Guide to Growing Plants IndoorsGuide to Growing Plants Indoors
Much of nature’s beauty has been replaced by urban sprawl, billboards, and indoor activities. Today, the majority of people stay indoors as much as 90% of their lives! Indoor plants are one way to incorporate a sense of nature’s scenery into our current lifestyles. Indoor plants make us feel great, freshen the air, and provide a hobby activity and member of the family can become involved.
Indoor plants help remove carbon dioxide from the air, just as we breathe in oxygen. Plants exhale oxygen, just as humans exhale carbon dioxide. As you can see, we need to live together. Leaves of indoor plants trap pollution, and particles. Even chemicals which you’ve heard called “out-gassing” from plastics and other materials are trapped by interior plants in offices and houses.
Growth Factors for Indoor Plants
It’s easy to garden indoors. You just need to know how the environment inside is different than outdoors and compensate through smart cultivation practices. These include light, temperature, humidity, nutrition, soil, and water.
Light: Light becomes plant nutrition. Photographers measure light with technical tools but the gardener can measure light well enough with how much shade is present during parts of the day. Low light, medium light, brightly lit and direct sun areas are generally enough light description for all but the most sensitive plants to thrive. To qualify as direct sun, there should four hours of sunshine or more directly on the plants in that area.
Light changes with time of year, reflections, window dressings, roof overhangs so check periodically. Pick plants based on the labeled light requirements and your home lighting. If you need to place a plant that needs a lot of light in a lower light area, supplements with artificial lighting made especially for lighting plants with rays in the full spectrum of the sun. Longer light periods can make up for lower light levels but too much light can be as harmful, too, causing yellow or bleached-looking leaves which soon die.
Temperature: The temperature inside your home makes a difference whether plants thrive. Humans like 72-82 degrees Fahrenheit. Most plants interior plants like 58-86 degrees F. Combining light with temperature, your plants breathe and create nutrition via photosynthesis.
Low light causes too little nutrition to build and high temperature may fight absorption. Too much or too little or a wrong combination can result in plant failure. Adjust light and temperature, using a guideline between 50 degrees F and 90 F. Chances are if you are comfy, so are your plants.
Humidity: Moisture in the air is called humidity and it should be no less than 20% to above 50%. Greenhouses maintain 50+% humidity and often plants relocated enter a 20% humidity – or less – environment.
Of course, they suffer; they come from the rain forest! Keep humidity high with moisture sources like pans of water located near plants or use of a humidifier.
Water: Watering is nearly an art; too much drowns roots while too little stunts growth. Combined with light, temperature, and humidity, water keeps plants healthy depending on what type, size, growing medium, light, and container is involved. The native conditions for a species can range from arid cacti to truly water-loving plants.
Overwatering can cause salt build up around soil and container edges damaging roots and stunting growth but a good drenching to wash salt accumulated is needed periodically. Drainage is crucial for indoor plant health; discard water drained from soil into container saucer or tray.
To determine when to water, poke your finger into the soil along the edge of the container about one-inch. If it feels at that depth, don’t want. If it feels dry, it’s time to water. You can buy techie devices which check for you if you want.
Some species of plants, the Corn Plant or Ti Cane and others, can suffer if their water is high in fluorine or chlorine. Just draw water and it let stand for a few days and water along the outside edge of these plant’s pots. Fluorine damage can include leaf scorching.
Nutrition: All nutrition which doesn’t come from the contents of the soil are provided with fertilizer. So often gardeners use too much and this forms the salts mentioned above. It can burn the roots and become a crust-like collection on the edge of the container. Find out if your plant species need heavy or light feeding, consider how much light it gets and how much growing medium is in the container.
The less light, the less fertilizer needed; the large difference in the growing medium can require more. You can be sure the plants just purchased do not need any supplemental fertilizer right away. Like cookbooks, there are lots of recipes for mixing soil for different plants. Generally, a good sterile houseplant mix from your local garden center will work just fine.
Grooming and Repotting
You want your interior plants to look neat and groomed. This means that you’ll need to prune, groom, clean and periodically repot.
Pruning should be done during growing periods and very lightly for indoor plants. Use caution during repotting but prune away any clearly rotting or dead room.
Clean out the leaves of foliage plants to remove dust and debris. Remove dead or seriously yellowed leaves. Some plants, such as bromeliads, can be wiped with a damp sponge or soft, lint-free cloth. If the plant has smaller foliage, you can simply dust it with a gentle shake or clean feather duster. If the leaves are hairy, such as African violets and cacti, don’t wet them at all but use a clean paint or makeup brush to dust them very gently. Remove dead blossoms from blooming plants. If you’ve had a fluoride problem and large, wide leaves are yellow on the tips, trim them just into the healthy area.
Repot after a long growing period when the plant is thriving. If roots are showing outside the container, except in the case of orchids, then repotting is in order; orchids should be reviewed with the fact that they hold themselves in place with roots. If it’s become top-heavy, it’s time to repot.
Interior Plant Pests
Some time or another, you may have pests attack plants. A disease can appear when indoor growth factors become too great.
Mealybugs are the most common indoor plant pest and they appear as scales on leaves and stems, making the plant fungus-susceptible to soot mold. Found on the stem/leaf joint and other locations, these soft-bodied insects wreak havoc on plants if controlled.
Aphids are also soft-bodied, but green, blue, brown, pink, yellow or even black in color. They infest the underside of new leaves causing deformed leaves, buds and blooms.
Spider mites are common and the female is nearly invisible to the naked eye. Infestations cause gray or yellow speckling on young leaf undersides. Called “spider” for a reason, you’ll see webs form in hot, dry periods.
Thrips are not as common except on plants brought in and out of the home such as patio displays wintering indoors. Very small brown or black insects with lighter markings eat shoot tips, blossoms, and leaves. The infested areas can become whitish or appear silvery.
Pest Prevention and Cure: Prevent rather than cure by buying pest-free specimens. Remove mealybugs and aphids with cotton swabs and isopropyl alcohol. Avoid bringing even beneficial insects indoors because these non-pests die inside.
Insecticidal soap is available and can be used on well-adjusted interior plants. New plants can be damaged by the strong soap. Follow label instructions on mixing this type of soap.
Disease attacks weakened or new plants, like virus or bacteria in favorable environments. Dropping water on leaves causes leaf scald. Spots with patterns are more likely disease; spores may appear on leaf bottoms. Soft spots and wilting can be bacterial-caused. The virus causes distortion, stunted growth, and discoloration. Pathogens can arrive in soil; use only top-quality soil for your interior plants.
We have also started work on an organic vegetable guide that so you can also grow vegetables inside the house. We will be updating this vegetable guide over the next few days so be sure to bookmark it.