IT’S ALWAYS EASIER (AND BETTER) TO PREVENT THE disease than to cure the patient. That’s just as true for house plants as it is for people. Thousands of words have been written on plant diseases and blights; we can read books on insects and plant insect infestation, but the number of house plants that fall prey to these ills is infinitesimal when compared with the tremendous majority that die from neglect or from the gardener’s lack of knowledge of the habits of the plants themselves. This chapter has been written to give you a few guideposts on the road to good gardening. If you follow them you have a good chance of succeeding as an indoor gardener. You have a green thumb. Everybody has. We want to help you put it to work successfully.
By far the major cause of failure in the home garden is neglect. Plants need watering, pruning, a time in the sun, proper food and soil, and good living (potting) conditions. They must be provided with an atmosphere in which they can prosper, with a reasonable temperature, proper humidity and enough fresh air. By this we don’t mean to say that they must be watched constantly, petted and pampered; or even that all plants need daily attention. There are some species of cactus and succulent and a number of foliage plants that demand no more than an occasional watering. Terrariums, as we will see in the chapter by that title, can sometimes be left for months with absolutely no care. However, most of the plants you are going to want to have in your home are going to have to get some degree of care. It is easy and inexpensive to give, and pays enormous dividend both in the looks and the lasting qualities of the plants in your garden.