I absolutely love to garden and it brings me so much joy. As we go into the coldest seasons my craving for the garden moves Indoors. I garden for maintaining my well-being and that includes indoor plants. Today I’m specifically sharing tips for how indoor gardening can bring a sense of well-being into your home. Fresh air, lush greenery, beautiful flowers, and hands-on interaction with the texture and touch of the plants and soil are just some of why I love to garden and all of this can be done indoors or out.
I spend a bit of time tending towards my indoor garden each fall, bringing plants that have been outdoor for the summer in, pruning, fertilizing, and replacing any plants that need it. I “freshen up” my terrarium collection, cleaning the glass and replacing leggy or unwell plants so they can bring me joy all winter long, not to mention fresh air! In the spring, I do another freshen up, fertilizing, pruning, and preparing plants to spend the summer outdoors. When temperatures are about the same indoor and out and all chance of frost has passed (or as you get close to frost in the fall) is the perfect time to move plants in or out.
Many people don’t “think” they have a green thumb or that they can’t keep a houseplant alive. But there is no mistaking how popular indoor gardening has become again. Have you seen terrariums like the one above? I hope these tips will encourage you to try (or expand) your indoor garden which is especially nice to do after the holiday season is passed and before we open our homes again in the spring. It takes a little practice to find and maintain indoor plants in the ‘right spots’ but I hope you will keep trying. I’ve got a big leaf philodendron that’s over 20 years old! Here are some of the reasons to garden indoors.
- Plants are natural air filters! They literally clean toxins like formaldehyde, benzene, xylene, toluene, and trichloroethylene (among other toxins) from the air. Certain plants do a great job with certain chemicals but about 1 plant per 100 sq’ has been proven to significantly purify the air.
- Expressing personal style through plants and indoor gardening can add so much beauty to really round out your interior rooms.
- The act of caring for and nurturing a plant can be a meditative and calming practice.
- You are bringing a piece of nature’s beauty (and in some cases bounty) inside where you can appreciate it more often.
What can you grow successfully inside? Start by observing your surroundings and lifestyle habits since these are the two most important factors for plant selection. Determine which direction your house and windows face and have this information available when you go to select plants. Your success will be much enhanced by selecting the correct plant for your conditions.
Some factors to consider are light/exposure (N, S, E, or W windows?), humidity (you can always run a humidifier if needed), the time required for maintenance needs (watering, pruning, fertilizing, re-potting, etc), design style and colors in your home. Armed with this info you will be able to make the best selections for your space. If you have pets, check out the ASPCA list of pet-safe plants here. I find that my kitties love and find irresistible anything resembling grass, so pointed narrow leaves are especially attractive to them!
Do your research before you head out to buy anything, check out a variety of reputable local garden centers or floral shops (rather than big box shops), and talk to the people who work there. They can usually make excellent suggestions if you know the direction your windows face and the size and space you want to add plants too.
If you travel often and are super busy and have minimal light you will be making many different choices than someone who can spend a bit of time each day (5-10 mins) misting, watering, etc.
The little maidenhair fern above will dry out quickly and probably end up making you feel like a failure if you can’t give it daily attention. On the other hand, the ZZ Palm or Snake plant below both require low light and very little moisture to thrive. I love the website Gardenista for great images (those below), inspiration, and practical advice on the best houseplants for different settings (low light/low/maintenance, non-poisonous, you name it!).
The ZZ Palm above is great for low light: image via James Saper
Sansevieria or snake plant image via Gardenista
The biggest mistake people make with houseplants is overwatering (I worked in the tropical greenhouse of a local garden center). Let plants dry out completely before watering again deeply (there are some exceptions, like ferns). Potted plants are more quickly depleted of nutrients, so I generally re-pot every 2 years and the potting mix I use has a slow-release fertilizer in it or sprinkle a little slow-release once or twice a year (see package for the rate of use).
There literally is an indoor plant for just about every situation. Again though taking the specific factors of your situation into account will lead you to much more success. It’s also important to buy plants from reputable sources that are knowledgeable about both the plants they stock and helping you decide what’s best for your situation. A good source will help you select things given the information you provide and should tell you the proper name (both common and botanical), maintenance requirements, and any other information you might need. Ask questions and do a little homework before you head out shopping so you can make the best choice for yourself. Hopefully, the plants that you live with will bring you joy, a sense of calm and beauty, and even a bit of cleaner air to breathe.