So why do so many of us enjoy owning indoor plants? Is it because of our love of the outdoors? Is it because the demand of apartment living has swelled and we no longer have a backyard yet, we still crave nature? Or, is it because plants purify the air around us and the more oxygen indoors, the more relaxed and stress-reduced the environment becomes? Whatever the reason, the question is how do you successfully care for plants in the indoor environment?
We hope the following will answer some of your questions and have you well on your way to choosing the right plants for your indoor space and, learning how to care for them.
1. How to be a good plant owner
First up, we probably need to talk about the giant pink elephant in the room. We know you didn’t mean to do it, we know the shame has been haunting you for years, hasn’t it? You need to come clean with that little secret you’ve been hiding, the one that has scarred you from the joy of owning other plants. Whether it was from neglect or excessive attentiveness that brought on the early demise of your plant, you don’t need to be ashamed, most people have committed phytocide too.
If you’re keen to move forward from your previous plant assassinations, let House of Home help. First, you will need to be honest with yourself about what type of plant owner you wish to be; not everyone can be the Don Burke equivalent of indoor plant care. You need to be realistic with yourself and come clean about what type of indoor gardener you really are, because it will help you and your plants relationship in the future.
There are three types of indoor gardeners:
The Plant & Forget AKA 'The Dreamer'
You don’t have a great record for keeping plants alive. You purchase plants on a whim for mostly decorative purposes. You regularly forget to water, repot, fertilise, provide adequate sun exposure or you will usually abandon any plant to fend for itself. You like the idea of plants in your home and usually get carried away at markets or nurseries, and yet, the pot plants you’ve had previously, always tend to have died well before their due. Don’t worry we can help you.
The Amateur Green Thumb
You’ve got a small green thumb and are your journey to mastering the art of indoor plant care. You understand that different plants have different needs, which means you might own some advanced plants already or your herb garden is going strong. You’re also overly keen to learn as much as you can and your dream is to one day have a beautiful outdoor garden.
The Pro AKA My Friends Call Me Jamie
Your whole hand is green, in fact both your arms are green too. You nurture your plants as if they were your children, each one having its own needs, to which you tend to dutifully. You’ve probably got names for all your plants, or you’ve turned your second bedroom into a hydroponic garden or orchid greenhouse shrine.
2. Buy your pots first
Heading straight to the nursery to spend big might be a tempting idea, but it’s not the way to go. Let’s be frank, if you don’t already own a pot for your new plant to go in, you’re probably going to forget that you bought it. It will be shoved into the laundry sink or on a windowsill somewhere, where you’ll forget to water it. It’s the ‘The horse before the cart’ philosophy, so do your plants a massive favour and save them from starvation and neglect by buying your pots first.
3. Buy the right pots for you
This is a very important part, especially for renters, as buying the wrong pot can be detrimental to your property and your hip pocket. Before you buy a pot, you need to consider a few elements.
How long do you want your pot for? If you want something to last a while, lean towards terracotta, ceramic, concrete and stone pots, if you need something disposable go for plastic pots instead.
If you want to be able to rearrange you plants from time to time, choose pots of light weight material such as canvas, woven baskets, paper vessels or fiberglass as this will make it easier for you to change up your indoor garden.
If you tend to neglect watering your plants, or desire plants that are low maintenance, then self-water pots and containers are your best option. Self-watering containers, such as the ones produced by Glowpear, have built in reservoirs to provide your plants continuous access to water.
A popular way to kill off you plants is to drown them. Most plants need sufficient drainage, if you have a pot that you love, but it doesn’t have self-draining, you can always add stones to the bottom of your existing pot and sit it on a drip tray. The drip try will catch any excess water from the plant and will prevent mould and water ruining your carpet or flooring, while the stones, present the water from building up in the soil.
Old or New
If you’re after something different from a traditional pot or planter, consider repurposed containers. Items such as tin cans, teapots, light bulbs, and jars can easily be transformed into a succulent home. These are just a few of the endless list of potential repurposed vessels, just look around your home.
Centre of Gravity
If you have a pot with a wide base and a lower centre of gravity, it will be less likely to be knocked over by pets or children. If you already have a small pot you can increase its centre of gravity by placing it on a small stool, plant stand or on a shelf out of harm’s way.
The type of pot or vessel you choose will dictate which type of plant you will buy to fill it. If you have a hanging basket, you won’t be able to fit a large Palm in it, so just keep this in mind when picking pots. Once you have your container, simply measure the circumference of the opening and that will indicate what size plant you will need.
Below is a basic list of plant container types:
- Planter boxes and window boxes
- Hanging Baskets and hanging pots
- Plastic pots
- Terracotta, ceramic or concrete pots
- Self-watering pots
- Repurposed containers.
- Wall gardens
4. Choosing the right plant
One piece of vital information people generally forget about indoor gardening is that all plants are considered ‘outdoor plants’. There is no such thing as an actual ‘indoor plant’, there does however, exists plants that can withstand growing in enclosed sheltered environments. These plants are strong enough to able to withstand low lighting, fluctuations in temperature, humidity and frequent neglect better than others. Once you’ve identified whether you are a Dreamer, Amateur or Pro Indoor Gardener, the fun begins!
We’ve compiled a list of suggested plants that will suit each gardening architype.
Indoor Plant Suggestions:
Easy To Care For Plants:
These plants are hardy, drought tolerant and can withstand low level lighting and neglect.
- Air plants : Just give a good mist of water once a week
- Aloe: Water when soil is dry
- Bromeliad: Water only once a week
- Cacti varieties: Water once every 3 weeks
- Mint: Water once every 2 weeks
- Mother in laws tongue or snake plant: Water every 2 weeks
- Mushrooms: Grow in darkest cupboard, harvest after 4 weeks
- Philodendrons: Water once a week and keep roots dry between waters
- Pothos or Devils Ivy: Water once a week and keep away from pets
- Succulents varieties: Can survive in just water.
- Yuccas: Water once every two weeks and remember to strip dead leaves
- Zanzibar Gem: Hard to kill! Water once a month!
Moderate To Care For Plants:
These plants need a little more care, check the labels to make sure they have the correct light, humidity and water levels.
- Azalea: Never let plant dry out, fertilise every 2 weeks after blooming to re-bloom
- Bird of Paradise: Keep soil moist during spring and summer
- Ivy: Keep soil moist by watering regularly
- Peace Lily and Kaffir Lily: This plant will tell you when it needs something, when the leave wilt it will need water, when the leave dry up it will need sunlight.
- Potatoes: Grow in buckets or plastic sacks and water frequently
- Rubber Trees: Water every week
- String of pearls: Water once every 3 weeks and keep away from drafts, pets and children
Hard To Care For Plants:
These plants have very specific needs, so it’s best to do some research on how to best care for them before you bring one home with you.
- Catnip: Water constantly, good drainage required
- Ferns: Stag-horn, Maidenhair: Keep away from drafts, keep the soils moist but do not over water (self-watering pots are best)
- Ficus: Fiddle Leaf, Weeping ficus: Keep soil dry between watering, keep away from drafts, grow better in warmer temperatures. Try not to re-pot and keep leaves dust free
- Monstera Deliciosa: Water and wait until soil is slightly dry before watering again, and keep leaves clean of dust
- Orchids: Water every 5 to 12 days
- Palms: Areca, Bamboo palm, Lady palm: Soak soil and keep moist, but try not to over water
- Umbrella Trees: Keep soil moist by watering weekly
If your apartment or townhouse doesn’t have access to the outdoors, choose a spot that will give your plants the best chance of survival. Window boxes that hang on the outside of windows are great option but for those who can’t do that, then planter stands placeed near any source of natural light is best.
For a basic indoor gardening kit, you will need:
- Watering can
- Soil/Potting Mix
- Indoor plants
- Drip tray
What are the top four things your plants will need to survive?
- Dirt or Soil
Remember plants are living organisms that need a little TLC to survive! Just like your children and pets, plants require a constant supply of food, sunlight, water and air to grow successfully. If you’re unsure about whether a plant could survive in an area of your house, ask yourself if you would sit there all day by yourself. If the answer is no, then your plant probably wouldn’t like it either. Now you can prepare yourself for a brighter, healthier home. So get planting!