points to take into consideration.

SAFETY

Philodendron and ivy are popular houseplants because of their beautiful coloration, attractive leaves and low maintenance. However, some varieties of these beauties are just a sample of plants that are incredibly poisonous to humans or animals when eaten.

If you have children or animals in the home or as visitors you are wise to take the time to investigate which plants are harmful and which are not. Some plants do not even have to be eaten to be harmful, so it is well worth avoiding them if possible.

Whether or not you choose to have poisonous plants in your home it is always a good idea to keep them out of the reach of children and pets as well as have the name of the plant clearly identified in case of an emergency.

LIGHT AND TEMPERATURE

If you are new to plant care or simply don't want to spend more time than necessary to care for your plants you need to match your plant choice to the light and temperature environment in your home.

As a rule of thumb, cactus and other succulent plant varieties need a great deal of sunlight and warmth. While direct sun - especially intensified through a window - is not good for any houseplants, you will want a south or west exposure with plenty of light for the best results when choosing these plants.

Flowering plants also require good sunlight, although not as much as succulents. If you do not have a bright room for your flowering plants they may survive but not flower as frequently or at all.

Foliage without flowers often does well in lower light areas. Ferns, ivy and some palms are examples of plants that often do well away from windows and bright sun.

If your home is very dry, especially during the winter, you may need to spray your plants with a mist of water to provide the humidity they need to thrive.

Many nurseries provide information on a tag when you purchase a plant. Use the information on these tags to identify plants that will do best in your home environment.

APPEARANCE

Plants come in such a wide variety of colors, shapes and sizes that it is easy to find a plant that suits your taste and decor.

Delicate foliage like ferns and ivies look great in traditional decors while simple, stunning palms and other tropicals stand out in modern or Mediterranean decors.

Grouping plants can provide an attractive vignette in an empty corner or near a window, but be careful not to overdo it or your home may begin to look more like a greenhouse than a home.

Check your plants regularly for changes in appearance - brown or yellowed tips which may mean over or under watering, as well as spots, holes or changes in color that could mean disease or infestation. If you suspect either you should immediately separate that plant from the others to avoid contamination. When bringing new plants home set them aside for a week or so until you are sure they are not contaminated before putting them near your other plants.

You are sure to enjoy the addition of plants to your home, whether you intend to devote a lot of time to them or as little as possible. Choosing wisely will make your new additions both beautiful to look at and a pleasure to care for.