Gardeners' World: How to care for houseplants
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Whether you’re a long-time green-thumbed houseplant lover or a first-time plant parent, getting to grips with indoor gardening can be difficult. Most houseplants have their own unique set of care instructions, with some preferring more light than others. However, regardless of the species of plant you have, gardening experts at Hunker have shared that using cat litter can really help your plants when it comes to drainage.
The indoor plant experts said: “Kitty litter can provide an element some houseplants really, really need to thrive by assisting with drainage.
“Houseplants including succulents and bulb plants will die if they sit for too long in water-soaked soil.”
Gardeners should keep in mind that well-draining soil doesn’t just let excess water pass through.
In order to be effective, the soil has to create air spaces that give the plant roots oxygen.
The experts continued: “The right kitty litter retains water enough to prevent the plant from drying out but also provides the requisite aeration and drainage.
“Mixing kitty litter with potting soil and horticultural grit makes these plants green and happy.”
Here are a few ways to use cat litter on indoor plants to ensure they “thrive”.
These plants look and act like succulents, with palm-size leaves in perfect heart shapes.
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Most are sold as one leaf in a container, but in time it will grow into a vine filled with these waxy Valentine leaves.
When you are shopping for clay-based cat litter, pick a low-dust variety with a mineral base.
Ponytail palm tree
These houseplants only get to four feet tall, but it looks like a tree with its thick “trunk” tapering off on top, and ribbony leaves growing to three feet long from the “canopy.”
The plant experts advised against buying just any old cat litter to use in the soil.
They said: “Today, you can find kitty litter made of any number of products, some of which are not appropriate for soil.
“Use only kitty litter made from calcined clay, a substance made from clay fired in a furnace.
“This helps the clay to remain absorbent but makes it slow to break down.”
Aloe vera is an attractive trunkless succulent that doubles as a medicinal plant.
Known for its drought resistance, gardeners swear that it thrives on neglect.
For plants that don’t need many nutrients and really hate wet feet like aloe vera, change the soil mix to one part cat litter with one part loam-based potting soil and one part horticultural grit.
It’s the cat litter that holds moisture enough to keep the roots happy, but if the roots want less, use less.
Bulb plants – like daffodils, hyacinths, and lilies – are the joy of the spring garden, but they can also be wonderful spring houseplants.
The experts said: “Kitty litter is a great bulb plant soil since it provides the conditions the plants need to thrive: well-draining soil that allows excess water to exit, but holds enough to keep the bulb from drying out, and sufficient air pockets for oxygen.”
They advised using lightweight non-clumping litter.
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