About Indoor Plants


Indoor plants have been part of home decor for many years. Tropical plants that do not withstand outdoor winter temperatures become house plants. They have lush foliage and many even produce fragrant flowers. Less traditional plants are also grown indoors. With the right conditions, you can grow coffee plants, gardenias and even citrus. A popular practice is forcing bulbs to flower indoors for the holiday season. Some favorites are amaryllis, narcissus and freesia. House plants are easy to find in stores or by mail order. Once obtained, they are very easy to propagate.

Plants as Therapy

It is well known that plants have a calming effect on humans beings. Green is a cool color that creates a feeling of peacefulness. House plants are therapeutic to those who love the outdoors but are forced inside during winter. Hospitals have shown that patients recover quicker when they have live plants in their rooms. Horticultural therapies have even been developed to help patients through long recovery periods. Emotional well being has a direct affect on the immune system.

Light Requirements

Consider light conditions when choosing indoor plants. Most house plants require sunlight to thrive. The best choices for low-light rooms are snake plant, philodendron and Chinese evergreen. Try several locations until the plant seems happy. Once a plant is settled, try to leave it alone. Sunlight is crucial for fruiting plants like orange and lemon. Place them close to a sunny window but not so close that they receive a draft. Homes with constant heat fluctuations may not be suited for citrus trees or orchids.

Indoor Plant History

Man has always been enamored by plants. The quest to discover and own new species dates back to medieval times. Kings would send explorers to faraway places to seek new plant specimens. These exotic plants had to be kept indoors so they would not freeze in the colder European climate. Later on, wealthy Victorians carried out the same desire to possess the exotic. Coupled with their love for nature they created little miniature glass environments for delicate flowers like orchids. They loved foliage and surrounded themselves with indoor greenery. Their successes and failures are largely what has determined which plants are suited for indoor conditions.

Growing Tips

Growing indoor plants can be challenging in winter. Forced-air heat can quickly dry out plant foliage. House plants should be placed away from direct heat sources. It will help to mist foliage with a spray bottle. Because container plants have a limited soil environment, they need to be fed. An all-purpose liquid fertilizer made for indoor plants is usually sufficient. There are also fertilizers for plants needing specific nutrients like orchids. Fertilizer salts will build up over time and can be harmful to indoor plants. When this happens you will see a white layer on top of the soil. Take your plants to the sink and water them repeatedly so the salts will drain away. Do this every few months.

Improved Air Quality

It has been scientifically proven that plants can clean the air we breathe. They filter toxins such as formaldehyde, toluene and trichloroethylene from our homes. Construction adhesives are largely responsible for these pollutants. Plants known to work are snake plant, spider plant, peace lily, ivy, philodendron, palm, Chinese evergreen and dracaena.

Poisonous Plants

Few house plants are deadly but most have poisonous tendencies. It is always better to treat all indoor plants as if they are unsafe for consumption. When small children are present, keep plants up high. If you suspect a child has eaten any part of a plant, call poison control. Some cats like to gnaw on plant foliage. Cats can climb, so it is difficult to keep plants out of their reach. Products such as green apple spray can be found at pet stores. This gives house plants a bitter taste that cats dislike. Planting wheat grass for cats to nibble on is another solution. The seed will need to be replanted often since it has a short life cycle.

Keywords: air, toxin, Victorian, king, orange

About this Author

Marci Degman has been a landscape designer and horticulture writer since 1997. She has an Associate of Applied Science in landscape technology and landscape design from Portland Community College. Degman writes a newspaper column for the "Hillsboro Argus" and radio tips for KUIK. Her teaching experience for Portland Community College has set the pace for her to write online instructional articles.