Indoor Gardening

Indoor Gardening can be as simple as a couple of plants on the window sill or range to a solarium filled with many types of plants. Offices can be made a little less dreary by incorporating plants that adapt well to the low light conditions of today’s business world. Some people like to create their own indoor growing systems and experiment with hydroponics.

Indoor gardening, just like outdoor gardening has its own set of problems that must be dealt with. Some are of these issues are easier to maintain than others. Caring for your prized houseplants is different in the winter also.

There are many varieties of houseplants available for your gardening pleasure. Some are mainly indoor plants in some climates, others can be grown inside or out. The following guidelines will work for most houseplants, but be sure to check each plant for it's specific needs.

Soil-

Soils for indoor gardening can be easily matched to the plants that are being grown in them. It is easier, however for things like soil pH to get out of balance because they don’t have many of the natural buffers that garden soils in the open have available to them. Minerals present in tap water can build up in the soils to the determent of the plants. It’s for this reason that indoor plants should be re-potted periodically. There is no single best soil for potting your plants. Just as in nature, different plants prefer different soil conditions we should strive to duplicate the plants natural growing conditions. The amounts of organic material, soil texture, pH, and soil structure are all things to consider. Once you have arrived at a suitable soil mixture, it would be a good idea to sterilize it, especially if you have incorporated soil from your garden or compost. Commercially prepared potting mixes should be used carefully as well. Many of these mixes contain fertilizer as well. If you take this fertilizer and combine it with your well intentioned adding of fertilizer when you are starting the plant off, the combined over fertilization can be fatal to the plant.

Water- Water balance can also be difficult to maintain. Different plants have different water needs. Some people just can’t resist watering plants whether they need it or not. The hardest thing to duplicate is humidity. Humans and the interiors of their homes simply cannot tolerate the high humidity conditions that exist in the rain forest, so it doesn’t pay to bring a plant that needs high humidity inside and expect that it will thrive under the dry winter conditions that exist in our homes. A daily light misting can help as well as placing the pot on a pan filled with water and pebbles. The pebbles will increase the humidity by wicking the moisture and providing a larger surface area for water evaporation. Using tap water can lead to mineral build up in the potting soil. Even if you use a water softener, the increased sodium levels in some softened water can be harmful to your plants. If you use plain city tap water, let it stand at least overnight to allow it to come to room temperature and to allow most of the chlorine to escape.

Light- The needs of the plant for light must also be taken into consideration when choosing plants for your indoor gardening landscape. This is an area, however, where the varying light needs of plants can be made to work for you. Putting plants with a high need for light into a low light area can cause them to become leggy and spindly as they search for light; but a plant that has a low need for light will do just fine. As plants tend to grow towards the light sources available, it’s a good idea to give your plants a quarter turn each day to counteract this tendency. There are a number of indoor grow light sources available to help replace the natural light that plants need.

Fertilizer- This is an area where a lot of people get into trouble with their indoor gardening methods. Too much fertilizer in your indoor gardening plants can cause a build up of mineral salts in the soil, compounding the effects of over watering.

When choosing plants for you indoor gardening efforts, it’s more important than ever to pay attention to the information labels that come with the plant. A little homework before you run off to the garden center doesn’t hurt, either. When you bring a plant into your home or office, you are taking on the responsibility to recreate its natural habitat as closely as possible.

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