Everything You Need to Know About Looking After Indoor Plants

Everything You Need to Know About Looking After Indoor Plants

Gareth Roberts
22 minute read

Everything You Need to Know About Looking After Indoor Plants

Are you thinking about adding some indoor plants to your home or office? Here’s everything that you need to know about this possibility including the right way to ensure your indoor plants grow. 

Indoor plants will always be the perfect addition to any home or business. Aside from providing beautiful aesthetic benefits, indoor plants help keep the air clean. Research even suggests plants like this will keep people calm and happy as part of biophilic design. 

You just need to look after your indoor plants the right way. As with any type of plant life, indoor plants have a set list of requirements, including lighting, watering and soil. 

In this guide, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about maintaining your indoor plants and keeping them healthy. 

Let’s get started! 

Rubber Plant - Burgundy

Rubber Plant - Burgundy

$149.00

 

Choosing The Right Indoor Plant For You

The first step will be selecting the perfect indoor plant for your home or office. To do this, you must consider the environment the plant is going to be in including the level of natural light and the temperature. 

Do note that some indoor plants are easier to maintain than others. Certain plants are far fussier in terms of what they need and will require more of your attention to ensure that they grow beautifully. 

 

An example of a low maintenance plant would be Monstera Deliciosa. This beautiful choice only needs to be watered once a week and will benefit from quite a humid environment. They do need to be pruned quite regularly because without this you might have an issue with excessive growth.

In terms of lighting, these plants can grow just about anywhere, including in areas of low light. Though, direct sunlight should be avoided as the leaves will burn. 

Monstera Deliciosa

Monstera Deliciosa

$70.00

You could instead be interested in a fern for your home. Some ferns such as the Silver Rabbit’s Foot fern require more care and support. This plant needs to be watered lightly on a regular basis with daily misting recommended. This will prevent the surface rhizomes from drying out. That’s important because the rhizomes are the main reason why people love these plants. Every two weeks, you will also need to ensure that these plants are provided with a liquid houseplant fertiliser that is mixed at about half the strength. 

You might even be curious about a plant that thrives indoors and outdoors. Some plants are capable of living in these types of conditions including the Alocasia Wentil - Hardy Elephant Ears. With a remarkable, unique aesthetic these plants can even grow outdoors in the winter months and will be able to adapt to a variety of different temperatures. 

Why Do Certain Indoor Plants Require Particular Growing Conditions?

The growing conditions of plants are determined by where they are found in their natural environment. Some indoor plants originally grow in harsh climates and difficult weather conditions. So, when you bring them home, they will be perfect if you don’t want to think too much beyond where to position a plant besides if it will look pretty. 

Dracena Fragrans or ‘happy plants’ are a brilliant example. Providing a cheerful presence, these are very hardy and just need to be kept out of direct sunlight to ensure that they don’t get burned. You don’t even need to worry about watering these plants too much, except on occasion. 

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Fiddle Leaf Fig will require a little more care and maintenance. That’s because these originate in the rainforests of Western Africa. So, your living room is quite different from what the plant is used to. Keeping this plant happy will require some patience. While they need a lot of water, if the soil gets soggy your plant will drown. So, you need to ensure that they dry out before watering. They will also need plenty of light and a location that is away from air vents, drafts and other disturbances. 

Once you have selected the right indoor plant for your home, you need to pot it. This all starts with getting the soil right. 

Potting An Indoor Plant

Growing healthy indoor plants will always be based on whether you can get the right soil. The good news is that plants won’t care about specific materials. But they do want the right qualities. For instance, the roots require the right structure to support the plant. At the same time, the mix must drain well while delivering the right moisture levels. 

You need to think about other factors too including nutrition, aeration and the right pH level. 

As with other care areas, the right type of soil is always going to depend on the plant you’re growing. Again, it’s based on the environment that the plant is used to growing in. 

Some indoor plants thrive in a scorching desert, a mulched forest floor or even a rock crevice. The first step is choosing which type of soil that your plant needs. There are various options here including:

  • All-Purpose Potting - light and spongy, this soil can still form clumps or break apart as needed. It will provide a neutral pH level and a high level of fertility.
  • Succulent Mix - This type of soil is going to drain rapidly and will hold a lower level of moisture. Be careful with this choice because it is often slightly more alkaline.
  • Epiphyte - Some plants such as orchids have weak roots. As such, they need more structure as well as aeration. Bark will often be a major component of these soils to guarantee the right structure.
  • Specialised Solutions - These can be perfect for plants that require very particular planting environments. Azaleas and evergreen plants will benefit from this choice but you can also make your own.

Building Your Potting Soil 

Getting your potting soil right will require providing the material that can hold water and provide a structure such as a sphagnum or a coconut coir. In terms of drainage materials, you can choose from options like perlite, pumice or even sand. Sand is useful for breaking up heavy soils but won’t provide a high level of absorption. It’s ideal if you want to reduce aeration and improve levels of soil drainage. 

Next, you need to make sure that you're fertilising your indoor plants the right way. Indoor plants require nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. You’ll find that these are labelled on fertilisers with the NPK ratio. To keep things simple a 10 - 10 - 10 ratio will offer the perfect balance. The plants may also require other nutrients such as sulfur, magnesium and calcium.

Once you have potted your indoor plants, you need to water them the right way. Overwatering is the most common reason why indoor plants tend to die. Adding the right level of water to your indoor plant is a delicate balancing act. You must keep the compost moist but at the same time, wait until it is nearly dry before you re-water. 

Check your compost by pushing your finger into it. If it feels dry, water from above and use saucers to let the excess water drain away. In most cases, you can use regular tap water for your indoor plants. However, there are types that require extra care and you should be aware of this. 

Watering Your Indoor Plants

Once you have potted your indoor plants, you need to water them the right way. Overwatering is the most common reason why indoor plants tend to die. 

Adding the right level of water to your indoor plant is a delicate balancing act. You must keep the compost moist but at the same time, wait until it is nearly dry before you rewater. Check your compost by pushing your finger into it. If it feels dry, water from above and use saucers to let the excess water drain away. 

In most cases, you can use regular tap water for your indoor plants. However, there are types that require extra care and you should be aware of this. 

Watering Through The Year

Indoor plants will require more or less water depending on the season. You will need to water your plants more through spring and summer. In the winter the plants tend to be dormant and can thrive with far less. Plants are active through the summer months and will always require more care. 

You may wonder how long you can leave your plants if you are going on holiday. Most house plants will survive for at least two weeks without rewatering. However, you do need to prepare them the right way. 

Ensure that all pots are watered thoroughly, particularly if you’re going away in the summer. Plants in smaller plots and those which prefer high levels of humidity can be moved to the bath while you are away. Line the bath or shower with an old towel soaked in water to ensure they get the right level they need. 

Can You Grow Indoor Plants In Water?

Many people want indoor plants that are easy to maintain and growing plants in water suits this need. With this tactic, the water only needs to be replaced every so often instead of weekly. You can also avoid issues with disease and pests. As well as this, it’s beneficial if you have allergy issues. 

To grow an indoor plant in water, you need to choose one that suits this option. There are lots of possibilities that fit the bill including:

You can use a cutting of one of these plants and select a glass vessel that has a thin neck. This will keep the plant upright. You then need to provide the right light to let your plant grow. 

Finding The Right Lighting 

Regardless of whether you are growing in water or soil, the right lighting will be crucial for indoor plants. 

Sunlight is typically going to be the best and easiest way to give your indoor plants the light they need to grow beautifully. Many people will position their plants close to a window or another natural light source. You just need to ensure that the plant doesn’t get too hot when you choose. 

Don’t forget, the spot you choose for your plant will also impact the level of water it needs. A place that provides more natural light will cause water to evaporate far more rapidly. The level of lighting you need will depend on the species of plant you select. 

What If There Isn’t Sunlight? 

Many people want indoor plants that are easy to maintain and growing plants in water suits this need. With this tactic, the water only needs to be replaced every so often instead of weekly. You can also avoid issues with disease and pests. As well as this, it’s beneficial if you have allergy issues. 

To grow an indoor plant in water, you need to choose one that suits this option. There are lots of possibilities that fit the bill including:

  • Devil’s Ivy
  • Fiddled leaf fig
  • Jade Plant
  • Spider Plant
  • Peace Lily

You can use a cutting of one of these plants and select a glass vessel that has a thin neck. This will keep the plant upright. You then need to provide the right light to let your plant grow. 

If there isn’t sunlight, you will need to think about using a different light source. A key benefit of an artificial light source is that you gain more control over how much light your plant receives. It’s easier to keep it at the right level. 

Items Used For Providing The Right Lighting

There are numerous items that can be used to provide your plants with the right lighting. These include:

  • Reflector - As well as protecting the lamp, you can direct the lamp where you need it. An efficient solution, this will ensure no light is lost and instead gets bounced back towards the plant.
  • Ballast box - the item offers everything you need to power the lamp and keep the current regulated whenever the light is running.
  • The light

To choose the right light, you need to consider a variety of factors. For instance, you should think about whether you require a cool or warm lighting source. Lights for plants are provided with a CCT rating or correlated colour temperature. The CCT will tell you whether the lamp will provide the source of light that you need for your plant. 

You can need different types of lighting depending on the stage of your plant. To understand this, we need to explore different CCT ratings.

5000-7000 Kelvin - This will deliver a strong blue light and is ideal for the rapid growth phase of plants. It will ensure that all-round plant growth is enhanced with a strong output. 

You can also consider cool white fluorescents at 4000 - 4200 kelvin. A supplement for blue lighting, this option will be perfect for propagation. 

2100 - 2700 Kelvin - High-pressure sodium lamps will offer this type of light source. They could be essential for the flowering or fruiting stage of the plant. It can also be suitable for greenhouse lighting as well. Many people will move green house plants indoors at certain times throughout the year. 

The term correlated colour temperature suggests you can select the right lighting by the colour the light emits. But this is not the case. Usually, this will cause you to favour lights at the yellow end of the spectrum. These are the lights that are easy to identify with the human eye. 

You’ll miss out lights on the blue and red spectrums completely which are essential for different growing stages.

Choosing The Right Plant Lamp

High-Intensity Discharge

High-intensity Discharge (HID) lamps are used for virtually any type of plant. They can either be Metal Halide or High-Pressure Sodium. Metal Halide lamps will provide blue lights and emulate the light for summer or spring. So, these will be perfect for vegetative growth or propagation. 

High-Pressure Sodium lights provide the light of autumn sunlight and offer a ‘redder’ light source. Usually, these lights will be used to extend the typical ‘natural day length’ and can create the conditions of summer. They will be ideal when there are lowlight hours or during total darkness. 

You could be growing lights in a location with no natural source of light at all. In this case, a combination of both lights will be ideal.

Fluorescent Grow Lights 

If you’re keen to keep your indoor plant growing efficient and green-friendly fluorescent grow lights are certainly your friend. Usually, fluorescent grow lights provide everything you need including the lamp holder and the ballast. You’ll find there are a few different models to choose from here. 

One of the key benefits of this type of lighting is that they offer a low heat output. This means that you don’t have to worry about them drying out the growing media. So, they’ll be perfect for orchids and other plants that require low levels of light. You can set these up about 1 inch away from the plant itself. During vegetative growth, a ‘cool white’ lamp will be ideal. While this can also be used through flowering, you might want to switch to a ‘warm white light, during this phase. 

Be aware that there are also compact fluorescents. They are beneficial because they will provide a greater light intensity and will fit most E40 lamp fittings. They can be perfect growing plants that require a small level of space. 

Do You Need to Think About Size?

The size will be important and is impacted by the growing area as well as the type of plants. Some plants will require larger light sources. You will also need to ensure that you provide a larger light if there is no natural light in the space at all. There are numerous items that you can use to increase the intensity of light including:

  • Proper reflectors
  • Light movers
  • Reflective material

Of course, that’s only scratching the surface for the tools you need to look after indoor plants. 

Tools For Looking After Your Indoor Plants

Did you think you can use the same tools for indoor plants as you do the ones that you keep outdoors in your garden? Think again because there are a variety of tools you need for indoor plants.

In the garden, there are numerous tools for looking after your plants. This includes:

  • Shovels
  • Spades
  • Rakes
  • Cultivators

As you may have noted, these are all larger tools. For indoor plant growing, you need more compact items so let’s take a look at some examples. 

Hand Fork - Indoor plants will always require the right level of soil nutrients. You need to work these into the soil and a hand fork will keep this process simple. They can also be used for plants and transplanting. If you have smaller plants, you can get away with using a table fork that has been bent to fit your needs. 

Pruners - Hand pruners can be used to snip the stems, get rid of excess leaves and ensure that there’s no issue with unwanted growth. You need to keep these clean and sharp. That will prevent damaging your plant. You should also rub them with alcohol to avoid issues with disease and pests. 

Hand Transplanter - This tool will be essential for ensuring that you can easily move your indoor plants around the right way without damaging them. It will be essential for repotting or even just planting new bulbs. 

Watering cans - We have already mentioned the importance of watering your plants. For this process, you will need either an indoor watering can or a mister. A watering can that can hold about half a gallon will be perfect and it should have a long thin neck. A mister will be necessary for indoor plants that thrive in humidity. It’s worth spending a little more here to get the results that you want for your plant. 

Trays - Drainage trays are going to be useful to protect the floors and carpet of your home. They will also keep plants healthy by dodging issues with excess water. Use ones that are easy to move and clean. 

Stakes - To help your plants grow, you need stakes that deliver the right level of support. Stakes should ensure your plants can climb safely in all different directions. Bamboo skewers will be wonderful for smaller plants. 

Soil Tester - With a soil tester, you can avoid guessing when watering or fertilizing your indoor plants. They can allow you to check whether you have the right pH level, light level and moisture level for your indoor plants. Usually, these work by inserting the probe into the soil and then checking the reading. 

Trowel - You might already have an outdoor trowel but that’s always going to be too large for indoor plants. Instead, you need a smaller trowel. This will help you accomplish smaller maintenance tasks such as preparing the soil with a great level of ease. 

Now, you know everything you need and that your plant requires. But there’s still the issue of repotting. 

Repotting Your Indoor Plants  

Repotting an indoor plant will be necessary if it has outgrown its current pot. A lot of people are worried about repotting a plant because they think it might stop it from growing. Fear not, most indoor plants are resilient to this process. Ironically, failing to repot a plant can do more harm than actually move it because eventually, it will stun the growth. 

First, you need to know the signs that your plants need repotting. Check for leaves that are yellow and signs that your plant is wilting quickly. You also need to make sure roots aren’t poking out of the soil or that your plant seems to be about to fall over. 

You must repot your plant before the plant is matted or there are circling roots. When you remove the pot, the soil should still full away slightly. You will need to remove the plant from the first pot. Make sure that you are removing weeds and check the root system. You should pull off any roots that are twisted or broken. It’s possible the plant is dry and if that’s the case, dunk it down in a bucket of water. Next, you need to select a pot one size larger and fill it partially with potting mix. Ensure that your plant is straight and centred but do not plant it deeper than the original plot. 

Watering the plant well will ensure that your plant is able to settle the right way. You should press the soil mixture down with your fingers and sprinkle the right fertilizer over the surface of your plant. Make sure that you water the plant first to avoid burning the roots. A key part of potting your plant is making sure that they do have the right levels of drainage. You need to ensure that drainage holes are going to provide the right level of support. You can also cover the holes with mesh to avoid leaks here. 

You may also need to clean the pots with a bristle brush. This will avoid issues with disease which can be a concern when you have indoor plants.

Keeping Your Indoor Plants Safe From Disease And Pests

Some people do find it difficult to keep houseplants happy and healthy. One of the main issues is always going to be avoiding problems with pests and disease. 

First, you need to make sure that you are inspecting your house plants before you bring them inside. This is true whether they are straight from the shop or spent the previous sign outdoors. If you do notice any signs with disease or pests, you need to keep the plants isolated to prevent the spread of these issues. 

Try not to confuse signs of disease with signs of shock. Plants that are moved will show a few signs of surprise including dropping some leaves. You then need to consider the placement of the plant. If you place a plant where the temperature is going to change, then this can make issues with disease more likely. 

We have already mentioned that different plants like certain conditions from fertiliser to water levels. Getting this right will help you keep your plants happy and healthy. A lot of people assume that indoor plants are easier to care for and they can be but they will need certain measures in place.

What About Pests?

You may want to add a little dishwashing soap or even diluted Neem Oil Concentrate to the water. This is just one of the tips that you should take on board when caring for your house plant.

Additional Tips for Looking After Your Indoor Plants

Taking on some extra tips will help ensure that your plants remain in great condition. For instance, don’t use a feather duster to clean your plants. This is one of the easiest ways to move tiny insects and eggs from one plant to another, causing the problem to spread. 

If you are curious about the easiest plants to keep alive, then there are a few options. These include:

  • Rubber trees
  • Peace silly
  • Peperomia

Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum)

Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum)

$42.00

They are going to be perfect for anyone who doesn’t have a lot of time to water and maintain their plants. 

Are you eager to ensure that your plants grow more rapidly? Believe it or not, talking to your plants can be the best way to ensure that this is the case. A study by the Royal Horticultural Society found that if you talk to your plants, they will grow more rapidly. 

As well as this, female voices were found to be more effective, perhaps due to their nurturing and softer qualities. Many gardeners have taken this advice to heart and can often be heard speaking softly to their favourite plants. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t be doing the same with the ones in your home. While plants don’t hear in the traditional sense they do respond to a variety of noises in the natural world including the buzzing of bees. 

We hope this helps you understand how to care for your house plants the right way. An indoor plant can be a fantastic addition to any more or room. You just need to know the right steps for maintenance to keep your plant happy and healthy like any other living thing. When choosing a house plant it’s important to think more about what your plant needs rather than focusing on the aesthetic and practical benefits it will bring to your property. 

Despite the responsibility that comes with looking after living organisms--plants make you happy!

 

 

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