Indoor plants are grown when there is inadequate space outdoors, weather does not permit growing or for decorative purposes. Soil conditions, light, and other environmental factors are different indoors, meaning that different plant care considerations are in order for the success of the plant. Choosing the right container, potting soil and location determines the plant's ability to survive.
Indoor plants are chosen according to their ability to survive in the indoor environment your house or apartment provides. The Virginia Cooperative Extension suggests inspecting all plants for pest problems or indications of disease. Plants require healthy foliage that is not wilted or yellow. The light requirements of the plant are indicated on the growing instructions, which require inspection before determining whether your growing area will provide enough light for the plant.
Containers for indoor plants need drainage holes on the bottom to prevent overwatering of the root system of the plant. Root rot is a common issue in houseplants. Containers that were previously used must be washed with a solution of 1 part bleach to 9 parts water to disinfect the material. Containers should be big enough to contain the root ball of the plant, allowing for root growth, but should not be too large as this makes watering inconsistent. Containers are available in metal, clay, wood and plastic, as well as other materials.
Keep your plant in the correct amount of light to ensure the best growth. Plant varities differ greatly in their light requirement needs. Natural light can be adequate for some indoor plants when placed directly in front of a window sill, says the Purdue University Extension, but when a plant requires full sunlight and a southerly facing window is not available, growing lights may be required. "Broad spectrum" fluorescent lamps are available at many good gardening centers or online retailers for plant growth. Fluorescent lamps are placed 10 to 14 inches above the plant for those with medium light needs. A combination of one cool white light fluorescent lamp and one warm white light will usually suffice.
Indoor plants often require more watering than those outside due to the absorptive nature of the container and the dry conditions indoors. Tapping the pot to see if it sounds hollow is one way to check whether the plant needs watering, or checking the first 1/4 inch of the soil to see if it is moist is also suitable. Indoor plants should be watered slowly until water drains out of the bottom of the pot. If the pot has a drainage tray, allow the plant to sit in the tray for a few minutes to absorb the water. The water in the tray requires draining to prevent the plant from becoming waterlogged.
A plant that has a lot of leaves or stems will require more fertilizer than those with minimal growth, says the Virginia Cooperative Extension. Water soluble fertilizers that are suitable for growing plants indoors are available at most garden centers. Water soluble fertilizers are applied at the recommended rate for fast growing plants such as tomatoes, while reduced in half for slow growing plants such as cacti. Slow release fertilizers are also available, which let you fertilize the plant once or twice a season depending on the formula.