Indoor Plant Care – Get A Green Thumb


kitchen with large garden areaWe have lived in one of those adobe style homes for over ten years now and have finally added a garden window to our breakfast room. The window fills the entire wall and I can’t wait to bring the outdoors in and fill it with all types of potted houseplants and blooming flowers.

I have been planning this for years and have read that studies have shown that green plants remove pollutants in the air surrounding them. This leaves us more satisfied with our lives, calmer, more efficient and full of freshness and vitality. Taking care of plants is very therapeutic and also has a positive effect on our physical and mental health. So now you know why when you walk into a botanical garden or simply a beautiful backyard garden you experience a sense of peace and tranquility.

In the basement I have soil, watering cans, fertilizer and an assortment of colorful planters just waiting to be used. The only thing I am worried about is actually keeping the plants alive and turning my black thumb into a green one.

kitchen with large garden window

I have read that the number one way to kill a plant is to overwater it. The soil should be moist but not damp. The roots will rot and begin to stink and the leaves will wilt if they have too much water. Plants need to dry out between waterings so that oxygen can get into the soil and roots. A simple rule of green thumb – When in doubt: Soil + dry = water. Soil + wet = don’t water.

Soil and fertilizing the soil is a must if you want your indoor plants are to thrive. They need nourishment such as nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Some potting mixes include all these nutrients but over the years they break down, settle around the roots and starve the plant of oxygen. Ways to improve this is to repot every year, add perlite to the soil, flush the soil by taking it outside and washing out salts and other deposits. Once a month fertilizer should be added and worked into the soil for better circulation of oxygen to the roots.

Air movement in the pots as well as the air surrounding the leaves is important. If you live in a colder climate and cannot open up the windows for a fresh breeze it is important to circulate air at least with a ceiling fan or small fan. Since I plan to put a lot of plants in our new garden window I will definitely have to leave the ceiling fan more often to the move air around. This air movement keeps stale indoor air and gasses from settling around the plant and it also helps plant stems to be sturdy, not spindly.

Plants need moisture from watering but also moisture in the air – humidity. If you want your plants to not only grow, but thrive, the humidity level in your home needs to be around 40%. Other ways to create moisture is to mist them with a spray bottle, place the pot or planter in a tray filled with small rocks and water so the plant can get moisture when it needs it or to place containers filled with water around the room so plants can soak up the humid air as the water evaporates.

Last, but definitely not least, is light. As far as plant health goes this ranks right up there with the right amount of water. It is amazing to see how plants reach for the sun. If your plant does this it means they are begging for light. In colder climates winter is hard on plants so the use of fluorescent lights may be necessary if you notice paleness, smaller leaves than usual and them reaching for sun. Normally a good rule of green thumb is if there is enough light in a room to read your plants should be fine.

There are so many varieties of plants and before I purchase anything I plan to research what type of environment they need in order to grow. I can’t wait to fill my pots with soil and bring home my first tray of plants. Many of my friends know I have been waiting for a long time to get this new window and have started cuttings off of their healthy plants that are easy to grow. I figure with a clone of a healthy plant I really should be able to test my green thumb. I can’t wait to get started on my collection of indoor plants!

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