In recent years, there seems to have been a remarkable surge in the number of people bringing the outdoors in by adorning their homes and offices with indoor plants. Be it near doors, on the stairs or in strategic locations in various rooms, indoor plants appear to be a growing trend, which is a great thing because, in addition to enhancing the aesthetics of living and working spaces, indoor plants have been found to improve air quality, reduce stress levels and enhance overall well-being. However, before choosing to invite a leafy companion into our rooms and cubicles, we must first ensure that we have the will, time and resources necessary to take care of them. Those who may not be able to put in the time and effort can opt for plastic plants that never wilt or die, but those who insist on having real living greenery in their personal and professional areas need to pay attention to a host of things.
One of the first things to look at is light. Different plants have different light requirements. For example, succulents and cacti do best in bright and direct sunlight and need at least six hours of natural light a day while snake plants can grow in shade. Meanwhile, plants like mother-in-law’s tongue thrive in low-light locations. We need to understand the kind of light the plant we seek to bring needs and manage its placement (windows, doors, desks, roofs etc.) accordingly. Otherwise, it may not survive. Along with light, we also need to look at temperature. Most houseplants are able to survive in house temperatures (ergo, their name). But we need to avoid exposing them to sudden temperature fluctuations. This means plants that have been thriving in rooms should not be abruptly moved to the roof or the basement.
Additionally, maintaining a suitable level of humidity is crucial, especially during dry winter months. Keeping plants close together, using a humidifier or placing a tray filled with water and pebbles near the plants can help increase humidity. Conversely, placing plants far apart and away from vents and keeping rooms sufficiently dry can help decrease humidity. We must also take care not to overwater or underwater our plants. Each plant has its own water needs, so it is essential to design a watering schedule in consultation with a botanist or a nursery worker. In general though, experts suggest watering indoor plants using the “soak and dry” method. Under this method, we are to water the plant thoroughly and then allow the soil to dry before watering it again. We can check the dryness of the soil by sticking our fingers into it and seeing if it gets wet or not.
And speaking of soil, selecting the appropriate soil for indoor plants is vital for their health. Well-draining soil with a good balance of organic matter is ideal. However, it might be better for us to simply buy nutrient-mixed soil from nurseries or greenhouses if we do not have much knowledge about plants and potting. Also, it is essential to repot plants when they outgrow their vases to provide their roots with enough space to grow. Fertilisers can also be great for indoor plants, provided you use them as recommended. Most people are tempted to use more than the suggested dosage because they think it will make their plants grow faster but that is absolutely not the case. Also, we must choose fertilisers that are safe for us. Our fertilisers must not be toxic to inhale and must not be dangerous to our pets and children.
Then, we have pruning. Pruning is an essential aspect of indoor plant care. We must regularly trim away dead leaves because it not only improves the plant’s appearance but also encourages new growth.
However, we must not cut haphazardly and pay great attention to our plant’s natural growth patterns when pruning. We should also regularly dust and wipe the plant’s leaves to remove dust and ensure they can photosynthesise efficiently. Indoor plants must also be protected from bugs and pests. Spider mites and aphids can cause headaches for plant keepers. So, we must keep an eye out for them. If pests are detected, we must act promptly to isolate the affected plants and use proper insecticides.
All in all, caring for indoor plants requires time, effort and resources. They must be treated with the same care and respect that we give our pets. With the right care, our indoor plants can flourish, providing us with a green oasis in our homes and offices and giving us a beautiful and tranquil space to live and work in.