Accessories for Growing Houseplants

Choosing accessories for growing houseplants depends on the needs of the flora and their intended uses. For example, plants that strictly serve as decorative complements to a room offer different display options than those that serve for medicinal or food uses. The amount of attention you can give to the plants also determines the extravagance of the accessories you may use.

Terrarium Plants

As opposed to water-filled aquariums, terrariums are enclosed glass or plastic containers with the secondary purpose of growing display plants. Terrariums are primarily used as habitats for land-dwelling animals, such as reptiles or insects. But the protective atmosphere makes a terrarium an excellent choice for growing exotics that would not normally do well in the overall atmosphere of a household because they have narrowly defined humidity or temperature requirements that only the sealed environment can replicate. Accessories include the clear glass or plastic terrarium itself, pebbles for drainage, a growing medium composed of a peat-lite mix or potting soil and the plants that go into the container. Chopsticks make it possible to move decorative items around in the finished terrarium, while a kitchen spoon replaces the outdoor shovel for digging a hole sufficiently deep to receive a plant's root ball. A turkey baster allows for the direct application of water to desired areas of the terrarium without splashing; a spray bottle provides the misting tool for the leaves.

Dish Gardens

Cacti and succulents, herbs--as well as African violets and other houseplants--do very well in dish gardens. An open, shallow terrarium or even a decorative bowl fulfills the needs of most plants. Invest in a good quality potting soil--formulated for the plants the dish garden will hold--that spreads over previously added drainage pebbles. A spoon allows for the creation of appropriate spaced holes and also for tamping down the soil after planting. Visually appealing but optional accessories include aquarium gravel to cover the soil after planting, natural materials that complement the appearance of the plants and ceramics that mimic the appearance of animals or whimsical figures. Because of the limited space of a dish garden, it is best to keep discretionary accessories to a minimum. If using materials found outdoors, a proper cleaning is a must to avoid the introduction of parasites, nematodes or animals into the plants' habitat.

Container Gardening

Even though the term "container gardening" usually conjures up visions of vegetables growing on a patio or balcony, keeping houseplants in flower pots also fits adequately into the definition of a container garden. In fact, residents living in plant hardiness zones 5 and 6 overwinter their garden annuals by turning them into houseplants. Accessories vary, depending on the needs of the species. Common needs are flower pots or planters with drainage holes, saucers to capture water runoff, potting soil and artificial lighting to make up for the waning sunlight of the winter. Adapt the level of care to the plants' form of overwintering; for example, calla lilies and dahlias go dormant and do well if you leave them alone in a cool area. Geraniums and impatiens, even though they are annuals, continue their growth season if they receive proper indoor care.

Keywords: terrariums, potting soil, dish gardens, natural materials, container garden, houseplant accessories

About this Author

Based in the Los Angeles area, Sylvia Cochran is a seasoned freelance writer focusing on home and garden, travel and parenting articles. Her work has appeared in "Families Online Magazine" and assorted print and Internet publications.