Indoor plants add colour, texture and warmth to the home. They also provide year long-access to gardening.
A lot of gardeners will tell you they find it easier to grow a beautiful bed of geraniums or a small crop of vegetables than to keep house plants alive. Keeping indoor plants can be very disheartening as one day they can seem fine and the next they are losing leaves or infected with nasty pests. Most household plants are started in greenhouses – grown in ideal conditions – so moving them into your home involves adjustments for them.
Indoor plants add colour, texture and warmth to the home. They also provide year long-access to gardening. A lot of gardeners will tell you they find it easier to grow a beautiful bed of geraniums or a small crop of vegetables than to keep house plants alive. Keeping indoor plants can be very disheartening as one day they can seem fine and the next they are losing leaves or infected with nasty pests. Most household plants are started in greenhouses – grown in ideal conditions – so moving them into your home involves adjustments for them.
That being said, it’s not actually that difficult to successfully grow house plants. You just need to keep them happy by paying attention to their basic needs and nip any pest problems in the bud immediately.
The trick with caring for indoor plants is to try to mimic the environment they originally came from as much as possible. Tropical plants thrive in warm, humid environments, while cacti and succulents prefer hot, dry environments. Obviously your home can’t be adapted to suit every plant, but it is useful to be aware of the plant’s needs when selecting plants.
The first thing to consider when choosing an indoor plant is where you intend to put it. Then you can match the space and lighting to the plant’s needs. Then you need to decide if you want a plant with luscious green leaves or would rather a plant with beautiful flowers. Some flowering houseplants are seasonal while others are perennial. Another factor which should be taken into account when selecting houseplants is how much time can you devote to the plant. Some plants can survive with very little care – or even neglect – for example, a spider plant. While other plants – such as orchids – require a lot of TLC.
Indoor plants require consistent water. Extreme conditions such as drought and flood really stress out the plant’s root system. Most plants like having their roots consistently moist, but not wet. Some plants – for example succulents and other thick leaved plants – thrive best when the soil dries out a bit between waterings. For new plants, check the care label or consult a good indoor plant book. This will help you establish an appropriate watering routine. It is important to provide plants with just the right amount of water as if the soil is kept too dry or too damp the plant’s roots will begin to die, which can lead to impaired growth or can even cause the plant to die.
Self-watering planters make it easier to keep plants watered. Plants can be watered from the top down or bottom up. When watering from the top, try not to wet the foliage, while ensuring the entire soil mass is moistened. Water should be coming out of the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot. Do not let the plant get to the stage where they are wilting or the soil is pulling away from the edge of the container. This means the plant is dehydrated and is already seriously stressed and the roots may be damaged. Signs of underwatering are premature dropping of flowers or leaves, slow leaf growth, translucent leaves and brown, yellow or curled leaf edges. Take immediate action if your plants present any of these symptoms. However, be careful not to get carried away as too much water is just as detrimental to the plant as too little.
Frequent watering forces air out of the soil and welcomes for root-killing bacteria and fungus to move in. Symptoms of overwatering include fungus or mould on the soil surface, mushy brown roots at the bottom of the pot, standing water in the bottom of the container, young and old leaves falling off at the same time and leaves with brown rotten patches. Overwatering is the number one killer of indoor plants.
Every plant has different light requirements. Many plants like direct sunlight, but this can be difficult to achieve inside a house. Placing your plant on a window sill may provide it with enough light, but some houseplants will require supplementing from a grow light.
Every time a plant is watered nutrients leach out of the soil. Even if leaching didn’t occur, plants would quickly deplete the nutrients in their soil. Newly purchases plants have been heavily fertilised in the greenhouse and can wait a few weeks before getting started on a fertiliser. It is recommended that you fertilise houseplants once a month when they are flowering or growing. During the winter, when plants are dormant or generally not growing much, there is no need to fertilise.
Choose an organic fertiliser to houseplants and read the instructions carefully. In general, plants grown in low light will not require as much fertiliser as plants grown outside or in bright light.
Growing indoor plants may seem intimidating, but if you follow these guidelines and pay close attention to your plants it really isn’t that difficult at all.