Here are a few useful guidelines to help you start growing plants in your home:

Position plants carefully
Choose plants that suit the environment, since even the most dedicated gardener can’t make a sun-loving plant thrive in a cold, shady area. So, ensure that your plants are suited to the light levels and temperature of the room in which they’ll be positioned.

Try to avoid direct sun
Windowsills in direct sunlight will be too hot for most house plants. Also, don’t place house plants over direct sources of heat, such as radiators.

Avoid shady areas
Ensure there is sufficient light for your house plants to photosynthesize effectively.

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Indoor plants can offer some much-needed contact with nature

Avoid temperature extremes
Keep delicate plants away from drafts, since these will decrease humidity levels.

Pot on regularly
Aim to repot your house plants into larger pots every two years or so. This will ensure that they are not stressed and will thrive.

Be well equipped
Use the proper tools for indoor gardening. A longspouted watering can and a mister to increase humidity are both essential for reducing dust levels, as well as dealing with pest and disease outbreaks. A long-handled fork and a pair of scissors are great for accessing difficult areas, while a sponge attached to a long handle will keep glass containers clean.

Water wisely
Don’t overwater house plants; adding some drainage material at the bottom of the pot will help to keep roots aerated and ensure that they don’t drown.

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Choose plants that will thrive for longer if you want a year-round display

Winter dormancy
Allow house plants to rest during the winter period and move them to a cooler position. This is because most plants are dormant at this time, and so don’t need as much sunlight. You should also reduce the amount of water and food you provide, as this can help to prevent diseases such as mould and root rot. Move plants away from windows, because these areas will be too cold in the winter.

Be vigilant
Learn to recognise potential problems early on, before a pest infestation or other physiological problem kills off your plant. For example, danger signs for low air humidity include flower buds falling off, leaves withering, and leaves with brown tips. Signs of high humidity include mould, rot, and soft growth.

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Getting the right amount of sunlight is important when growing indoor plants

Think long-term
Some popular house plant gifts only have a short growing period, so choose plants that will thrive for longer if you want a year-round display.

This is an edited extract from House Plants by Isabelle Palmer, published by CICO Books (RRP $39.99) and is available in stores nationally.

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