In the hands of a trained plantscaping professional, indoor plants become part of the interior space itself. More than just houseplants, they help define style and space. In busy lobbies and terminals, the placement of plants directs traffic flow and restricts access to certain areas. The success of any interior design using plants relies on the right choice, placement and care of plants.
Interior plants provide a connection with nature for people who spend more time indoors at work and at home, according to Margaret Burchett of the University of Technology in Sydney, Australia. When plants are part of that environment, they provide calming and restorative effects, she writes. Interior plants can also improve the environment, producing oxygen and consuming indoor pollutants like benzene and formaldehyde.
Choose plants that adapt easily to the lack of sunlight indoors and can be organized into groups that share cultural requirements. Pick dark green, bushy plants that fit the space they'll occupy. Shop for plants based on adult size, not juvenile size when buying them.
Supplement light with fluorescent or plant lights; there are only so many east-facing windows. Adjust temperatures so that you, your plants and your utility bill coexist peacefully; the Mississippi Nursery and Landscape Association, or MNLA, recommends daytime temperatures for most plants of 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Foliage plants prefer nocturnal temperatures between 60 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit and flowering plants flower longer at cooler nighttime temperatures down to 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Indoor plants are dependent for care. They should be potted in sterile soil and containers that drain easily. Soil should be kept moist, but never wet. Keep track of the plants that prefer to dry out between watering. MNLA recommends using a water-soluble fertilizer in a half-strength or less solution every two weeks during growing season and monthly during winter.
Stay vigilant for insects or signs of disease and treat or remove infected plants immediately. Pests and pestilence spread quickly in closed interior environments. Give plants the right-sized pots. Pots that are too small dry out quickly and soil in pots that are too large stays wet too long. Pick the largest, healthiest plants you can afford and insist on a replacement warranty, particularly if you're buying a large number of or very expensive plants.