General plant care

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When growing a plant it is very important to take into account its place of origin.

If a plant comes from a desert climate, it will surely not tolerate large amounts of water: excess moisture in the substrate would cause rot, which would quickly spread to all parts of the plant.

If a plant is of tropical origin, the temperatures it will tolerate will always be moderate, and therefore it cannot be planted in a garden with a continental climate, unless there is a place to protect it during the cold, such as a greenhouse (in this In this case, it will have to be grown in a pot, to be able to move it).

The light they need

Both indoors and outdoors, plants need light in order to photosynthesize. But not all plants support the same intensity of light: some need indirect light, others a dim light and some require more light intensity to be able to correctly elaborate the substances they need for their growth.

Thus, ferns need a softer light; conversely, many flowering plants need more light to form flowers.

The ideal temperature for growing

The appropriate ambient temperature for optimal development varies according to the species.

Indoor plants do well with daytime temperatures of 20-24ºC and 18-20ºC at night, since most are of tropical origin.
This type of plant cannot be exposed to sudden changes in temperature, and therefore should not be placed near a window in winter or outdoors, since temperatures of 8-10ºC would cause serious injuries. For this same reason also, when the outside temperatures are low, it will be necessary to irrigate with warm water, which is around 20ºC.

With regard to outdoor plants, in continental climates they will lose their leaves or go into a dormant period during winter due to low temperatures, but during the following spring they will sprout and grow again.

The necessary irrigation water

The amount of irrigation water will depend on the characteristics of the species.

The land must never dry out completely between one watering and another, except that of cacti and succulents, and that of species in a dormant period.

Most plants require moist soil, but without puddles; For this, the substrate must contain aerating elements to allow air circulation, such as perlite, sand, expanded clay or coarse elements.

Watering the plants

When to transplant

Plants grown in pots should be changed to a larger pot after two or three years.

If the roots of the plant come to the surface, they will have to be transplanted to a larger container or a location in the garden can be found. To remove the plant from the pot, it is held very well by the stem, and the pot is given a sharp blow from top to bottom: the root clod will come off without difficulty.

Plants that are grown in pots can be transplanted at any time of the year, since the roots do not suffer as they are protected by the root ball.

However, biological cycles must be taken into account; When a plant is in full bloom or beginning to re-sprout, the transplant can be very damaging, and it can even interrupt its vegetative cycle, suffering a delay in growth during that season.

Planting in the garden

Preparing the substrate

At the time of transplanting, it will be necessary to supply the plant with a new soil that provides it with the nutrients and minerals that it has already used up in the previous container.

A substrate that guarantees good results can be prepared by mixing 1/3 of garden soil (it provides structure), 1/3 of peat (due to its moisture retention capacity) and, finally, 1/3 of river sand (to keep the substrate aerated).

There are species that need the addition of limestone in small quantities, depending on whether they require a more neutral or alkaline substrate.

When to add compost

When we observe that the plants do not grow or do so very slowly, that the leaves are born small or that the flowers are scarce, it will be convenient that we begin to apply some fertilizer.

In winter, organic fertilizers such as manure or compost will be more suitable, and during the vegetative period mineral or organic fertilizers such as guano.

The bottom fertilizers are incorporated before planting, while the substrate is being prepared, so that once the plants are rooted they grow with more force; These fertilizers are usually rich in phosphorus.

Once the plant has taken root, when it is in a growth period, nitrogen-rich fertilizers will be applied (which can be granular or liquid), so that the plant grows vigorously.
This type of nitrogen-rich compost will be applied several times as the plant grows.

To favor the appearance of flowers, you should use a fertilizer with a good potassium content.

Controlled release fertilizers are those whose nutrients are released gradually (from three to nine months).
They are easy to apply, and guarantee plant nutrition for a long time. In addition, they avoid the problem of excess "burns" that sometimes occur with quick-release fertilizers. Quick-release fertilizers are released by dissolution in a very short time, leaving all their components immediately available to the plants; they are used when immediate results are required.

Fertilizing the plants

Identifying mineral deficiencies

When the leaves of a plant change color, it is possibly due to a lack of one of the essential minerals (iron, potassium, nitrogen and magnesium).

Lack of minerals

Leaves affected by mineral deficiencies:

a) iron deficiency;

b) phosphorus deficiency;

c) nitrogen deficiency;

d) magnesium deficiency.

Shrub pruning

The pruning of trees and shrubs should be done when the plant is in vegetative rest.
The delimbing is carried out on deciduous plants in the resting phase that you want to rejuvenate and make them have more fair proportions.
The aerial part is suppressed, to favor new branches.

Formation pruning consists of giving the tree or shrub a certain size and a precise shape.

Plant pruning

The entry General plant care was first published in Garden Flowers.

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