Growing indoor plants can be a good gateway to the gardening world. But until you develop those green fingers, it may be a little overwhelming as you try to wade through all the information, make the right choices, and care for your indoor plants correctly.
The guide aims to cover the basics, helping you to make key decisions and meet with success in growing indoor plants wherever you live.
Choosing Indoor Plants
First things first, if you want to grow plants indoors, you will have to decide which plants to grow. There are three important questions to ask yourself before you zero in on the correct choices for you:
Are You Growing Edible or Ornamental Indoor Plants?
Different people have different priorities. You may wish to focus on growing your own food. Or you might wish to grow ornamental plants which enhance your living area and help clean the air inside your home.
When you think of indoor plants, you may think about Monstera, succulents, air plants, Philodendron, or other indoors foliage plants or flowers.
But it is worthwhile noting that many common herbs, and many other common fruit and vegetable crops can also be grown as indoor plants. They can work just as well inside in pots or other containers as they do when grown outside in your garden.
Are You Sowing Plants Indoors or Growing Indoors Year-Round?
Another key decision to make is whether you are looking to sow plants indoors and keep them indoors for a shorter period before transferring them outdoors, or growing them inside on a longer term footing.
One great way to make sure that you can grow as much as possible and obtain higher yields from your edible garden is to start seeds inside early in the year. But you will care for these somewhat differently than plants that will remain in containers year-round.
Are You Growing Indoors or Growing Undercover in a Greenhouse or Polytunnel?
You also need to decide whether you are growing indoors plants inside you home, or planning on growing them in an undercover structure in your garden. If you are growing indoor plants in such a structure, you also need to consider whether it will be heated or unheated.
Many of the plants which you can grow inside your home might also be grown in a polytunnel or greenhouse. Having an undercover growing area will dramatically increase the number of plants that you are able to grow.
Such a structure can also make things easier when it comes to providing suitable conditions for certain plants year round. Certain plants might be grown in a polytunnel in summer, for example, then placed indoors over the winter months.
The Characteristics of Indoor Plants – What You Need To Know
Once you have decided where you will grow your plants, and have a rough idea of the types of plant you might wish to grow, it is simply a case of matching up the growing conditions that you can provide with the characteristics and growing needs of specific plants and varietals.
In order to choose the right plants for the right places, you need to know about the characteristics of any plants you may be considering.
The key things you need to know are:
- The plants appearance and growth habit. (Will it grow tall or sprawl out? How big will it get and how quickly? What are its roots like and how much space do they need?)
- How much light the plant needs.
- What temperatures the plant requires. (How hardy it is).
- The plant’s preferred humidity levels.
- What soil/ potting mix the plant prefers. (Moist or free draining? Fertile? Ph level?)
- How much water the plant needs, and how frequently.
A good place to begin is by looking at where plants come from, and the conditions in which they grow in the wild. This will give you a range of clues about how and where you can make them happy.
How To Grow Indoor Plants – Key Tips
By the time you have decided which plants to grow, you should have a much clearer idea about the conditions that they need. Of course, care requirements will vary considerably depending on which specific indoor plants you have chosen to grow.
But here are some key tips to help you grow plants indoors successfully:
Choosing Containers for Indoor Plants
When choosing containers for indoor plants, you should consider their size, and perhaps also the size to which they will eventually grow. It is important to note that choosing a container that is too big can be just as damaging to plants as choosing one that is too small.
However, as a general rule, the larger the container, the less watering and overall maintenance and care they will require. Larger pots will dry out less quickly, and provide nutrients for longer than smaller ones.
Size is not the only thing to think about when choosing a container. The material from which the pot is made, and even its colour, can play a role in determining its suitability for growing a specific plant.
Make sure that, for most plants, the containers have adequate drainage holes at the base to allow excess water to drain away freely.
Remember, if growing indoors only for a while before transplanting to your garden, biodegradable pots could be a good option. And with a soil blocker, you might not even need pots at all.
Whichever plants you are growing, considering reclaimed items for use as containers and using things that might otherwise be thrown away is always a good idea.
Choosing a Potting Mix for Indoor Plants
If you want to grow indoor plants in an eco-friendly and sustainable way, it is always important to select plants, and grow plants, in peat-free compost.
The specific compost or potting mix that you choose will depend on the stage of growth of the plants that will be grown in it, the needs of those specific plants, and how long the plants will remain in those pots.
For seeds, a seed based compost mix or homemade equivalent will yield best results. Acid loving plants will require ericaceous potting mix. Plants grown longer-term in containers will appreciate a loam or soil based peat-free potting mix.
Where to Place Indoor Plants
When choosing where to place indoors plants, always think about their needs with regard to light, temperatures and humidity levels.
Different indoor plants will do well in different locations within your home or other growing areas. Some, for example, like a spot as light and bright as possible (like a sunny, south or west facing windowsill). Others will do well deeper into your home, out of direct light.
Some like drier, well-ventilated spaces, while others need a more humid spot like a bathroom or a spot close to a kitchen sink.
Watering Indoor Plants
When watering indoor plants, refer to the needs of the specific plant or plants to find out what they like and need. Some plants will obviously need more water than others.
You should, if possible, use rainwater to water indoors plants. As a general rule, you should also aim to water from below, or aim at the potting mix and not the leaves when watering. Another general rule is that it is usually better to water deeply, and less often, rather than little and often.
Fertilising Indoor Plants
Fertilising your indoor plants is another important element of their care. Remember, not all plants have the same requirements. Some will need regular feeding, others will not. But whenever you do fertilise your indoor plants, be sure to always choose organic options.
Elizabeth Waddington is a writer and green living consultant living in Scotland. Permaculture and sustainability are at the heart of everything she does, from designing gardens and farms around the world, to inspiring and facilitating positive change for small companies and individuals.
She also works on her own property, where she grows fruit and vegetables, keeps chickens and is working on the eco-renovation of an old stone barn.
To get in touch, visit https://ewspconsultancy.com.