11 Gardening Tips for Indoor Plants

Limited space outside? Get the green thumb you’ve always wanted with our helpful guide to gardening for indoor plants!

Published Categorized as Gardening

In the world of indoor cultivation, where the sun’s rays are scarce, the temperature’s warm, and the air’s still, one must tread with caution. For not all flora are equally suited to the sedentary life within.

But fear not, dear gardener, because with the essential tips you’re about to read, your parlor will bloom with verdant splendor — a testament to your green thumb’s prowess.

1. Choose the Right Plants

Select wisely, dear gardener, because the success of your indoor Eden rests upon the shoulders of the flora you choose. Consider the light and temperature of your home — these elements are the lifeblood of plants. Opt for those that flourish in bright, indirect sunlight, and those that thrive in the temperatures that surround you.

And don’t forget, the size of your plants must match the scale of your space.

With the perfect plants selected, it’s time to turn your attention to the foundation of their growth: the soil and pot. Choose a soil mix that caters to the needs of your plant and ensure the pot’s size complements its root system. A pot too large may lead to rot, and one too small, will stunt growth. A harmonious balance must be struck, as the health and the flourishing of your indoor garden depends upon it.

2. Use the Right Potting Soil

To nourish the earth-bound souls in our indoor paradise, you must choose soil of the highest caliber. That soil is potting soil — soil specifically blended to provide plants with the vital trinity of water, air, and nutrients.

Each plant has its own preference, and thus, it’s crucial to match the soil to the plant. Cacti and succulents demand a well-drained soil, light and porous, while tropical plants crave a heavier soil, one that holds moisture with a tender embrace. The key to success lies in this marriage of plant and soil.

The importance of the soil cannot be overstated.

Soil that’s imbued with the right balance of nutrients, water, and air, free from weeds, fungi, and harmful chemicals is an absolute necessity. Ensure that the soil you choose is untainted by pests or pathogens, as these invaders can wreak havoc on your plants.

And lastly, pay heed to the pH balance of the soil. The acidity or alkalinity of the soil is the foundation upon which the optimal growth of your plants is built. With the right soil and proper care, the flourishing of your indoor garden is all but guaranteed. Without it, it is almost certainly doomed beyond salvation.

3. Pot the Plants Correctly

The proper potting of plants can mean the difference between a lush oasis and a wilted wasteland.

Choose a pot fit for the size of the root system, with drainage holes allowing the proper flow of water, and thus avoiding the bane of all indoor gardening: root rot. As you plant, ensure the soil is well-aerated, rich in nutrients, and imbued with a potting mix of the highest quality.

They say you can have too much of a good thing. And in this way, do all you can to avoid over-potting. When the roots are cramped and confined, growth is hindered and health deteriorates. Before upgrading the pot, consider if it is truly necessary. And when transplanting, choose a pot of similar size and shape to the previous one, as this will ease the transition for the plant, minimizing shock and maximizing the chances of success in your indoor gardening endeavors.

4. Optimize the Lighting

Light — the very essence of growth and vitality — is of paramount importance in the realm of indoor gardening. Each plant has its own specific needs, and the harmonious blend of natural and artificial light is the key to success.

Consider the hours of direct sunlight each day, and place the plants accordingly. Specifically, for those that require ample sunlight, a window or skylight facing east, south or west is ideal. For those that need less, artificial lights, such as fluorescent or LED, can provide the necessary illumination. Position these lights at a distance of 12 to 18 in (30 to 45 cm) from the plant and adjust the height to suit the needs of the specific plant. Additionally, ensure a balance of cool and warm light is provided. And lastly, ensure that the plants receive a minimum of 10-14 hours of light per day.

5. Water Prudently

Water, the elixir of life, is a crucial component in the care of indoor plants.

To provide the right amount, understand the individual needs of each plant and the container in which it resides. Observe the soil, and water when the top layer is dry. For most plants, this will mean watering once or twice a week, however, the frequency can vary depending on the plant. Succulents, for example, prefer less frequent watering.

Research the needs of each plant in your garden and water accordingly.

Once the time to water has come, make sure to do so thoroughly. Slowly pour water into the container until it begins to drain out of the bottom, thus ensuring the roots are saturated. Be cautious not to over-water, as prolonged dampness can lead to rot and the demise of your plants.

Empty any excess water that may collect in the tray beneath the container. Never water from above — this can lead to damp foliage and the spread of disease. Consider using a soil moisture meter to take the guesswork out of watering, this will help you to know exactly when your plants need hydration.

6. Ensure Good Air Circulation

Good air circulation is vital for the health of indoor plants. Poor airflow can lead to the development of diseases such as powdery mildew and fungal diseases.

To keep your plants thriving, ensure that there is adequate airflow. In most households, this is best achieved by placing plants a few feet away from fans, air conditioners, and windows or doors. Open the windows and doors in your home frequently to allow fresh air in and create a nice breeze.

Placement of plants plays a crucial role in ensuring good air circulation. Avoid overcrowding, and provide ample space for air to circulate freely instead. Utilize a trellis or a stake to support plants and provide extra space, this can also help improve air flow.

Keep plants away from sources of heat or steam, such as radiators or the air conditioning units in winter, to ensure good air circulation and promote health. And lastly, keep your plants free of debris and dust, as this will further aid in ensuring good air flow.

7. Fertilize, Fertilize, Fertilize

Fertilization is an essential step in maintaining the health and lushness of your indoor plants. Each plant has its own specific needs in terms of types and amounts of fertilizers.

Heed the instructions on the packaging of fertilizers to ensure that you are providing the right amount for each plant. It’s better to use a weaker fertilizer more frequently than a stronger one less often, because this will ensure that your plants are getting the necessary nutrients without the risk of over-fertilization.

You can also use liquid or powder fertilizer, or why not compost, to provide your plants with the nourishment they require.

If you want your indoor plants to thrive like the green-thumbed prodigies they were meant to be, you have to give them the right type and amount of fertilizer. But it isn’t just about what you give them, it’s about when you give it to them.

Timing, dear reader, is key.

Generally speaking, fertilizing your indoor plants every 2-4 weeks is a good rule of thumb, but don’t take that as gospel. Some plants may need more, some may need less. You have to check the instructions on that fertilizer packaging.

8. Prune and Trim

Pruning and trimming are like the bread and butter of the trade.

Pruning is the process of cutting away the deadwood, the overgrown branches, leaves and stems. It’s like giving a plant a good haircut. It helps to promote healthy growth, and can make an older plant look like new again.

Trimming is a different matter. It’s like sculpting a plant to your liking. You shape and control the growth to keep it looking neat and tidy, to keep it the size and shape you want. Together, pruning and trimming are essential in keeping your indoor plants healthy and beautiful.

When pruning or trimming indoor plants, it is important to use sharp, clean tools. This will prevent the spread of disease and infection from one plant to another.

When pruning, it is generally best to cut away only the affected parts of the plant, such as dead or overgrown parts. It’s also key to remember to leave enough of the plant for it to be able to produce new growth in the future. Trimming should be done with care and precision, as it can be easy to accidentally remove too much of the plant.

9. Pay Attention to Temperature and Humidity

If you want a thriving indoor garden, keep an eye on the temperature and humidity. It’s like the weather, it can make or break your plants. Temperature plays a big role in plant growth, and you have to remember that plants are temperature-sensitive. Too much heat or cold can do more harm than good.

The ideal temperature for most indoor plants is like Goldilocks: not too hot, not too cold, but just right. Aim for around 65-75°F (18-24°C) during the day, and 55-65°F (12-18°C) at night. A simple thermometer can help you keep an eye on the temperature and make adjustments accordingly.

And don’t forget about humidity, that’s another factor that can make or break your indoor garden. It’s like a dance, you have to keep it in balance. Too much humidity can cause mold and mildew to grow like wildfire, and too little humidity can cause your plants to dry out and wilt like a desert.

Here too, good tools are of the essence. You can use a hygrometer to keep an eye on the humidity levels. If it’s too low, below 40%, you might consider using a humidifier to give it a boost. But if the humidity levels are too high, above 70%, you have to take steps to reduce it.

You can use a dehumidifier or move your plants away from sources of excess moisture like bathrooms and kitchens. Balancing the humidity is crucial for a healthy indoor garden.

10. Inspect for Pests

Pests can be a real thorn in the side of indoor gardening. You have to keep a watchful eye on your plants, like a hawk. Regularly inspecting them for any signs of those pesky critters.

What are the signs, you may be wondering? You might see holes in the leaves, discoloration, molds, or webbing. If you spot any of these, you’ve got to act fast, before it’s too late.

There’s natural pest control products out there that are safer for your plants and the environment. Or you can use something like neem oil or insecticidal soap to get rid of those pests. And don’t forget about the good insects, like ladybugs, they can help keep those infestations under control. And last but not least, make sure to keep your plants away from any doors or windows to prevent those pests from getting in in the first place.

11. Re-pot When Necessary

When you’re taking care of indoor plants, remember that you have to re-pot them whenever necessary. Re-potting is like giving your plants new clothes. Yes, it can be a daunting task, but it is essential for the health of your plants. It gives them a new lease on life.

Plants can become root bound if they’re in the same pot for too long, like a fish in a small bowl. The roots get crowded, and the plant can’t access the nutrients it needs, it struggles to grow. And we don’t want that, we want our plants to thrive. So, when you notice your plants are looking cramped, it’s time to give them a new home, re-pot them.

When re-potting, the size of the new pot is crucial.

It can nary be too small nor too big, it has to be just right. If the pot becomes too small for the roots, it’s time to give your plants a new home, a larger pot. And don’t forget to check the soil, if it’s compacted, that’s a sign that it’s time for a change. Drainage is crucial for a healthy plant.

When you’re re-potting, make sure you’re using the right kind of potting mix. It ought to be appropriate for the type of plant, so it has access to all the necessary nutrients. And after you’ve done the re-potting, don’t forget to water your plant, and do give it some time to dry out before watering it again.

Final Words

Now, dear readers, don’t you go forgetting the most important part of indoor gardening. The reason you’re doing all this work in the first place, the fruits of your labor. You are not just doing this to pass the time — you’re doing it to enjoy the beauty, the freshness, the life that your plants bring. Take a moment to stop and smell the roses, or the basil, or the mint, or whatever it is you got growing.

Take the opportunity to appreciate the colors, the textures, the shapes of the leaves. Listen to the rustling of the leaves as the wind blows through them. Watch the way the light dances on the leaves, the way the shadows play on the walls. You’re not growing plants, you’re creating a little piece of heaven, a sanctuary, a refuge of sorts from the hustle and bustle of the world outside.

Because, at the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?

By Joe Walken

Gardeville contributor who finds pleasure in branching out with humor and horticulture.