A container, some gravel and water is all that is needed to grow indoor plants. The soil in houseplants can cause problems. Cats and other pets like to dig in it, and may even use it as an alternative to the litter box. Solve this problem the simple way: grow your indoor plants without the soil. Soilless plants get most of their nutrients from the air and water, rather than potting soil.
Exotic, tropical orchids do not need soil to thrive. They come potted in a special medium of fibrous roots or pine bark mixed with vermiculite and gravel. The medium supports the plant while allowing air to circulate around the roots so they don't become too wet and rot. Orchids pull most of their nutrients from the air, so good air circulation away from cold or hot drafts is important. Water is also important, but avoid over watering. Place the pot on top of a bed of pebbles in a tray and fill the tray with water. Orchids love humidity.
Paperwhites are often called lilies, but they are in fact a member of the narcissus family, like daffodils. Their large, white trumpet-like flowers bloom only every three years, but the foliage remains green and attractive. Fill a shallow bowl with pebbles and nestle the paperwhite bulb on top, with the top third above the pebbles. Fill with water until it just touches the bottom of the bulb. Maintain the water level at all times, even after the blooms have faded. Paperwhites prefer a lot of sunlight, and can be transplanted in soil outside.
Aloe is not just any indoor plant, it also has medicinal properties. Often grown in the kitchen window, aloe produces a gel that soothes burns. Snapping off the tip of a leaf gives access to the gel. Aloe often comes potted in cacti potting mix which is a combination of sand, gravel and perlite or vermiculite. Propagated from cuttings, aloe grows very slowly but is also very hardy. Water aloe when the soil begins to dry out, as it requires very little moisture--and in the winter months, nearly none.
Not really bamboo at all, lucky bamboo is the name given to a bamboo-like species of dracaena. Available at garden centers, florists and home stores, it is often given as a gift, and is said to bring good luck. Lucky bamboo comes in containers filled with pebbles and approximately 1 inch of water. There are usually three plants to a container that are woven into braids and other designs. Some bamboo comes in soil mixes, so look for a gravel mix when purchasing.
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