Whether you are choosing plants for a shaded portion of your yard or deciding how much water to give an indoor Christmas cactus, you must think about the requirements of those plants. Where you place a plant, how much water you give, and temperature of the surrounding environment are all components of good plant health. When selecting plants for outdoors or indoors, you must consider these plant growth factors.
Amount of Light
One of the most important plant growth factors is the amount of light the plant must receive. Shasta daisies thrive in full sun locations while ferns and lily-of-the-valley prefer shaded areas of the yard. Indoors, some plants like philodendrons do better in low or filtered light and others grow best in sunny windows. African violets are fine in medium or filtered light and the sun-loving aloe plant flourishes in windows with a southern or western exposure. If a plant does not have enough light it may not flower even though it has healthy-looking leaves. It will either grow slowly or appear weak and spindly. If the plant has too much light, it may drop its leaves.
Amount of Water
Some outdoor plants require almost boggy soil and others are drought tolerant. Astilbes, hostas, and daylilies can be grown on soil that is kept consistently moist. Rudbeckia, or black-eyed daisy, and ground phlox can endure drought conditions. In the house, some plants can do without watering for longer periods of time than others. Jade plants do not require the amount of water that an azalea, which must have constantly moist but well-drained soil, does. Giving too little or too much water will make your plants grow sluggishly or appear droopy or shriveled. With overwatering, the stem base may become spongy or limp, and green algae may even grow on the soil surface. The way to know if you are overwatering or underwatering is by the appearance of the leaves. If the leaves are yellowing or unnaturally pale green, you are giving too much water. If the leaves are parched, crisp, and brown, you are giving too little water. In either case, the affected leaves may fall.
Temperature and Humidity
Temperature and humidity are two very important plant growth factors. With outdoor plants, the gardener should know the hardiness zone of his area. He should not try to grow a Zone 5 shrub in a Zone 2 region. Indoors, temperatures are just as important for plants. If the house temperature is too hot or too cold, the plant may wilt or drop its buds. A plant kept in too cool of conditions may have healthy leaves but fail to flower. The leaves may even turn bronze or unnatural red. Plants in a drafty location will experience both leaves and buds falling. An environment which is too dry will cause plants to have leaves that are brittle or brown around the edges.
Paying attention to these and other plant growth factors like too much or too little of certain nutrients and disease or insect attacks will keep your plants lush, healthy, and pleasing to the eye.