Information on Indoor Plants

Overview

Growing plants indoors is a way both to decorate and create a healthy environment. Blooming plants like orchids are easy to care for (in fact, most people water orchids too much) and green plants add color and life to rooms. For plants to flower indoors, you will need enough light and regular fertilizer. Many houseplants actually thrive on neglect and will still reward you with greenery (ficus benjamina).

Benefits for Air Quality

Some houseplants are known for their ability to improve indoor air quality as well as provide an attractive addition to a room. Our homes and offices are filled with pollutants produced by carpets, cooking, forced-air heating and air-conditioning. Plants improve humidity through transpiration and absorb toxins such as carbon dioxide that accumulate inside buildings. One example of a pollutant-absorbing plant is snake plant or "mother-in-law's tongue" (Sansevieria laurentil). It is a succulent plant that grows in low light areas and absorbs toxins from the air.

Benefits for Stress Reduction

Placing plants inside buildings is beneficial to all who pass by. Viewing living plants connects people to nature and provides immediate stress relief. Hospitals include indoor garden areas for patients and staff to enjoy; sometimes this is in an indoor patio area with benches or paths. In office buildings, green plants give working people a chance to "step outside" while remaining indoors.

Light and Temperature

Placing plants indoors in the right location is critical to their health. Plants will let you know if you make a mistake. Leaves will turn yellow when there is insufficient light and burn when there is too much. A south-facing window that gets full sun will often be too warm for an indoor plant without cooling breezes. Heat and air conditioner vents blowing directly on a plant can cause problems. For success, pay attention to your plant's health and try different locations if it is not thriving. Follow the guidance that comes with the plant, too, of course.

Care and Feeding

Indoor plants need fertilizer every 3 months and repotting once a year to thrive. They will survive with less. Use plant food purchased from a nursery or garden store (like MiracleGro) and fresh potting soil that is blended for indoor plants (the label will clearly describe the use for potting soil). You can get fertilizer that's effective for specific plants.

Indoor Gardens

If you can group plants indoors, you'll create an environment where the plants benefit each other. Select plants that need the same light. Mix flowering and green plants. You can also place several plants of the same species (African violets, for example) together to enjoy a variety of flower colors.

Keywords: indoor plants, house plants, benefits of house plants

About this Author

Kathleen Sonntag lives in Carmel, California, where she is a writer, teacher and editor. She is a Master Gardener and writes articles for gardening publications. Sonntag has written and edited reading test passages and has edited children's books, cookbooks and memoirs. Her articles appear on GardenGuides.com. Sonntag holds a Bachelor of Arts from University of California, Berkeley.