Contributor: Mark Bishop
The indoor plants are mood enhancers. Greenery of these plants brightens up the living space. Indoor plants are popular because they add value to the indoor décor theme, provide health benefits and are easy to take care of. Here are seven steps to follow while growing indoor plants.
Room to Grow
The indoor plants need enough space to grow just like any other plant in the garden. Make sure the above ground parts of the plant like leaves have enough space. Ensure the growing leaves are not obstructed by shelves, cloth hangers or other home appliances. The roots need enough room to grow. Use the right pot size. Roots of the plants should not be crowded. Crowded roots result in smaller amounts of growth.
Choosing the right pots
For indoor plants, the pot sizes such are 2 inches, 3 inches, 5 inches and 7 inches are sufficient. Traditionally clay pots are the best as they hold moisture for a long period. You can also use old tea pots, storage tins, salad bowls, and small wooden boxes. Terracotta pots and plastic containers can be painted. If you are using plastic pots, make sure you do not overwater you indoor plants. Water cannot evaporate out easily in plastic pots.
Choosing the right room
Make a list of ventilated areas and windows. Observe them in the morning, noon and evening. Check the amount of sunlight received in the chosen spot. Choose your indoor plant accordingly. If the place gets direct sun for 6-8 hours, it is called full sun; 4-6 hours of indirect sun is partial sun and less than four hours is low light. You can place full sun plants near windows, partial sun plants in the middle of the living room and so on. Low light plants are good options for corners. Some of the low light plants are pothos, ferns, sanseviera, etc.
The indoor plants grow the best at temperatures between 60 degrees Fahrenheit and 68 degree Fahrenheit at night and between 70 degrees Fahrenheit and 80 degrees Fahrenheit during the day. However, the perfect temperature of the indoor plants varies with their types. The succulent plants like ferns are tolerant to cold temperatures.
Most of the indoor plants originate from the subtropical and tropical parts of the world. They need higher humidity and warmer temperature. Use temperature controllers to ensure that you are controlling the area..
Temperature and humidity of the plants are related.
The ideal relative humidity for indoor plants is 10% to 20%. Relative humidity if the moisture content in the air. How to create the right relative humidity for your indoor plants?
- Place the plants close to each other and create a micro environment with low relative humidity.
- You can use lava rocks and grave to increase the relative humidity.
- Use mist bottles and spray water around the plant during summers to increase relative humidity. You can do this twice a day. Or you can also use a humidifier.
The growth of the plant totally depends on the light. The south and west part of the house get an ambient amount of light. Place the full sun plants near the windows in these parts of the house. You can add artificial lights to make up for the inadequacy of natural sunlight. Fluorescent bulbs and LED Grow Lights are the most popular types of artificial lights for plants.
Here are few factors to consider before choosing artificial light for your plants:
- PPF: PPF is Photosynthetic Photon Flux. PPF is the amount of light released by a light source and is measured in micromoles of light per meter per second. Check these measurements while buying artificial light for your plants. Low light plants require 50-150 micromoles of light per meter per second. Medium light or partial sun plants require 150-250 micromoles of light per meter per second. High light plants require 250-450 micromoles of light per meter per second.
- Foot candle: It is the amount of light received by one square foot surface. The surface is located at a distance of one square foot away from the light source.
- Lumens: It is the measure of brightness of the light source.
- Watts: It is the amount of energy consumed by the light source.
Distance from the light source
Ensure that you place the light source at a sufficient distance from the plants. Light sources such as incandescent bulbs and sodium bulbs produce a lot of heat. Heat generated from the bulbs affects the growth of the plants. Here are few examples:
- Seedlings: 4-6 inches from the light source
- Herbs and Hydroponic plants: 6-12 inches from the light source
- Foliage house plants: 12-24 inches from the light source
- Flowering indoor plants: 6-12 inches from the light source
Quality of light
The quality of light is the wavelength or color of the light source. The light spectrum used by plants is called Photosynthetically Active Radiation and it mainly comprises red and blue light. You can also grow lights that emit only blue and red wavelengths. Check on the package details to learn about the type of light. The grow lights carry tags of blue light, white or balanced light and red light.
Here are some tips to choose the right artificial light source for your indoor plants:
- Use blue lights for starting seeds and non-flowering plants.
- Use red light for promoting bud and also for flowering plants
- You can use white or balanced light at any growth stage of the plants.
Light Duration or Photoperiod
The duration of light or the photoperiod is the number of hours a plant needs light in a day or 24 hours. Based on photoperiod, you can classify plants into three categories. They are long day plants, short day plants and day neutral plants.
- Short day plants require less hours of light. Some of the short day plants are thanksgiving, chrysanthemum, Christmas cacti and poinsettia.
- Long day plants are usually flowering plants and they flower when the daylight is more than the night period. Some of the long day plants are African violets, tuberous begonias, gloxinia.
- Day-neutral plants are those indoor plants that are insensitive to the day length. These plants include Crossandra, maple, and Gerbera daisies.
Of all the elements, water is the most important ingredient for plant growth. With too much water or without water, your indoor plant may die! Most of the plants require water when the soil is slightly dry. Learn the plant requirement before watering. Also, you should know when to water your indoor plants. You may determine this based on type of the plant, plant size and time of the year. Though different plants have different requirements, here is a common way to learn about the requirement of the plant. Stick your finger inside the soil, at least for an inch. If it is dry, water the plant.
How to avoid overwatering?
If you add too much water, your indoor plants drown and die. Why so? When there is too much water in the pot, the roots are unable to breathe. Eventually they suffocate and die. How to spot overwatering? If your leaves are yellowing and there is no new growth, you are overwatering. To avoid overwatering, check the soil before watering the indoor plants. If the soil is dry, water the plants. Make sure, you don’t pool the pot with water.
How often should I water my indoor plants?
Every 1-3 weeks. The number given here is an approximate time. Do not schedule watering. Monitor the water content in the soil and water your indoor plants accordingly.
Tips to water indoor plants
Use a watering can. The can has a long spout and allows you to direct the water flow to the plant. Do not use softened water. The softened water has sodium and affects the health of the house plants.
How to water indoor plants?
There is a right way to water your indoor plants. First, use clean water. Warm water is a better option as plants absorb warm water faster than cold water. Do not throw water all over the plant as they may catch fungi and germs. Aim and add water only in the pot. Here are the steps to water your indoor plants:
- Pour a little amount of water at first.
- Wait for the water to sink in.
- Add a little more. This time you will see that the water soaks in.
- After the soaking completes, add a bit more.
Do not dump water to the pot. Never allow the soil to dry completely.
See more Grow Supplies
Plants including the indoor plants need fresh air to get rid of their wastes and grow. Fresh air means the air should be from smoke and other pollutants. The concentration of carbon dioxide should be between 350 and 450 ppm (parts per million) in the fresh air. You can use CO2 meters to measure the concentration of carbon dioxide in the air. If your house is not ventilated, you can use CO2 tanks. The tanks carry a timer and a tap to control the amount of carbon dioxide in the room. You can also use CO2 stoves. The CO2 stoves burn liquid propane gas or natural gas and give off CO2. Do not overdose CO2 without adding water and light.
Plants transpire, meaning, they sweat. The transpired water vapor should be removed to keep the plants healthy. If your house is well ventilated, the vapors evaporate and the plants stay healthy. If there is no free air flow in your house, you should remove these vapors to keep your plants healthy. Use a fan to circulate the air inside. This will remove the water vapors from the plants. If you do not remove these vapors, the plants become infested with germs and fungi.
Most of the house plants can survive without nutrients. However, adding the right nutrients will keep them healthy. Plants need 16 elements for their growth. Of these 16, carbon, oxygen and hydrogen are the key elements and are required in large quantities. The indoor plants get these elements from the air. Apart from these elements, they also need NPK elements; nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous in large quantities. Plants obtain NPK elements from the soil. The secondary nutrients required are magnesium, calcium and sulfur – in small quantities. Micro nutrients required are chlorine, copper, boron, iron, manganese, zinc, molybdenum, etc.
You need not worry about carbon, oxygen and hydrogen. Fresh air should provide these elements. You only need to focus on NPK elements. Plants obtain NPK elements from the soil. Make sure your soil is rich in these three elements.
Nitrogen provides the proteins and also helps in building chlorophyll, which plays a vital role in photosynthesis. Your indoor plants start to turn yellow if there is no nitrogen in the soil. Also, nitrogen is easily washed away when you water the plants.
Phosphorous is essential for a healthy root. Deficiency in phosphorous affects the growth of the plants and makes them stunted. Also, lack of phosphorous turns the stems and foliage purple. The phosphorous is naturally present in the soil. However, it becomes unavailable if the pH of the soil becomes imbalanced. Using salt water may change the pH level of the soil.
Potassium helps in the growth of the plants and also helps them fight against diseases. Deficiency in potassium results in yellowing of the edges and veins. Always add the right amount of potassium. If you over apply potassium fertilizers, they make the other nutrients unavailable.
Use NPK fertilizers in the right quantity. Each plant requires a different amount of NPK. Find out its requirements before you apply NPK fertilizers to your indoor plants.
Invest enough time to care for your plants. The indoor plants require attention just like any other plant in the garden. However, the maintenance and care required for the indoor plants is less than the garden plants. If you are a busy person and cannot take time to care your plants, then you should go for succulent plants or cactus. If you can give enough time to care your indoor plants, ferns and orchids are your choice.
Make sure you choose the right growing equipment at CanadaGrowSupplies.com