Growing houseplants or indoor plants is one of the most rewarding tasks that one can take up as a hobby. Besides creating a pleasant and warm environment in a house, indoor plants can give fresh air by cutting down the level of indoor air pollution. Placed beside a window or on a table, houseplants can add that long-cherished elegant and natural look to a house, that can be a treat to the eyes of the beholder.
But growing houseplants demands a lot of care and attention. Most of the indoor plants are native to the tropical regions, and so they prefer a humid environment and indirect sunlight. However, there are exceptions. For example, succulent plants require a dry climate to grow, while gardenia thrives on bright sunlight. So, it is important to understand the specific needs of the different plants, in order to create an environment that can resemble their natural habitat.
Maintenance of Indoor Plants
Good plant care begins with the selection of a place that can provide the ideal environment for its growth. Also important is to provide the right amount of water and light, and maintain the appropriate levels of temperature and humidity, in order to ensure the healthy growth of plants.
Light is one of the most important growth factors for any plant. As most of the indoor plants are native to the tropical areas, they grow well in indirect sunlight. Such plants can be placed close to a window with sheer curtains, so that they can receive enough filtered sunlight.
If you place them further away from the window, they will not receive adequate sunlight. However, you can take the help of artificial light sources for plants placed in dark rooms. For plants like gardenia, you have to choose a location that receives bright sunlight. If you observe growth only in one direction, then be sure to rotate the position of the plant at regular intervals. This would encourage more uniform growth.
One of the most common mistakes observed in indoor gardening is the tendency to overwater the houseplants, in an attempt to promote their rapid growth. But, this often causes the roots to rot. At the same time, under-watering can also cause the leaves to turn yellow and fall prematurely. The best way is to check the soil carefully before watering the plant. If the soil is still damp, then wait for another day or two, till the top soil dries out. But, if the soil is dry, then water the plant sufficiently. It is better to use well-drained soil so that it does not hold a large amount of water for a long time.
If the soil is heavy, then you can add some sand and perlite to make a good soil mixture. Otherwise, you can make a soil mixture by combining two parts of organic matter (like peat moss) with one part each of perlite and sand. Also, make sure that the container or pot used for growing the plant has the appropriate drainage system or drainage holes at the base, so that the excess water can flow out of it. For watering the plants, you can use rainwater or tap water. If you want to use tap water, then let the water sit for the whole night. The chlorine present in tap water can be harmful for your houseplants.
Maintaining the appropriate level of humidity is also important. Tropical plants usually require a high level of humidity, as compared to other houseplants. So, you can place the plants close to each other, so that they can utilize the water or moisture evaporating from each other. You can also mist the leaves at regular intervals to provide them with adequate moisture.
The ideal range of temperature for growing houseplants is 60 to 75°F. Most of the indoor plants can tolerate slight fluctuations in the temperature. But excessive temperature fluctuations can inhibit their growth. Therefore, they need to be protected from cold drafts, as well as from excessive heat. They should not be placed near warm appliances. Most of the houseplants usually prefer a night temperature that is slightly lower than the day temperature.
The growers of houseplants can face a different set of problems during winter. It is the dormant period for most of the plants, for which they limit their new growths and enter a resting period. During this dormant phase, it is important to reduce the frequency of watering, and protect the plants from cold air. So, be sure to place them away from doors.
In winter, the humidity level drops significantly. A humidifier can however, easily resolve this issue. The winter is usually not the ideal time for fertilization. As far as lighting conditions are concerned, this period is characterized by only 8 hours of sunlight a day. So, it is very important to place the indoor plants in those areas, which receive adequate sunlight. For example, a window facing the west or south can be ideal for keeping an indoor plant during this period.
Apart from these, one should also prune the plants from time to time to remove the diseased and damaged branches and leaves, and also to maintain the desired shape. It is important to understand that each plant is unique, and hence has different requirements. So, before growing any indoor plant, do some research to learn more about its specific needs.