7 Tips for Maintaining a Successful Indoor Garden

Michael Kelly

Indoor gardening is a great way to improve the decor of your home and bring a room to life. You can also use indoor gardening as a means to grow vegetables and herbs. Whether you’re choosing to grow indoors for convenience, because you don’t have the outdoor space, or because your climate isn’t amenable to certain plants, there are several key elements you need to be successful. Learn how to properly light and water your plants, choose the correct pottery, maintain humidity and more to help ensure the success of your indoor garden.

1. Know the light. Your lighting situation can make or break your indoor garden. You should always check the lighting recommendations for your plants, but sometimes those recommendations are hard to decipher.

Direct light means six or more hours of bright sunshine every day. Moderate light means direct sunshine for about four hours a day.

Indirect light means the plant needs ambient light for most of the day.

Low light means one or two hours of ambient light a day.

2. Water accordingly. Different plants need different amounts of water. That should be obvious. But as is the case with determining how much light a plan should receive, it can also be tricky to figure out how much water a plant needs. If the plant needs to be “watered often” then you should water it whenever the soil feels dry. If the plant needs to be watered “moderately” you can allow the top inch of soil to become dry between watering.

3. “Leave” the bad ones behind. It’s not a bad idea to buy potted plants that are already growing. This can give you a quick start on your indoor garden – although some gardeners say it’s more rewarding to start with seedlings and watch them grow. If you decide to buy potted plants, make sure you’re buying healthy ones. Otherwise, you may be setting yourself up for failure. Check to make sure there are no brown, dried or dead leaves on the plant.

Also, avoid plants that show signs of fungus or insect eggs. Bringing these into your house could be catastrophic. Last, choose a plant that has more leaves than buds. If the plant is already growing leaves and flowers, it’s a sign that it’s healthy. There’s no guarantee that those budding stems will flourish.

4. Get the right pot size. Generally, plants will come in the correct size pots. When you need to transfer an indoor plant to a new pot, stick to the same size pot that the plant came in. You can go an inch or two bigger, but that’s it. If there’s too much soil around the indoor plant, you run the risk of overwatering it. Never put a plant into a pot smaller than the size it originally came in.

Terra-cotta, resin or fiberglass all make for great potting. Also, make sure to put a saucer down on the floor and then put the pot on top of it. This can help protect your floor and prevent water spillage.

5. Get the humidity right. Most indoor plants thrive on humidity. Even if a plant needs very little watering it still probably needs a humid environment. A quick way to get plants the humidity they need is by lightly spraying them with water from a spray bottle. This will gently coat their leaves and stems without overwatering their soil and roots.

You can also leave a dish of water near the plant. This will allow the plant to absorb the water through humidity in the air. Another option is to use a humidifier, although it’s recommended that you do this in limited amounts. Too much and you may develop a mold problem. The winter is particularly dry so you want to make sure that you’re maintaining good humidity levels for your plants in the colder months.

6. Get the temperature right. As with watering and sunlight, all plants need a specific temperature in order to grow and thrive. Research the plants in your indoor garden to find out which temperatures they need and group them accordingly. You don’t want plants that need 65° temperatures grouped with plant that need 80° temperatures. If the leaves on your plants are turning yellow, it’s a sign that they may be too cold. Move them to a warmer part of your house or turn up the temperature.

Make sure the plants are not placed near any drafts. Poorly insulated windows, outside doors and air-conditioning units can all create air patterns that chill plants and cause them to wilt or die. Also, make sure that you do not set the temperature in your house or apartment too low before leaving on vacation. You may accidentally kill your plants if the air temperature is too cold.

7. Water plants the right way. There are several ways you can water your plants. If your plant is in a pot that has holes in the bottom, and is on a dish, you can put water in the dish and the plant will absorb the water through the holes in the bottom of the pot. This can help prevent overwatering and drowning the plant.

You can also put the entire plant and pot in the sink and give it a thorough watering. This can help revive a plant if you leave it in the sun for too long, or forget to water it. Another option is to place ice cubes on the soil of the plant. As the ice cubes melt, they will gradually water the plant. This can help prevent overwatering.

Last, you should consider using distilled water. Most plants prefer distilled water over tap water. Buying distilled water can be expensive, though. Fortunately, you can buy a countertop water distiller for around $200. These can distill a gallon of water in several hours. The upfront cost may seem high, but it will soon pay for itself if it keeps you from having to buy bottles of distilled water.

Something as simple as putting a few plants on the windowsill can help liven up a room. Whether you’re an experienced gardener, or just starting out, the tips in this article can help you establish or improve your indoor garden. With care and diligence you can create a beautiful, growing display to enjoy for years to come.

KEEP READING: Gardening for Beginners: How and Why You Should Try It

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