How to Care for your Indoor Plants

One of the quickest ways to elevate your living space is with an indoor plant. Whether it is a pot of lush greenery standing in the corner or a vase of dainty flora centred on the table, a houseplant immediately ignites feelings of hospitality and comfort. Much like sitting in your garden or visiting a local park, it creates an atmosphere that is relaxing and cosy. Unfortunately, when your thumb is less than green, house plants may bring more stress than they soothe. The good news is, this does not need to be the case and, with the correct indoor plant care, it will not be ever again.

So, where do you start? Well, if you were going to adopt a pet, the first thing you would do is research your breed, and the same applies here. The best tool in your shed is knowledge, so take the time to investigate the options for your area. Some of the plants Adelaide climate is ideal for include Snake Plant, Peace Lily, and Philodendrons, to name just a few. Not only are these beautiful to look at, but they are low maintenance, making them perfect for beginners. They are not safe for animals, though, so avoid these if you have pets. In addition to guaranteeing your plant is not toxic to your fur babies, you need to see which plant best fits in with your lifestyle and your home. If you smoke indoors, Dracaena is the way to go. If your house does not offer a lot of natural light, plants that enjoy moderate light, like Devils Ivy, are great options. 

Once you have adopted your new houseplant, consider where you will be placing it. Plants like Aloe Vera love bathrooms, while the Fiddle Leaf Ficus loves any room with a large window. Most houseplants enjoy medium to bright sunlight and are best kept near the window rather than on the window sill. Incorrect positioning and overwatering are among the most common mistakes plant owners make. To avoid these blunders, you can;

  • Ensure your plants are not directly in the sun, even when they require plenty of bright light. A thin curtain over your window should do the trick. 
  • Keep the room well-ventilated and maintain an even temperature.
  • Pay attention to the sun and reposition your plants accordingly, most notably as the season’s change. 
  • Remember to adjust the amount of watering you do according to the seasons. Colder months require much less watering than hotter months.
  • Consider the humidity level in the room, as this plays a role in the amount of watering required. 
  • Use room temperature water when watering your plants. 
  • Use the correct sized planting pot. Monitor the growth of your plant, and increase the pot size as needed.

Some people recommend taking your plant outdoors from time to time, although this is not always the best idea. The lighting and temperature are a lot more intense outdoors than indoors, and you can unintentionally expose your plant to conditions that are too hot and bright or too cold for them to bear. 

The best pot to use is one with holes at the bottom and sitting on a tray (also called a flat) that allows the roots to breathe and reduce the risk of root rot. You can water the plant from above or directly onto the soil. You will know it is time to stop when you see water starting to fill the tray. Remove and empty the tray, and do not water the plant again until the plant has had sufficient time to drink. 

The best way to confirm if the plant needs a refill is with the same method used for checking a cake – put a stick through the soil, and if it is dry and clean when you remove it, then it is time to water again. Be careful not to let the plant run too dry – a rule of thumb is to make sure the topsoil is damp but not soaked or flaky. If you found the plant is not absorbing the water, your soil may be hydrophobic. In this case, replacing the potting mix is in order!

Finally, remember that plants are living organisms, and they will become rundown when they are not cared for, putting them at risk of developing diseases or dying completely. Keep your plant strong and healthy by following these simples rules;

  • Your plant absorbs the majority of the nutrients it needs from the soil, so do not skimp. Investing in good quality potting soil will start you off on the right foot and set you up for long-term success. 
  • After a while, the nutrients in the soil will run out. If you do not want to replace the entire potting mix, you can use liquid feed or slow-release fertiliser to revitalise the soil. 
  • The epidermis of the leaves and stems have small stomata, which are microscopic pores that aid transpiration. As dust and other particles in the air settle, these stomata can become blocked. Get into the habit of regularly wiping the leaves and stem with a damp towel to remove any smut and dirt. 
  • Every so often, take your plant into the shower for a few minutes, or spray it with a hosepipe. Not only does this help to clean any muck, but it also helps to get rid of any built-up waterborne salts.
  • Prune the plant regularly, and keep an eye out for signs of diseases, such as gooey leaves, white spots, or a foul odour.

A clear indicator that your plant is in good health is robust, flourishing foliage and thick, light coloured roots. While all this may sound complicated, a little bit of research and you will find that most household plants share similar requirements, with just a few minor exceptions. If you aren’t confident in your gardening abilities just yet, keep it simple and start with just one plant that requires minimal effort. A few of the easiest, pet-friendly indoor plants Adelaide has are the Birds Nest Fern, the Spider Plant, and Succulents. Succulents also have a wide range of styles that are easy to incorporate into any home design. They are also easy to grow from offcuts. 

When you maintain a healthy, well-kept plant, it offers health benefits to you in return. Indoor plants purify the air of toxins found in numerous household products, including formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, benzene, ammonia, and xylene. The oxygen levels in the air rise, helping reduce allergies, headaches, and stress levels. It also increases your productivity and improves sleep. 

In addition to the cleaner air, there is also more moisture, which improves dry skin and eases respiratory illnesses. Along with improving your overall health, it also uplifts your mood. With so many benefits to look forward to, coupled with your newfound expertise, nothing is stopping you from getting that indoor plant you’ve always wanted.