House plants are very useful for us and growing houseplants can bring much joy to your life. They can be used to decorate a room, office space or any indoor area. They are excellent air purifiers and you can grow an indoor garden for fresh culinary ingredients. Regardless of your reason, indoor gardening is a wonderful hobby to pick up. Let us have a look at all things “houseplants”.
House Plants Care
Before you get started with your houseplants, you need to know how to cater for the basic needs of a plant. It is easy to know the plant needs water, light, nutrition for good growth but knowing the right amount can be quite difficult. Here are the basic tips for your house plants care.
House Plants Water And Moisture Requirements
Everyone knows the importance of watering your plant. Plants need water to live and grow. But that knowledge can usually lead to the demise of the plant. It is because over watering frequently leads to problems for indoor plants than under-watering does. That means both under watering and over watering will harm the plant.
Here are some rules to consider when watering your indoor plants.
Unlike plants that grow in a garden, house plants are isolated and as such needs to be monitor careful. You will need to water most plants only when the few top centimeters are dry. And you should know your houseplant and cater for it as you should. You should also avoid watering your house plants by calendar as you may end up under-watering or overwatering the plant. It is because when the weather is dry, the potting mix will lose moisture a lot faster and you would need to water the plant much more often. Also, when the atmosphere is very humid, you would need to water the plant less often. The best way to decide whether to water a plant or not is by sticking your thumb into the potting mix. It will help you determine just how moist or dry the potting mix is.
Watering requirements is so diverse to the extent that some plants need to be watered even when the topsoil is slightly moist such as lettuce, while some plants only need to be watered when soil is dried out like succulents such as cactus.
When watering your potted plant you need to do it properly. Using a watering can is helpful. You should water the potted plant slowly and thoroughly until water starts to seep out of the seepage holes in the bottom of the planter. Just to make sure, you can repeat the process. If the potting mix has been dried out for long, after watering you should sit the potted plant in a shallow dish of water.
House Plants Light Requirements
Most plants need light to photosynthesize and grow. The light need of plants varies hugely. While tropical plants need up to 8 hours of bright light to grow, temperate plants, such as plants native to Europe and North America, do not need that much sunlight and a lot of sunlight can scorch the leaves. It is best to have a potted plant by a window that is south facing. Cloud cover, seasonal changes in hours of sunlight, and other structures such as trees and other building blocking the plant’s exposure to sunlight are all factors that can affect the amount of sunlight a potted plant receives.
When growing plants indoors, it will be tough for the plant to receive enough sunlight. You can use grow lights for your plant. For most herbs and non-flowering plants, a CFL tube should be sufficient. For plants that will produce fruits and blossom, more potent grow lights may be needed. When growing planting under grow light requires you to give plants more exposure to the light. Cool-temp or blue fluorescent lights is better for plants that are grown for their foliage. And the whole warm or red fluorescent lights are better for blooming and fruit plants. You can use the two together if you wish to give the plants the full spectrum of light that they would receive if you grew them using sunlight.
Other types of grow lights include high output fluorescent, Halide or diode lights. The last option is incandescent lamps. Although these bulbs they are very cheap, they use a lot of electricity that will cost you a whole lot more anyhow. Also, the light they produce is of very little benefit to the houseplants. Many commercial indoor gardeners and growers prefer to use high-intensity lights such as metal halide and HPS (High-Pressure Sodium) grow lights. These are more expensive and may not be necessary for those growing ten plants in a single location.
House Plants Nutrition Requirements
Plants will also need a growth medium and fertilization. Using the right grow medium is critical. Some plants grow well in fast draining grow medium while some plants grow best in a potting mix that drains slowly.
When it comes to fertilization, you can go for organic or non-organic. There are also slow release fertilizer and fast releasing fertilizer. You should make sure you follow the instructions on the labels.
You will find numbers on fertilizers such as 5-5-5 or 20-20-20. It stands for the percentages of the macronutrients in the fertilizer. The first number is the proportion of nitrogen. Fertilizers with a higher proportion of nitrogen are good for leafy, green foliage growth. The second number is the percentage of phosphorous. Fertilizers with a higher proportion of phosphorous are suitable for the production of fruits and flowers. And the third one is the percentage of potassium. This nutrient promotes the development of the roots. Also, fertilizers with nutrients higher than 15 are usually chemical/ human-made fertilizers, while fertilizers with low ratios are usually organic. As such, a 4-2-2 fertilizer will most likely be organic, while a 20-20-20 fertilizer will probably be human-made.
House Plants Temperature Requirements
Temperature needs of plants vary broadly. Tropical plants need high room temperatures to survive and thrive in the cold parts of the world, while plants native to parts of the world that have winter need the cold of winter to keep growing (such as refrigeration or leaving them out during winter). Temperatures of between 15 °C to 25 °C (60 °F to 80 °F) is good enough for tropical plants.
Indoor House Plants And Air Purifying
Plants are great at purifying the air removing toxins and volatile organic compounds also known as air pollutants from the air. Their abilities are so impressive that NASA ran tests and experiment to determine by just how much plants can help improve the air quality in space stations and shuttles and also to determine which plants purified the atmosphere the best. Indoor House Plants Air Purifying have been known to remove up to 90 percent of all toxins and volatile organic compounds (VOC). Volatile organic compounds (VOC) includes trichloroethylene, formaldehyde, benzene, Ammonia and toluene.
Plants also remove carbon dioxide from the indoor atmosphere. There is a direct correlation between carbon dioxide levels and the decrease in performance and efficiency in the workplace. It is termed as sick building syndrome. It is, therefore, no surprise that workplaces with potted plants are more productive and efficient.
When it comes to air purifying house plants, it is true some plants do a better job than others do. Indoor Plants that efficiently filter the air include – Aloe vera (Aloe vera), Areca palm (Dypsis lutescens), Bamboo palm (Chamaedorea seifrizii), Banana (Musa Oriana), Barberton daisy (Gerbera jamesonii), etc.
House Plants Alternative Growing Methods
Hydroponic gardening is a relatively new alternative to traditional gardening. With this system, you grow the plants without soil and the nutrients and water needed by the plants is fed directly to the plant’s roots. On a large scale, not only is it more efficient and productive, it allows you to grow plants in the least amount of time possible and with less effort.
You do not need soil because all the nutrients and water need for growth is fed directly to the plant. Since there remains no soil to hold the plant, a base is necessary. It is made from all kind of material from Styrofoam to coco coir to clay pebbles to perlite to rock wool and so on. The roots are left hanging; hydroponic systems employ different methods to provide the roots with water, and nutrients in a methodological way. The exact amount of water and nutrients given the plant can be calculated and determined to a very precise degree. It means there is less wastage of water and nutrients.
For commercial and house gardening, hydroponics is super advantageous since
- The yield is much higher and plants grow very quickly.
- You can grow a lot more plants in less space.
- There is virtually no issue of weeds.
- There is no need to worry about Soil-borne diseases.
- Hydroponics uses a lot less water as compared to soil gardening. It is good for the environment.
Due to all of these reasons, more and more amateur and commercial growers are switching from soil gardening to hydroponic gardening.
Some common hydroponic gardening systems include Ebb and Flow, Drip Method, Nutrient Film Technique (NFT), and Passive System.
The primary target of sub-irrigation is to reduce the amount of water used in caring for plants. As such, sub-irrigation is growing in popularity. With sub-irrigation, you water the plants from the bottom and not from the top. The water flows to the roots of the plant through the potting mix by way of capillary action. The three primary systems used in sub-irrigation gardening includes ebb-and-flow, trough and flooded floor.
Sub-irrigation is advantageous since
- You will conserve more water and nutrients.
- Less work is required.
- The amount of water used is strictly controlled. This means there will be a very low chance of overwatering which can easily kill most plants.
- There is reduced compaction of potting mix since you eliminate the pressure exerted on the potting mix from top watering.
Problems Associated With Sub-Irrigation And Hydroponics
With hydroponics, there is always the likelihood that there will be an increase growth and presence of disease in the recycled water. This problem is being investigated more. Also, the installation and outfitting cost is much higher when you compare it to soil gardening.
Common House Plants Grown In Most Indoor Gardens
Here is a list of common house plants. They are a group of flowering house plants, indoor trees, indoor herbs and indoor vegetables.
A. Flowering House Plants
Most flowering house plants prefer lots of sun, moderate watering, high to moderate humidity, average room temperature, a well-drained soil mix, and fertilization with a high phosphorous liquid fertilizer. A lot of them are not just brightly colored but also sweetly scented. They are great as decorative plants and at events such as weddings and anniversaries. Some examples of flowering house plants include – Anthurium Plant (Anthurium andraeanum), Chinese Jasmine Plant (Jasminum polyanthum), Oncidium Orchid (Oncidium x), Plumeria/ Frangipani (Plumeria rubra), African Violet (Saintpaulia ionantha), etc.
B. Large houseplants
Growing large house plants indoors may not be as challenging as you would imagine. Large houseplants or trees will woo all visitors and will beautify your rooms while improving the air and humidity of the rooms too. Most indoor trees prefer indirect or direct sun as far as the sunlight is bright. Other requirements include regular watering, moderate to high humidity, normal room temperature, a well-drained soil mix and fertilization with a balanced 10-10-10 liquid fertilizer.
When it comes to growing large house plants or tall house plants, Mediterranean, subtropical and tropical trees are best. It is because they do not need exposure to winter in order to grow and the warmth of the indoors suit them best. Some large house plants are – Calamondin (Citrofortunella microcarpa), Ming Aralia Tree (Polyscias fruticosa), Money Tree (Pachira aquatica), Olive Tree (Olea europaea), Dragon Tree (Dracaena Marginata), etc. There is an interesting article on bamboo house plants which are large plants that you can grow indoors.
C. Indoor Herbs
Growing herbs indoors is an excellent way to have freshly harvested culinary ingredients for your meals and dishes. Herbs can be used to garnish foods, make sweets and iced beverages (herbs such as mint).
The herbs typically grow best with the direct bright sun (making them excellent candidates for window sill gardens), regular watering, moderate to low humidity, regular room temperature, a fast drained or well-drained potting mix, and occasional fertilization with a herb fertilizer. Common herbs include – Chives (Allium schoenoprasum), Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum), Sage (Salvia officinalis), Thyme (Thymus vulgaris), Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), etc.
D. Indoor Vegetables
These are excellent house plants for the grower who wants to have fresh ingredients for cooking. Indoor vegetables growing requires a lot of bright sunlight or grow light, regular watering, but not enough to waterlog the soil, moderate to high humidity, warm temperature, a fast drained potting mix, and regular fertilization with an organic fruit fertilizer. Common vegetables that are grown indoors include – Lettuce (Lactuca sativa), Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum), Garlic (Allium sativum), Mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus), etc.
E. Tropical House Plants
Just because you do not live in the tropic do not mean you cannot grow tropical plants. Thanks to the warmth of the indoors you can easily grow plants native to the tropics indoors. Here are some amazing tropical house plants you can try your hand on – Croton (codiaeum variegatum pictum), The urn plant (aechmea fasciata), Air plant (tillandsia ionantha), Pink quill (tillandsia cyanea), Scarlet star (guzmania lingulata), etc.
Growing Plants Indoors – Pros And Cons
Let us check out the benefits and challenges of growing plants indoors.
Pros Of Growing House Plants Indoors
Improves Air Quality
House plants will reduce the number of toxins and carbon dioxide in the air. Plants will remove 87 percent of all toxins in the air around them in as little as a day according to NASA experiments. You should consider house plants just for this reason.
Plants come in so many varieties, some such as African violets and African hibiscus cannot grow outdoors in regions such as North America and Europe. As such, you have to grow them inside, and they are such lovely plants.
We all know plants enlivens office spaces, boost productivity and brighten up homes. Thus, it is such a big reason to grow a few plants indoors. Plants such as pink calla lilies, orchids, and begonias are very nice-looking flowering houseplants. Trees are also great.
Improves Humidity Levels
It is also a great reason to grow plants indoors. Plants will create a sort of micro-ecosystem in the room they are grown. They will release 95% of water to give them into the atmosphere as very tiny invisible water droplets. It will improve the air and is great for the skin, reduces coughs, sore throats, and colds.
Lighting Is Easy To Control Indoors
Growing plants indoors allow you to grow plants whose light needs differ from what you receive in your locality. You can use artificial grow lights to cultivate and grow your plants.
Limited Or No Outdoor Space To Grow
It is one of the reasons many grow plants indoors. In urban areas, finding space outdoors to grow your plants can be tough. Why not simply grow them indoors? It is a great solution, and your plants benefit from better disease and pest control. Also, soil preparation is very simple.
Cons Of Growing House Plants Indoor
Growing Big Plants Or Trees Can Be A Challenge
It is one place where you just need the outdoors. There is almost no way you can grow a full-size adult tree on which you can build a tree house in, or have BBQs and family gatherings under.
Solution: You can plant dwarf varieties of many trees indoors.
Soil Moisture Regulation Has To Be Done By You
When you plant in the grounds outdoors, the earth and the soil structure of where you plant your plant will take care of the soil moisture regulation. With potted plants, you will need to be more involved. Over watering or under watering will easily cause the demise of your plants.
Solution: Make sure you water the plants only when needed. Also, make sure you check to see if the potting mix needs watering on regular basis.
Although fertilizer can accumulate in soils outside, these are leached deep into the soil and spread evenly through the earth. With potted plants, accumulation of some minerals such as salts can easily harm your plants.
Solution: Drain excess buildup by placing the potted plant with the potting mix under a running tap so as to wash all the residual fertilizer. Also, organic fertilizer use does not cause anywhere near as much buildup as chemical fertilizers do.