Indoor plants: 5 tips for starting your indoor jungle
Growing indoor plants is hands down one of the most gratifying and enjoyable ways to spend time.
Plants improve the quality of air in your home by converting carbon dioxide into oxygen, and some even eliminate toxins. Having a snake plant (Sansevieria) next to your bed helps you get a good night’s sleep because it emits oxygen at night. Pretty cool, right?
Plants are amazing for my mental wellbeing. To be surrounded by living things that I’m nurturing is my kind of therapy.
Plants are beautiful to look at and add so much personality to a home.
It’s safe to say, I’m addicted.
At first I knew nothing about gardening or plants. I wanted a few plants around my apartment so I could give my little daughter a bit of nature indoors.
I bought a few, I killed a few.
But eventually I got the hang of it and started to pay attention to their needs. And now look at me. I went from dead succulents to having over 100 indoor plants and thus earning my status as the crazy plant lady.
My experience proves that anyone can grow an indoor jungle. If you’re keen to get started, here are five few tips based on what I’ve learned along the way.
1. Get the right indoor plants for your home and lifestyle.
Think about where you want your plants to go, how much light that spot gets throughout the day, and how much care you’re willing to give?
Don’t want to water weekly or even monthly? Stay away from ferns that require consistent moisture. Get a ZZ (Zamioculcas Zamiifolia) that thrives on neglect and can happily survive with watering once a month.
Don’t have enough light but want lush foliage? Don’t get a Fiddle Leaf fig (Ficus Lyrata) or a Monstera Deliciosa because they require a bright spot that get a lot of indirect morning or afternoon sun. Instead, invest in snake plants (sansevieria), or a large peace lily, which can tolerate medium light and still give you the jungle feels.
There’s a good list of 25 indoor plants that are almost impossible to kill on Good Housekeeping’s website.
2. Make sure you have drainage holes in pots.
The number one cause of plant fatalities is over-watering.
If a pot doesn’t have a drainage hole, the water has nowhere to go. The roots get soggy and they get something called root rot. Once that happens, there’s usually no going back.
A common symptom of overwatering is yellowing leaves. If you see this happening, pull the plant out and check that the roots are not black and mushy.
When you buy a plant it comes in a plastic pot with drainage holes at the bottom, which makes it easy to water outside, or at the sink before you pop it in a decorative pot.
If you’re watering the plant in it’s position, make sure it has a saucer underneath to collect excess water and empty it out after an hour. Leaving excess water pooled at the roots over time causes the plant to rot.
3. Dust the leaves.
Leaves cant breath if they are coated with dust. A damp cloth or a mini shower will be very appreciated by your plant friends. I admit I don’t do this often, but I do try to give them a wipe down at least every month.
4. Be prepared for pests on your indoor plants.
Some of the most common pests you’ll find on your indoor plants are fungus gnats, aphids, scale, thrips and mealy bugs. Sometimes they come in from an already infected plant that you’ve just bought from the nursery and sometimes they just happen due to weather and growing conditions. It’s always a good idea to isolate a new plant for a few days incase it has any little habitants on it. The good news is that they’re all treatable. There are many different chemical and natural treatments for each kind of pest. Google or your local nursery will be your best friend.
5. Get some supplies to get you started.
You’ll need a few things to keep your new plants happy, healthy and thriving for a long time.
- A small/medium watering can with long nozzle to be able to water directly on to the soil. I sometimes use an empty soda bottle with a tapered neck.
- Saucers for pots to collect excess water.
- A spray bottle or a mister for those plants that love humidity (Calathea, Ferns, Philodendrons).
- A pair of thin gardening gloves, or even disposable gloves for repotting if you are replanting into bigger pots. Some plants grow very quickly and need a bigger pot to keep roots from suffocating, or you might want to plant them directly into a decorative pot (with drainage holes).
You’ll have so much fun creating your indoor jungle, but I warn you, it’s addictive. You will never be able to stop at one.
Nature lovers who have kids should also read this article: Nature play: The benefits of outdoor play for child development.
Shereen Khan is a fashion stylist and designer. She lives in south Sydney with her daughter, surrounded by fabric and plants.