A trend that's booming for green-thumbed housekeepers today is keeping an indoor garden. It may sound impractical for some, as keeping a garden outdoors is enough work, what more if it's inside your home. Taking care of an indoor garden is indeed hard work, but the payoff is fantastic. For one, having an indoor garden can reduce your stress.
A hard day's work is more than enough to tire down a person. When that person goes home, you'll expect that they are tired and want to rest immediately. When they wake up, it's the same old boring routine. With an indoor garden, though, you'll look forward to going home. Your morning will also be much greater.
Imagine this: You wake up from a stressful day at work. You find yourself sipping on a cup of coffee. You smile as you see your garden plants healthily growing. Now, who wouldn't want that? Aside from an effective stress reliever and a practical Home Decor, your indoor garden can also house plants that bear fruit.
Some plants can also have medicinal purposes, which can be excellent additions to your indoor garden. Since they're plants, some of them can also be edible. In fact, people who cook delicious food often get the spices and herbs they need from their garden.
If you bring your garden inside your home, then it'll be more beneficial as it's closer to you. There won't be any weather that'll stop you from taking care of your plants. Here are some tips to start your indoor garden.
Choosing the Right Plants
First off, it's essential to understand that indoor gardens should always have plants that can survive and adapt indoors. Certain plants can't live properly inside homes due to limited sunlight and inadequate soil conditions.
However, with a few tweaks and the right plant choices, a garden can surely flourish even if it's inside your home. I'll provide a list of indoor plants that you can include in your garden at the end of this guide.
The Right Soil Conditions
A lot of people overlook the importance of soil and focus mostly on watering them. However, without the right soil conditions, a plant can't survive. For the best soil, try choosing a high quality indoor potting soil. Soil that's been prepared for indoor gardening contains a high content of peat moss, perlite, and vermiculite.
You can also try and mix in some nutrient-rich garden soil, which is ideal for outdoor gardening. Don't add too much though, as garden soil is often heavy and dense. It also doesn't allow moisture to dry out quickly, which can lead to mold. Molds can often attack plants and cause them to die out. Too much moisture also leads to diseases and other bacteria that harm your indoor plants.
Always consider the soil type you're using. There certain soil qualities that specific plants also need. For example, cactus often love thriving in dry soil. This means that you can use soils with a sandy composition for most succulents. Since most cacti prefer dryer conditions, using soil that has silt or clay in it can hold too much water, which can cause a cactus to suffocate.
As mentioned earlier, water is one of the key elements that plants need to survive, whether it's outdoors or indoors. Water is essential for a plant because it helps carry nutrients throughout the whole plant. These nutrients come from the soil.
Water also helps plants maintain their form. Too little water in the cells of a plant can cause a plant to droop down. Without water, plants can't create their food through photosynthesis. Here are some signs that your plant needs water:
- Dry Soil
- Drooping Leaves
- Stunted growth
- Discoloration on leaves and stems
- Leaves dry up and curl
- The whole plant begins to droop
However important is it may sound, too much water for a plant can also be a bad thing. Plants that have too much moisture around them can invite disease, mold, and bacteria. Too much water substantially cuts off the oxygen supply that the roots of the plant need to function correctly. Without oxygen, the roots can rot and cause the plant to die. In a sense, a plant can also drown with too much water.
As watering is mostly the focus point of most inexperienced gardeners, some may don't know what overwatering does to a plant. Here are some warning signs that your plants can give off if you're overwatering them.
- The plant looks wilted, but actually has plenty of water
- The tips of leaves turn brown
- Softer, limp leaves
- Soft and plump stems
- Edema or blisters form on the leaves
- Falling leaves
- For cacti, the whole plant begins to soften and rot
As you can see, plants need a careful balance of water to thrive. Without a steady and calculated approach, a plant can suffer greatly because of little or too much water. A plant that's growing well is a sign that it receives an adequate amount of water.
One of the challenges that indoor gardeners often face is the lack of sunlight. You must place your garden in an area inside your home that gets a lot of sunlight. Sunshine, along with water and soil, is an essential factor for plants to grow. Plants need the right amount of sunlight to produce food through a process known as photosynthesis.
There six steps in photosynthesis. The process begins when carbon dioxide and water make their way into the plant. The carbon dioxide enters the plant through its leaves, while the roots absorb water and other nutrients in the ground.
The next step involves the sunlight hitting the plant. As the light hits the plant, chemical reactions inside the plant split the water and form oxygen. Oxygen is a waste product from photosynthesis and is released into the atmosphere by the plant.
As the electrons move down towards the enzymes of the plant, sunlight hits additional molecules that convert ADP(Adenosine diphosphate) into ATP(Adenosine triphosphate). ATP and ADP are important chemicals for every almost every living thing on earth.
The ATP formed by the molecules is then used by the plant to convert carbon dioxide molecules gathered from the atmosphere into glucose, which in turn, used by the plant for its nutrition. As you can see, sunlight is a crucial element for a plant to grow.
If you're depriving your indoor plants of sunlight, you are essentially starving them. Here are some signs that your plant needs a bit of sunshine:
- Leaves turn yellow
- The plant becomes mushy and weak
- The plant grows long and tall but is very thin. This could mean that the plant is trying to reach higher to get more sunlight.
Again, it's important to note that everything should be given out in the right amounts. Too much sunlight for a plant can dry it up faster, making it wilt.
Since most plants also need the right temperature to grow, it's essential that you also emulate the correct temperature inside your home. Most indoor plants come from tropical and subtropical climates that often have temperatures ranging from 60°F to 75°F.
Most healthy plants also grow when the temperature drops at night time. For other subtropical plants that aren't that tolerant of too much heat, you can try placing them near the windows come night time.
When it comes to planting fertilizer, you must know about the three primary plant nutrients. These are Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium. For indoor plants, the perfect ratio that most experienced indoor gardeners recommend would be 10-10-10, or 20-20-20. These numbers mean that nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium all have equal parts of 10 or 20 in the fertilizer mix.
For beginners, you should get fertilizers in the form of slow-release tablets. You can use these tablets by putting one in the soil near the plant. These fertilizers only need to be put once. In fact, cacti and most other indoor plants only need a minimal amount or even no fertilizer at all to grow and develop(given that the conditions are right).
Again, it's best that you're using fertilizers with extra care. It can be very easy to burn a plant using fertilizers. For small potted plants or succulents, you might even need to break off a small piece of a slow-release tablet so it can't cause any harm. As you may have noticed, the most important thing that's continually being mentioned in this article is a balance. The right balance of everything will allow your plant to grow and develop properly.
One of the things that you'll be keeping your eyes on is the potential pests that your plants will attract. Aphids are one of the most common and notorious pests out there, which can cause extensive damage to gardens and even whole plantations. Aphids are small, round insects with long antennae and two slender tubes protruding from their rear.
These insects come in different colors: Pink, yellow, green, gray, and can even be black or white. Aphids often feed on everything they see in a plant — leaves, fruits, stems, flowers, etc. A plant can grow weak and eventually die from a severe aphid infestation.
What makes these insects annoying is that they can grow wings when they've consumed their current food source. The ability to grow wings certainly is a headache for most indoor gardeners as most plants are near each other. You can save your indoor garden from a severe infestation in two ways: Pesticides or going natural.
When you use pesticides, be sure that no other living thing comes into contact with your plants, even you and your family should stay away from your plants for a while. There are lots of cases where house pets such as cats and dogs accidentally get poisoned because of pesticides. These chemicals are readily available in the market.
If you want to use less harmful pesticides, you can undoubtedly go DIY. Combine 15ml of mild dishwashing liquid with 1 or 2 ounces of warm water. For an extra punch, try adding cayenne pepper to your solution.
You could also put in essential oils such as peppermint, rosemary, and orange. Not only does it help kill off pesky insects, but it also gives your house a fragrant smell. Be warned though: any pesticide can quickly kill off beneficial insects, so choose your targets well.
Going the natural method means that you'll enlist mother nature herself. Some pests, such as aphids, have natural predators that can eat them off. Although not pictured as a vicious predator, Ladybugs are relentless when it comes to eating annoying aphids and other garden pests.
Try introducing them into your garden by using plants that can attract them: Parsley, geraniums, Sweet Alyssum, and Queen Anne's Lace. If predators aren't your thing, you can also use plants that give off intense aromas. Plant onions, garlic, oregano, and sage near your indoor plants, and you'll be sure to fend off any insect infestation.
Now that you have an idea of how to take care of your very own indoor garden, here comes the fun part: The plants. As mentioned earlier, not all plants can live indoors. You have to choose the right plants that can adapt well to a modified environment.
Based on purpose, the list will split the plants into three categories: Aesthetics, Beneficial, and Food/Medicinal Purposes. Here are 15 plants that you can grow in your indoor garden.
Plants under this group are mainly used for their looks. These plants are excellent focal points for an indoor garden. Aside from their looks, these plants are very easy to take care of.
Since there are many types of cacti are suitable indoor plants, I'll be including the most ideal for indoor gardens. Once you see a cactus, you can't help but notice how marvelous its needles look. In actuality, these needles are the cactus' leaves.
Cacti are not hard to take care of. You don't have to water them often as most species of cacti only need to be watered once or twice every few weeks. Excellent cactus varieties that you can put inside your house are Barrel Cactus, Bishop's Cap, Old Lady Cactus, African Milk Tree, Angel Wings Cactus, Saguaro Cactus.
Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-Sinensis)
One of the best flowering indoor plants you can get, the hibiscus is an excellent addition if you want a colorful look for your indoor garden. Its flowers can grow very large, which can become a good eye-catcher for your guests.
Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum)
With broad leaves and a strong, sturdy look, you can't go wrong with putting in peace lilies inside your indoor garden. Peace lilies often bloom and produce a flower that can add to its look. Although technically, it's not a flower, the colorful bract or modified leaf of the peace lily is enough to start a conversation with your visitors.
Swiss Cheese Plant (Monstera Deliciosa)
A plant that's native in Mexico, the swiss cheese plant is a staple for indoor gardeners. The plant is very easy to take care of and can grow quite fast with proper care. Its scientific name comes from its colossal size when fully developed hence "Monstera." The "Deliciosa" comes from the fact that it can bear fruit that tastes like fruit salad when fully ripe. Be careful though, unripe fruits from some varieties can be toxic upon consumption.
Another great flowering plant you can include in your indoor garden is the jasmine. Known for its white flowers and simple looks, several potted jasmine plants will also add fragrance inside your house as it smells excellent.
Spider Plant (Chlorophytum Comosum)
Unique plants that give off a pleasant, jungle-like feel indoors. These plants need sunlight, but can't tolerate direct heat from the sun. You can place Spider plants near windows.
Plants under these categories can help purify the air inside your house. These plants can filter out toxic substances that can harm a human if left untreated. A word of advice though, almost all plants in this category are poisonous themselves and aren't pet-friendly. Be sure to keep your pets and any children away that may try to eat or taste any part of these plants.
Rubber Fig (Ficus elastica)
The rubber tree or rubber fig is a plant that you barely have to take care of. Just water it once in a while, and it'll thrive. Most rubber figs are potted and can grow to full-size trees in time. Rubber figs can get rid of excess carbon dioxide in your home.
Happy Plant (Dracaena Fragrans)
The happy plant is perfect for indoor gardens as it can easily adapt to environments that don't get much sunlight. Dracaena Fragrans is also known as the happy plant because it displays its vibrant green leaves, despite not being taken care of. The plant can help filter out xylene and benzene.
Devil's Ivy (Epipremnum aureum)
Also known as the cubicle plant, pothos ivy, or the devil's ivy is a notoriously easy plant to grow. Since the devil's ivy can grow long vines, it's ideal to place them in hanging pots. These plants can also filter out benzene, formaldehyde, and toluene.
Plants under this category include common garden spices that can add flavor to your dishes. Some of the plants mentioned in this category are highly valued for their medicinal value.
Aloe Vera (Aloe vera var. Chinensis)
Aloe Vera is an excellent plant to include in your indoor garden. Most indoor gardeners have aloe vera plants as their favorite. The gel inside the aloe vera leaves can safely be eaten. It also contains antioxidants and can be used to remove wrinkles and dark spots. The gel or goo can also be used to treat first and second-degree burns.
Basil (Ocimum basilicum)
Most chefs and cooks often use basil in their dishes to add more flavor, especially for pasta dishes. Basil is very easy to grow indoors. All it needs is a bit of sunlight and regular watering. Whether it's dried or fresh basil leaves, this plant is a welcome addition to your indoor garden if you like cooking.
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Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
Another favorite culinary herb, rosemary, add fragrance, primarily when used in meat dishes. Along with basil, rosemary is a must-have for gardeners who love cooking with fresh produce. Its leaves or sprigs can either be dried or used fresh.
Croton Plant (Codiaeum variegatum)
Croton plants have colorful broad leaves that come in a burst of yellow, green, shades of red, and even purple. Croton plants are known to have antibacterial properties in their branches or stems that promote wound healing. Indigenous tribes from the Philippines break off the leaves from the stem and squeeze out a clear liquid, which they then drop on their wounds.
Oregano (Origanum vulgare)
Used mostly for its culinary value, oregano is an excellent indoor plant that also has a lot of medicinal purposes. Most people often use oregano leaves as a treatment for menstrual cramps, urinary tract disorders, and skin conditions such as acne.
Believe it or not, growing lavender indoors is very easy. During winter months, you only need to water the plant when the soil around it is dry. Using clay pots can also prevent root rot in lavenders. People use lavender and its oil for aromatherapy as it helps with sleeping problems.
As you can see, growing plants indoors isn’t that difficult. Always take note of having the right balance of everything: water, soil, sunlight, temperature, fertilizer, and pesticides. With the right amount of care and hard work, you can easily grow herbs, flowering plants, and succulents in the comfort of your home.
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Updated on 2020-01-16 - Images from Amazon API. Logos are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates.