With the sprawling cities, suburbs and urban areas that cover much of the world's surface today, many of us are missing the greenery that once dotted the landscape. A lot of people genuinely miss having a closer connection with nature.
Also, close to 90% of people's time is spent indoors, whether in the office at work or on the couch at home. When we are cooped up in stuffy buildings, we are missing out on all that plants can provide.
These plants can convert the carbon dioxide in the air in your home to oxygen, providing fresh air and many houseplants can also help to purify the air in your home. They do this by drawing pollutants from the air and trapping them so that you aren't breathing them in. A large number of these chemical pollutants are released through “off-gassing” from furniture and products that are present in or homes and offices.
If you are looking to feel closer to nature, desire to bring the outside in and help to clear the air in your living and work spaces, then it might be a good idea to learn how to grow plants indoors.
It's far simpler than most people think, but you do need to have a decent understanding about what role the environment around you will play in the growth of the plant. Also, growing plants indoors differs greatly from growing them outdoors, so you'll need to be prepared for that as well.
Today we will be looking at the core factors that play a role in the growth of plants indoors. Things like light, humidity, water, and temperature are all vital to the care and maintenance of indoor plants, and we will go over information regarding each of these topics.
If you are ready to learn more about how to grow plants indoors, keep reading for all the information you need to get the best indoor garden…
Light is the most important thing that plants need in order to survive. Plants use light to make their food, and the more light that plants are exposed to, generally the healthier they are.
All plants whether grow indoors or outdoors need light. It is easy to ensure that plants grown outdoors are getting adequate light, as the sun is right there providing this necessity to the plants.
When growing plants indoors it can be a bit more difficult to help your plants get the light that they need in order to thrive.
When looking around your home or office, you can see areas that have differing levels of light. Some areas of your home are low light. Some are medium light, some receive high amounts of light and others are exposed to bright direct sunlight.
Different things play a role in how much light these areas of your home get. The overhang of your roof, trees that cast shadows from their shade, your curtains, the direction your home faces… these are all things that can prevent light from getting into your home.
All of this is important to know when you are looking at houseplants to grow indoors.
When you are shopping for your houseplants, be mindful of where they will grow best. IF you really want a plant in the window in your office but there is a tree that will block much of the light coming into your office, make sure you get a plant that can handle lower levels of sunlight, so it doesn't die.
Usually there will be a label of sorts somewhere with the plant that will explain this information. The label will tell you the plant's light requirements as well as other information we will discuss shortly.
If the plant you are in love with says it requires high light levels but the place you want to put the plant does not have adequate lighting, you are going to run into some problems. If you really want this plant though, there are some things you can do.
One option is to just leave the plant exposed to the lower levels of light for a longer period of time. For instance, you could make sure that your plant gets 12 hours of time in the sun in a lower level of lighting instead of three hours in the sun in bright lighting.
Artificial grow lights are another option for extending the amount of light your plants are exposed to. There are fluorescent and incandescent lighting options that can get the job done.
Remember though, that even though your plants need to get enough light, too much light can be just as harmful – especially if you are growing anything special like tropical plants that are used to very low levels of lighting.
If your plant is not getting enough light, or it is getting too much light, it will let you know. Some of the signs your plants will show you are:
- New leaves are much smaller than old leaves
- Older leaves are dead
- New leaves are much lighter in color that older leaves
- Your plant has stopped growing
All around us there is moisture in the air, and this moisture is called humidity.
Humidity is an important consideration when growing plants, but it is often overlooked.
Generally, for indoor plants, humidity below 20% is too low, between 40 and 50% is medium, and any humidity measured above 50% is high.
The vast majority of indoor plants in homes and offices come from tropical areas with high humidity levels, and they won't thrive when exposed to the humidity levels of the American Midwest. You can help to mimic your plant's native conditions, though, which might help it to grow better.
If your plant exhibits any of these signs of distress, it's time to change the levels of humidity in your office or home so that your plant can grow better.
- Leaves begin to wilt
- Flowers quickly shrivel
- Edges of leaves turn brown
- Flowers don't open or fall off the plant before opening
One of the easiest ways to increase humidity is to mist your plants. To do this, simply fill a spray bottle with warm water and spray a small amount onto your plants. Don't spray plants that have leaves which appear hairy, though, or the water will stick around and encourage diseases.
b. Pebble tray
Another way to increase the humidity is to use trays of pebbles and water. Locate a small tray and fill it with a layer of small pebbles. Add water to the tray, but don't quite cover the pebbles, then place your plant on top of the pebbles and water.
The pebbles in the tray will hold the plant above the layer of water in the tray, preventing the roots from becoming waterlogged and killing the plant through root rot.
The water in the tray will naturally evaporate and will increase the moisture in the air around the plant. Keep refilling the tray when the water runs low.
Placing your houseplants in groups is another solution for increasing the humidity levels for them.
Not only do larger groupings of houseplants look more attractive than single ones placed sparsely, the groups of plants work to form a humidity blanket around themselves. If you wish to raise the humidity levels even further, place a small dish of water at the center of the grouping of plants.
Replenish the water in the dish as needed to keep the humidity stable.
d. A few notes
If your plant prefers high humidity, keep it away from the vents from the heaters and furnaces in your home.
You can also use a humidifier in the rooms where your plants are, to further increase the moisture in the air.
Plants that like high humidity will also thrive in areas of your home that naturally have high humidity. Places such as the kitchen, the laundry room or the bathrooms are all places where high humidity plants will thrive.
The second most important influencer of plant growth is the temperature where the plant is kept.
While most people are at their most comfortable when the temperature is between 72°F and 82°F, this is not the case for indoor plants. Because most indoor plants come from areas of the world that are subtropical or tropical, they do well in temperatures ranging from 58°F to 86°F.
You learned that light is vital for photosynthesis which is how plants make their food, and now you are learning that temperature is vital to respiration which is how the plants break down the food to create energy to sustain themselves.
If the plant is not getting enough light, it won't be producing enough food. If the plant is not creating enough food, then the high temperatures will break down the food leaving none for the plant to use through respiration to grow.
All houseplants have a range of minimum and maximum temperatures they can tolerate.
Plants that love cooler temperatures can do well even when the temperatures drop below 50°F at night. Some examples of these plants are Wonder Plants, Japanese Aralia and Cyclamen.
Other plants prefer temperatures that are moderate, around 72°F. Ferns and Cast Iron Plants are examples of this kind of plant.
Some tropical plants do best when temperatures are above 90°F, but these are rarely grown indoors because of the temperature requirements.
For the majority of plants though, the ideal temperature range is between 70°F and 80°F during the daytime hours, and 65°F to 70°F during the night.
Be mindful of changes in temperature during seasonal changes. If your plant likes it warm, do not leave it near a window with a chilly draft or right near the vent where the air conditioner blows into the room. If your plant prefers to be cooler, keep it away from the heat registers and heating vents where the hot air from the furnace blows into the room.
Ensuring your plants get enough water, but not too much is often one of the most difficult parts of caring for plants indoors.
Too much water gets trapped in the roots of the plants and kills them from the bottom up to the top while too little water prevents your plants from growing properly. If you want your plants to thrive, you will need to learn all you can to meet the specific needs of the plants you are growing.
Different plants have different requirements for water.
For example, a succulent plant such as Aloe vera does not need anywhere near as much water as a Fern plant.
Larger plants will often need more water than smaller plants, for obvious reasons – but this is not always the case. Succulents tend to need less water the larger they grow.
Your plant will show signs of the problems it is facing, and if you pay attention to these signs you can quickly fix them and help your plant to grow well.
If your plants are getting too much water, some of the signs they will show are:
- Discoloration of leaves, flowers and stems
- Foliage will begin to wilt
- Lower leaves will fall from the plant
- The plant will fail to grow larger
If your plants aren't getting enough water, here are some symptoms they will exhibit:
- Leaves that turn brown on the edges
- Flowers falling off before opening
- Flowers not opening at all
- Soil will be dry
- The outer tips of the leaves will wilt
You can check the soil your plant is potted in to determine how much water it needs, if any. For some plants you can simply touch the surface of the soil, while for others you will need to feel about an inch deep into the soil.
If the soil is damp or moist, your plant likely doesn't need watering. If the soil is bone dry, you plant is probably ready for a drink, but be careful to not over water.
5. Final word
Growing plants indoors is a fantastic option for city dwellers who don't have access to the foliage of the countryside, as well as anyone who just wants some greenery in their homes.
There are many things that go into growing plants indoors, but with a little bit of knowledge, it's not so tough.
Come back soon!