Nothing is more attractive and cheerful than a room filled with healthy green houseplants. They offer aesthetics to the interior of our homes, improve indoor air quality, and often provide emotional satisfaction to the caregiver in getting the plant to bloom or produce new growth.
Aside from the aesthetic value plants provide your home with, there are also health benefits - grade school science class tells us that plants cleanse the air through utilizing the carbon dioxide and producing more oxygen. Here is some important information on how to care for your indoor plants to gain the optimum health and aesthetic benefits.
Top 10 Indoor Gardening Tips
1. Plants will "reach" toward a light source, so rotate your plant occasionally to promote straight growth.
2. Pay attention to the lighting requirements for your indoor plants. If your plant isn't getting enough light it will appear "thin and leggy" looking. You can alleviate this problem by only buying plants appropriate for the light already in your home, or by providing an additional light source(artificial lighting). Buying plants that need medium to low light are a "safe bet" for most homes. Think before you buy!
Helpful Hint: Indoor plants can be placed outside during the warm summer months.
3. Use room temperature water when watering your indoor plants. Soak thoroughly but make sure plants aren't allowed to sit in water as this can cause the roots to rot, proper drainage will alleviate this. Different plants have different watering needs but you can use this jingle to help you remember the basics.....
"Too dry, plant will die Water fills pot, roots will rot!" Candee Stark
When picking a container/pot for your house plants, make sure it will drain properly. I know what you are probably thinking...many pots are sold without drainage holes! If you find one that you are absolutely in love with drill a hole in the bottom of the container, otherwise your plant will almost certainly die. Without a drainage hole, water collects in the pot and causes damage to the roots. If this isn't an option you can double pot your plant.
4. Give your plants a bath! Just like children, plants need to be hosed down to rid them of dirt, dust, and grime. It is highly recommended to bath your kids daily but your plants only need it occasionally! Place your plant in your kitchen sink or bathtub and use the spray attachment to gently rinse it off. Use lukewarm water and allow your plant to air dry before returning it to its regular location
5. Plants improve the quality of household air but remember plants can suffer if kept in air that is always smoky, stagnate or overly dry. Do yourself and your plants a favor by opening the windows and allowing fresh air to come into the house at least several times a week.
6. As with humans, most house plants do well in a daytime temperature range of 65-75 and ten degrees lower at night. Pay attention to your plant, if it isn't looking well a change in temperature might be all it needs to get back on the right track.
Helpful Hint: Don't overheat your house, your plants will thank you!
7. Keep the care tag for each plant you buy. This way you will remember the name of the plant and what type of individual care it needs to stay healthy. I have made this mistake many, many times thinking I would remember how to take care of the plant and after a few months I couldn't even remember the name of the plant!
Helpful Hint: Buy yourself a small spiral notebook and tape your care tags inside. Also include: purchase date, fertilizer dates, and the dates that you have repotted. Your plants will thrive because of it!
8. Your indoor plants need to be "fed" often because vital nutrients are flushed out of the soil each time you water. You can opt to use a slow release fertilizer that is added to the soil or you can use a liquid fertilizer that is added in small amounts when you water your plant. Don't fertilize in winter, instead, fertilize regularly during growing and flowering stages. (March-October). Adding fertilizer to houseplants provides nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium that the plants need to enhance growth. Fertilizers are usually marked with a number such as 20-20-20. These numbers represent the percentages of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. A 20-20-20 mixture is good for green foliating plants. A 10-20-10 mixture is ideal for blooming plants. Be sure to carefully read the instructions on the fertilizer container because too much fertilizer can be harmful to plants.
Helpful Hint: If you find it hard to remember when you last fertilized, write yourself a quick reminder on your calendar for when to do it next. This isn't an exact science but your plants will tell you if you are fertilizing too much by having burned or dried leaves, fertilize less frequently if you notice this.
9. When growing plants indoors in containers, do not use soil from the garden as it does not yield good results. Outdoor soil can contain insects, weeds, and disease-causing organisms that can actually harm other healthy plants already living indoors. Additionally, outdoor soils become compacted when put into small containers. This will lead to problems with the plant's roots and might also impede drainage. Use a good potting soil mixture. Good potting soil mixture provides the houseplant with nutrients, adequate drainage, and proper aeration. Most potting soil mixtures contain a combination of dirt, peat moss, and perlite or vermiculite. A good potting soil mixture can usually be purchased wherever potted and garden plants are sold.
10. We all need room to grow and plants do too! When you notice that roots are coming out of the drainage hole or seem thick and/ or matted, it is time to repot your plant. Proper pot size is an important fact to consider. A pot that is too small may halt a plant's growth while a pot that is too large may cause root disease because of the excess moisture retained in the soil. Generally a pot can stay in the same pot for about two years. Porous pots (usually clay) provide better aeration because air passes laterally through the sides of the pot. Non-porous pots (glazed or plastic) tend to hold moisture for a longer period of time and can restrict airflow. Be sure all pots have drainage holes. If a pot does not have adequate drainage the plant may end up with root rot. A substitute drainage mechanism can be made for pots without drainage holes by placing clay shards or pebbles in the bottom of the pot before filling it with soil. This will allow the excess water to pool in the bottom of the pot instead of the soil.
By following this advice you will add more enjoyment to your indoor garden, while reducing the work required to make it grow.