If you find that your home is becoming a bit bland even with all that good décor and furniture around, perhaps it’s time to try your hand at indoor plants. Yes, not everyone is a green thumb, but caring for indoor plants isn’t computer science, and even those who have never planted anything in their life will find the caring for indoor plants to be fulfilling and may even treat it later like a hobby. Of course, indoor plants aren’t like outdoor plants that you can just plant and forget and water with a hose maybe every other day. It goes just a little beyond that.
Indoor plants can add color, texture, and warmth to any home of any size. They allow year-round access to gardening and can even improve the air quality of the house. Many houseplants are easy to grow, but they must be given an appropriate and proper care to thrive well. Do take note where you got your plant – whether they were grown in a greenhouse, you got them from a farm, or you asked them from your brother’s garden – moving the plants into your home takes a bit of adjustment on the part of the plants.
Indoor plants are also great for creating a more welcoming atmosphere to your house. Other than being a colorful decoration, indoor plants can also purify the air in the home, improve your health, and help increase your focus. By providing your plant with a good environment and the correct amount of water and nutrients, you can make sure that your indoor plant stays alive and healthy.
The first thing to consider when selecting a houseplant is where you want to put it. After this you need to match the space and lighting with the plant’s requirements, so do research on the type of plant you got. Also, take note of the spaces in the house where the plants might be placed such as that big spot by a sunny window or a small space in the living room with moderate light. Here are some suggestions for plant types:
Flowering Plants that Can Stand Direct Sunlight
- African daisy (Arctotis)
- Purple fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum ‘Rubrum’)
- Tuberous Begonia
Flowering Plants that Need Lots of Shade
Colorful Foliage Plants for Both Sun or Shade
- Caladium (shade)
- Coleus (sun and shade, depending on variety)
- Phormium (full sun to part shade)
- Canna (full sun to part shade)
- Ferns (various types, filtered sun to shade)
- Persian shield (Strobilanthes dyerianus, full sun to part shade)
- Ornamental sweet potato vine (Ipomoea batatas, full sun to part shade)
- Ornamental grass (various types, full sun)
Flowering Plants for Both Sun and Shade
- Twinspur (Diascia, full sun or part shade)
- Mini Petunia (Calibrachoa, full sun or part shade)
- Nemesia (full sun or part shade)
- Scaevola (full sun or part shade)
- Salvia (Salvia guaranitica, full sun or part shade)
The type of indoor plant you have will also determine how you clean it. Deadheading, or the pinching or cutting off faded blooms is essential to indoor plant care. It encourages a plant to keep producing more flowers, stems, and leaves.
Some plants have so many tiny flowers and stems so it might be too time-consuming to snip or pick off individual flower heads. For those types of flowering plants, it’s best to shear the whole plant back to about one-third of its size. For about a week it will look like something that illegal loggers went through, but you will soon be rewarded with a flush of new buds and blooms.
Some flowering plants are “self-cleaning,” and this means that they don’t generally require deadheading or shearing. These are also plants that are prolific bloomers covered in smallish flowers that will just shrivel up and disappear on their own. Some examples are impatiens, mini petunias, diascia, and browalia. If they start to flag late in the summer, cut back the plant by one-third to rejuvenate blooming.
Watering that is Consistent
Keep potting soil only moist, not completely wet. Again, remember that watering indoor plants isn’t just bringing in a hose and watering them. If your soil is too dry or over watered, it can damage the roots of the plants and prevent the plant from growing. In both cases, not properly watering or over watering your plant will definitely kill it. Plants with lush and thick leaves require more water than plants with waxy or leathery leaves. Although the most basic rule for watering indoor plants is once a week, there is no specific frequency that works for ALL indoor plants. Instead, what you must do is to determine what kind of plant you have and follow its guidelines on how often to water it by doing research on the specific type that you have. Always keep the soil moist, so test out the soil:
- If mold starts to form on the surface of the soil or there’s standing water at the bottom of the container, you’re overwatering your plant.
- Water your plant if the soil becomes lighter in color or cracked. However, don’t ever wait for this to happen as some plants will die out quickly if the soil is dry, parched, and cracked.
- Plants in the succulent family require periods of dryness between watering. Check on this with specific research.
- If you notice standing water in or under the pot, empty it out so your plant is not sitting in it. Standing water can kill plants.
You can check how moist the soil is by sticking your finger in the soil to determine how wet it is below the surface. If you can poke your finger into the soil up to the knuckle, you can feel if your plant needs more water. If the soil feels damp, then you don’t need to water it. If it feels dry then it’s likely you need to water it. Of course, this will vary from plant to plant. These conditions will work for most plants, but not all of them. Signs of over watering the plant include discolored leaves, lack of leaf growth, loss of leaves, and soft rotten patches. But if you don’t water your plants, signs of dehydration will follow that include slow leaf growth, brown and dried leaf edges, and lower leaves becoming yellow and curled.
Proper water should be at room temperature. Water that is 68°F or 20°C is the best temperature to keep for watering your plants. You can use a thermometer to determine the temperature of the water, or you can leave the water out, after you pour it, and allow it to adjust to room temperature. This is often called lukewarm water. If your water is too hot it can cause root damage and plant shock, and will definitely kill your indoor plant. Water that is cold causes dormancy in your plant, which will stifle any existing and future vegetation and will not grow properly, perhaps even dying. If you’re not sure about the water temperature especially when the water has been taken from a faucet outside the home, you can purchase a hand-held moisture meter in plant stores or online to help check the temperature of the water.
Plants Requiring More Water (at least twice or three times a week)
- Actively growing plants
- Flowering plants
- Large-leaf or thin-leaf plants
- Plants grown in small pots
- Plants located in direct sunlight
- Plants potted in clay pots
- Plants that are native to wet areas
Plants Requiring Less Water (at least once a week)
- A plant located in a cool room
- Plants grown in a water retentive mix
- Plants grown in high humidity
- Plants potted in non-porous containers
- Plants with thick or rubbery leaves
- Recently repotted plant
- Resting or dormant plants
Select a pot with good drainage. The amount of drainage in the pot you’re keeping your plant in is very important because over or under watering your plant can damage and kill it. Make sure that there are at least four drainage holes at the bottom of your pot.
Take note that not all plant pots are created equal; materials like plastic, metal, and glass will absorb much less water than ceramic or clay. Make sure that there are holes in the bottom of the pot so that the water can drain. Some pots have a single large hole in the center of the pot, but this is only good for certain types of plants only. The best pot is still one with three or four small drainage holes. If you are using a cachepot that has no holes, water will build up and kill your plant.
It’s not hard to spot if your indoor house plants are not getting enough light. You will spot pale and small leaves, slow weak growth with long gaps in between leaves and lower leaves yellowing and dropping off. But if your plant is getting too much light or is not made to tolerate direct sunlight, you will spot washed out leaves, brown scorch marks on exposed leaves, shriveled out and dry leaves, and a dead crispy plant.
How much light does a plant need? Light is plant food that enables photosynthesis (light+water+carbon dioxide into sugars and oxygen) and that this is one of the most important factors in getting your indoor plants to thrive. Again, remember that the environments the plants came from may differ a lot from your home environment, therefore, every plant has slightly different light requirements. Some plants can be quite fussy while others will grow just about anywhere even with direct sun. As a very general rule, flowering plants need a small amount of direct sun, foliage plants don’t like any direct sun and will survive in less light, variegated plants will need more light or the variegation will fade, and cacti and succulents need lots of light. Also, do remember that most interior palms hate the direct sun and have nothing in common with cacti or sun-loving palms.
Make sure your plant gets adequate sunlight in the house. But all plants do require sunlight in order to undergo photosynthesis. It is the quality, duration, and intensity of light that affects a plant’s growth. However, for indoor plants, avoid putting the plant in direct sunlight. Instead, give them plenty of indirect light by putting them in a well-lit room. Fluorescent lights can work as an alternative to sunlight for some plants.
- Give flowering plants 12-16 hours of light per day
- Give foliage plants 14-16 hours of light per day
You can also use the time proven method of taking your indoor plants out of the house at least once a week and give them around an hour of direct sunlight. The best sunlight for this is sunlight during the morning hours.
Don’t Move Your Plants Around So Much
Plants will acclimate themselves to their surroundings and environment very slowly from the time you place them in a certain area in the house. It is best that you don’t move them around a lot. This also includes putting the plant in an area where there would be a drastic change in temperature. For instance, moving a plant suddenly from a darker area to a sun-rich area will have a negative effect on the plant. If you want to move the plant, take it to the new area for an hour a day. Slowly increase the amount of time it is left in the new area until it has fully adjusted.
Never Throw Tea, Coffee, or Other Drinks into your Houseplant
Throwing coffee, tea, sugary drinks, and even liquor and wine into your potted plant will draw insects and other pests that can eat away at your indoor plant. Sugars make it a perfect breeding ground for these pests as well. It isn’t true that coffee grounds are good for plants because plants have a low acidic tolerance.