Rules for Indoor Plants
By Sadira Sittampalam
Indoor plants should be a staple in every home. They are known for being very beneficial to our mental health, as when we are inside a man-made structure all day, our minds actually crave greenery. Indoor plants even help to destress you as they help reduce noise pollution and clean the air. Moreover, they are pretty easy to take care of, so if you haven’t already; consider getting some plants to brighten up your home and your mood. So here are some rules for how to properly take care of them.
Indoor plants are also known for being very affordable, meaning the smaller the plant, the less expensive it will be. The best indoor plants will be able to tolerate lower light and humidity, while also not growing too much as you wouldn’t want to keep pruning them. When you purchase your indoor plants, they often come in their pots, and you can probably keep them in these pots unless you need to change the pots for decorative purposes or the plant starts to get too big for its container.
There are some signs that a houseplant needs to be repotted. For instance, when the plant is noticeably outgrowing its pot, breaking the pot with roots coming out the bottom, the plant was growing but now has stopped and begun to develop yellow leaves, the plant cannot be removed from the pot. Once you have confirmed that the plant is getting too big for its pot, you should find a pot that is a couple of inches larger. If you move a tiny 4-inch plant into a 17-inch pot, the plant will not grow very much.
The next step is to add some soil to the bottom of the new pot, then remove the plant from the old plant, being weary of tearing any roots. The next step is slashing the roots slightly at their base in order to stimulate new root growth. This also stops the roots from growing in circles and choking the plant. For very small plants, a simple massage of the roots is better than slashing the roots. Finally, fill the rest of the pot up with soil and add some water.
However, before you decide on what pot fits your aesthetic, you must be aware of what makes a good indoor plant. The most important factor is your plant having a good root system. If it is a small plant, you can just gently pull the plant from its pot to check out its roots. Alternatively, if it is a bit larger, try moving out some soil so you can take a good look at its roots. Healthy roots are thick and light in colour. Another way to tell if the plant is suitable as an indoor plant is its foliage - if you can’t see through the foliage, it is thick enough. Lastly, you should check for disease; if you see white dots, sticky residue on the leaves, and a bad odor, the plant likely has pests or disease.
Some of the common reasons indoor plants die are when they are over or underwatered, given either too much or too little light or are simply neglected. This is why whenever you make a purchase, you need to do a little research on what its needs are and ensure that you meet them. In general, you should aim to keep your plant’s soil moist - the soil mustn’t be too wet or dry. You should also make sure the plant has drainage holes in the bottom of the pot as if you do end up overwatering the plant, there is space for the water to flow out of so it doesn’t stay in the pot and drown the plant’s roots. In addition to this, you should place your plant in a place that is more beneficial to it, rather than for your aesthetics. You must prioritise the plant’s needs, which are particularly relevant to sunlight.
But how do you know when it’s time to water your plant again? Well, there are some ways we can tell. One way is a soil probe, which will draw out soil, which will show you whether the soil is dry below the surface. Another way is using a moisture meter, which tells you on a scale, how dry the soil is. If you don’t want to get equipment to help you figure this out, there are other ways of telling such as lifting the plant. Heaviness signifies the plant has enough water, while lightness signifies that the plant is dry.
A very obvious way you can tell is if your plant is wilting, which typically happens because your plant isn’t getting enough water. If the plant is also showing leaf edges that are browning and crispy to the touch, the plant needs water. Alternatively, if the leaf edges are becoming brown but feel pretty mushy, the plant likely has gotten too much water. Yellow leaves may also signify that a plant has too much or too little water - however, there can be other reasons for this colour change, so pick the plant up and check its weight to make sure it is water or not.
If you are looking for fertiliser for your indoor plants, you should look for fertiliser with ‘indoor plant’ on the label. You will use a lot less fertiliser for plants inside your house versus outside, so ensure you use the rate specified for indoor plants. If you are getting fertiliser for blooming plants, look for a fertiliser labeled with the type of plant in particular. However, if it is unclear which one you should pick, it is fine to just use a general fertiliser for houseplants.
Finally, there will come a time in your indoor plant journey, where you are faced with bugs or pests on your plants. Bugs can be very annoying to deal with so make sure you are prepared for them. If you spot any pests, go to a store and purchase an insecticidal soap, which usually comes in a spray bottle. When you notice bugs, spray the entire plant - making sure to get the undersides of the leaves as well. Then, wait about two weeks and repeat the spraying. Do this again in another two weeks. You will want to repeat this process three times, as usual, the soap will not eliminate the eggs which could hatch. If your plant looks like it is dealing with a pretty serious infestation and you are unable to eradicate these pests with these methods, it is time to throw out the plant.
Remember that taking care of a plant is still something that should have a priority in your life. If you are the type of person to leave your home very frequently for days on end, this is probably not the best idea. Plants are basically low maintenance pets, but you still do need to maintain them. However, having plants in your home is such a rewarding thing. Not only does it instantly boost your mood, it also provides something for you to take care of and watch grow, which will naturally make you pretty happy.