MOST HOMES are not ideal for growing plants. Light is poor, temperatures too high and the air too dry. Foliage plants can endure that environment much better than the bloomers such as poinsettia, chrysanthemum, cyclamen, Christmas cactus and azalea.
However, by making a little effort and a few changes, the blooming plants can stay attractive for several days, perhaps a week or two or even longer.
Light is important because plants use light to procudce food. In general, the brighter the light, the more food produced and the more vigorous the plant. The plants not only respond to brightness or intensity of light but also to duration.
The ones that need the best light, even filtered sunlight, are the bloomers. They grow well near a south window but may place near an east or west window if they can get some filtered sunlight for two or three hours a day. No flowering plant should be kept in dim light for more than a short time if the flowers to stay attractive.
The best temperature for the bloomers is around 70 during the day and 55 to 60 at night. A plant can stand a much higher temperature during the day, and a plant growing in bright light can stand more heat than one in poor light. Some exceptions are African violet, gloxinia and poinsettia, which do better with a night temperature above 60 degrees F.
Temperature 10 or 15 degrees lower at night than during the day reduce food loss at night , intensify flower color and prolong bloom life.
Most blooming plants getting good light need to be watered every day or every two days. The plants should be checked once or twice daily because a slight change in the environment can call for a change in the watering schedule. Before watering, feel the soil. If it is slightly dry to the touch, water is needed.
One of the best ways to water is from the top, keeping the water off the foliage. Apply water until it comes out through drainage holes at the bottom. Wait about 20 minutes for excess water to drain and empty the saucer. The plants don't like continious wet feet.
As a rule it is safer to have the soil slightly dry than soggy wet, but not so dry that the plant wilts.
If there are no drainage holes in the pot, you'll have to guess how much water to apply. One way to help is to apply water, wait 15 minutes and then turn the pot on its side on the kitchen sink.