Indoor gardening has countless benefits. Growing plants indoors is a great way to bring a bit of nature into your home. Plants clean the air and calm the senses. Plants are also functional in other ways. Growing herbs in your kitchen window, for example, makes it very easy to add fresh taste to your recipe without having to step foot outside. While each plant has different growing requirements, a few growing tips apply for any indoor plant.
Light It Up
While there are a few plants that can grow in low-light conditions, such as philodendrons, almost all plants grow best when exposed to a lot of natural light. The best light is indirect light, as filtered through a curtain or in a south-facing window. Hot, direct afternoon sun scorches the leaves of many plants, so a location that has morning sun, such as an east-facing window, followed by filtered afternoon sun or shade, is also a good idea. Finally, place your indoor plants outside for a little taste of direct sunlight and fresh air during the summer.
Container plants need more watering than their in-ground counterparts. The soil in containers dries out rapidly, especially in the dry air of most homes. On the other hand, plants that sit in very soggy water will quickly develop root rot. If your indoor plant has a water catch tray, empty it as soon as the water is finished draining so the base of the pot does not sit in standing water. In addition, make sure the container has drainage holes so that the water can go through the soil. While different plants have different watering needs, most plants need watering when the soil's top layer gets dry down to an inch or so.
Water tropical plants with warm or lukewarm, never cold, water. If your tap water has added minerals or chemicals such as fluoride or chlorine, it may be a good idea to let it sit for a couple of days to let them evaporate before watering the plant. Water in the air is also important. Humidifiers and spray bottles can get the foliage too wet. Instead, place your plant on a tray filled with pebbles and water. Rest the pot on the pebbles so that it does not touch the water. As the water evaporates, it will provide humidity for your plant.
To keep your indoor plant growing happily, keep the temperatures moderate. Daytime temperatures in the low 70s F are ideal for the majority of plants. A drop of around 10 degrees F or so at night is beneficial to most plants. Plants that go into a dormant period over the winter will need even cooler temperatures (and less light), so move these plants to a dark, cool location during the winter months, and also stop watering them. Finally, keep your indoor plants away from anything that will blow a cold or hot draft on the plant, such as a heating or air-conditioning vent.
As is the case with water, potted plants will also quickly lose nutrients faster than their in-ground counterparts. Fertilize your plant with a balanced (10-10-10), water-soluble fertilizer once a month during the growing season (cease fertilizing during the dormant season).
Monitor For Pests
Indoor plants can suffer from insect pests and fungal diseases just like outdoor plants. Watch for spots to appear on the leaves, which is often a sign of a fungal disease. Never wet the foliage when watering your plant so as to avoid the development of fungi growth. Look for tiny insects on the undersides of leaves, or see if they swarm around your plant when you touch it. A general insecticide application applied once every other week or so should get rid of the tiny insect pests. Fungal diseases cannot be cured once they take hold of your plant, but they can be prevented by keeping the leaves as dry as possible and by applying a preventative fungicide in the spring. Luckily, fungal diseases are rare on indoor plants, and they usually don't kill the plant.