If indoor gardening were simple, we could all run botanical gardens; in reality, there are no "house" plants. Keeping plants inside requires a complete set of accommodations to meet each plant's natural requirements.
Low-light foliage plants require bright interior light. Supply supplemental artificial light for others with a mix of fluorescent and incandescent lamps a few feet above plants for 4 to 16 hours a day. Flowers and vegetables need 4 or more hours of sunlight each day.
Keep most houseplant soil moist to offset dehydration caused by central heating and air conditioning. Use unsoftened tap water to avoid salt deposits. Before using city water, vent chlorine by letting it sit overnight.
Light potting mixes allows better drainage. Bake homemade potting soil or use sterile "soil-less" mixtures. Fertilize with half-strength liquid.
Containers should be large enough for root systems, drain well and be composed of materials that will not rot or leech chemicals into the soil.
Grow plants with similar cultural requirements together on a tray; they will establish their own "microclimate." Temperatures of 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 10 degrees cooler at night suit most plants.
Whiteflies, mealy bugs and thrips are some of the pests that can enter the indoor garden on plants or in new potting soil. Quarantine new materials and use insecticidal soaps for control.
- Universty of Georgia Cooperative Extension: Growing Plants Indoors
- Gardening Under Lights
- University of Illinois Urban Extension: Growing Plants Indoors
- University of Arizona Extension: Container Vegetable Gardening
indoor garden, keeping gardens, houseplants
About this Author
Chicago native Laura Reynolds has been writing for 40 years. She attended American University (D.C.), Northern Illinois University and University of Illinois Chicago and has a B.S. in communications (theater). Originally a secondary school communications and history teacher, she's written one book and edited several others. She has 30 years of experience as a local official, including service as a municipal judge.