Indoor plants have seen a resurgence in popularity on a scale not seen since the 1970s.
People are increasingly keen to connect with plants, whether it's starting a small-space urban garden on a window sill, a balcony or courtyard, adopting plant-based diets, being concerned and activists for the environment or using bamboo fibre homewares etc.
But mostly, people are realising that houseplants are an inexpensive and therapeutic way of bringing nature into their homes and a gentle form of self-expression.
Plant babies are often surrogate pets or real-life babies! When we all lead such busy, urban lives, that’s a very lovely thing. Urban dwellers are adopting houseplant nurturing in numbers that have seen their sales grow by about 2 per cent a year in a $1.3 billion retail nursery industry, and the biggest increase in buyers has been from the 18 to 35 age group.
Most of us live in cities, drive cars, and spend inordinate amounts of our time staring into lifeless screens. Virtually everything we see and touch as we move through our day is man-made, touching the foliage, tending to these “plant babies” calms us down and stills the mind.
Indoor plant care is often described as more challenging than their outdoor counterparts – this is due largely to the “artificial” environment these plants are brought into that suit their human parents but often not them!
Species requirements - Indoor plants die because owners haven’t researched the species’ requirements. Every plant needs water, light, air and soil (with the exception of air-plants and a few other varieties) to survive. How much you give each plant will vary from species-to-species.
Neglect – Indoor plants often die of neglect! In our busy lives let’s face it, tending to our charges can often be forgotten leading to a Niagara Falls style emergency dousing. Some plants will survive such deprivations being more forgiving, and others…well, we’ve all committed that crime of indoor plant homicide whether at home or at the office!
Too much attention – By this I mean over-watering, by far the most common cause of plant demise. Drowning leads to containers of yellow, limp sickly looking foliage.
Shock – Usually from moving it from one environment to another. If you must move them, try to reduce all other stresses, keep water, temperature, and light at ideal levels.
Not enough light– Will cause “leggy” plants. Don’t over-compensate, suddenly thrusting it into the sunshine.
Too much light – Shade loving indoor plants need low light positions.
Insufficient humidity- Indoor heating can cause this if watering is not an issue. Raise humidity levels by grouping plants together, sitting above water on a tray of pebbles (never in the water) and regular misting.
Too much fertiliser (or not enough) - Indoor plants need fertiliser when they are growing. If you apply slow-release fertiliser at the start of the growing season you are usually OK, but with some plants, you may need to top up with applications of liquid fertiliser.
Bugs, mites, scale, gnats – These may need some interventions (do try to find an organic solution) to control. Soil or fungus gnats are very common pests and can quickly become a major issue if an infestation gets out of hand.
Pot bound roots – Typically indicated by plant wilts rapidly, perks up after watering, but seems to wilt too quickly after watering. Plants purchased in containers at a garden centre may look fine in the store, but all too often they are root-bound—with dense roots that are tightly packed into the container.
Many people imagine that a plant with lots of dense roots is a better choice than a plant with sparse roots, but this is actually not the case. A root-bound plant often just keeps developing its roots in a tight circular fashion and never begins to send those roots out into the surrounding soil. The indoor plant eventually cannot draw enough water or nutrients due to the root congestion.
Our Root Pouch grow bags offer superior growing conditions for your plants, both indoors and out. Indoors they can be nested on a tray to prevent water from draining on to your flooring or the “pot-in-pot” method can be employed where the Root Pouch can be placed inside a decorative container. Root Pouch grow bags aerate your root zone and stop root circling by air pruning, helping your plant build a stronger root structure. Better roots mean higher resistance to pests and disease, and a faster-growing healthier plant.
Find out more about Root Pouch grow bags HERE
To water or not to water? That is the question (apologies to Shakespeare and your plants if you can’t answer that).
Knowing your indoor plant’s water requirements and adjusting that to the conditions in which it now lives is crucial to successful plant-parenting eg. Heating, air conditioning and sunlight will affect the amount of moisture in the soil and the plant’s overall requirement of hydration.
If employing overhead watering techniques, watering should only take place when the top of the soil is dry and according to the specific water requirements of your indoor plant species. This is very important to note – some require damp conditions, others drier, some require alternating periods of wet and dry! But busy lives can mean this is overlooked, and how much water is enough water?
With an olla vessel, your plant will draw its hydration requirements as needed. The porous terracotta will leach water slowly into the soil, never saturating it and only drawn by the surrounding water gradient and roots of your plant.
The Waterpot Spike has been designed to service your indoor plants being a narrow shape that fits conveniently into smaller pots, where the Waterpot Olla will not go. The only other item required is a repurposed small, long-necked bottle from the recycle bin that inverts to form a reverse water level indicator. You can read more about this in my Blog The Science of Olla Irrigation.
Some simple words of truth about maximising your space in a small space garden situation. Sharing the love of small space growing with the clients of APIA Australia recently talking about how to build a thriving garden on your balcony. The most common gardening myth is that you need space to build a garden - let's bust that myth!