Having plants in your house is seriously a joy – not only do they look so beautiful and add to your house decor, but studies have also found that indoor plants increase the air quality and also productivity! That sounds good to me!
The biggest barrier most people have when buying plants is the fear or reality that they will end up killing their plants. Plants want to survive, so the majority of common houseplants are actually very simple to keep alive, you just need to know a few key things. And your mini urban jungle will flourish!
1. Choose the right plants
Let’s get off on the right foot. You might have a dream plant, but is it really right for your house or the climate you live in? Generally, most indoor plants that you can buy in your local area should survive in your environment, and if you’re not sure, talk to knowledgeable people at a local garden centre or nursery who will be able to point you in the right direction. If you’re completely starting out fresh, try growing some of these plants that are super hardy:
- Snake plant (mother-in-law’s tongue)
- Spider plant
- Succulents or cacti
- Monstera (fruit salad tree or Swiss cheese plant)
Also, start with a couple of plants, and then build your urban jungle. This will be more manageable for you and you will be able to see what works and what doesn’t work in your house.
2. Let them have light
It’s a fact. Plants need light. For those beautiful, green leaves to stay as beautiful, green leaves, they need to be able to photosynthesize, and this requires sunlight (among other factors). One of the biggest challenges for most indoor gardeners is the amount of light that they can get in their house. So in order to keep your plants healthy, move your plants every now and then to make sure they are getting enough light. Not all plants need direct sunlight either, so don’t worry if you don’t have a lot of direct sunlight on your plants. If your plants start to yellow, then this could be a sign that they aren’t getting enough light.
3. Don’t overwater
You are probably more likely to kill your indoor plant by over-watering it than under-watering it, so go easy on the loving. Every plant has different watering needs depending on the climate, the pot and the size of the plant too. For most houseplants, keeping an eye on the soil is a good judge, if it’s really dry, it’s time for a bit of water. If it’s still damp, then no need to water. On average most plants should be watered around once a week, and watering should be done by slowly pouring water around the soil at the base of the plant, waiting for the water to be absorbed by the soil. When water starts to run out of the bottom of the pot, stop watering and discard this extra water. Also, remember that in cold weather (winter) your plants will need less water than in hot weather (summer), so make sure you adjust accordingly.
4. Ensure good drainage
This is key. Especially if you are using decorative pots without drainage holes in the bottom. Your plants need good drainage. Not only does this stop the roots from getting too damp and rotting, but it also allows for air flow. When you are planting your plants in pots, make sure to loosely pack the soil – this will allow water (and roots) to be able to move within the soil. I normally choose pots with drainage holes at the bottom (and a small saucer), but if you do repot your plants to a pot without drainage holes in the bottom, add some small rocks or pebbles to the bottom of the pot to create a space for the excess water to drain. Soggy bottoms aren’t fun for anyone, including plants.
5. Feed your plants
Just like any other growing, living thing, plants also need food. Plants get the nutrients they need to survive from the soil they are growing in. Indoor plants have a much-limited supply of nutrients available to them in the place that they are planted compared with outdoor plants that have a big bed of soil, plus new compostable materials adding to the soil. As indoor plants are watered too, any excess water that comes out the bottom of the drainage holes is also taking valuable nutrients with it. So, make sure that at least every two weeks, your plants get a nice top up of nutrients, either using a fertiliser or some plant food. Liquid plant food is a great quick way to get your plant topped up.
6. Enjoy your plants
Probably the most important thing on this list. Having plants in your house or whatever space you are planting, is actually so nice. The pops of green are so beautiful, and they make me feel relaxed and serene. Growing your own houseplants can make you feel so satisfied and proud of your accomplishments, so remember to pat yourself on the back when you look at the urban oasis you are creating. But also remember that gardening is also a journey – it’s okay to feel stuck and need to ask for help! So don’t feel embarrassed or like a failure. Every gardener can tell you about a plant they’ve sadly killed, but also what they have learned for next time! So enjoy the process and enjoy your plant babies!