Home and Garden Tips: How to Choose and Care for Indoor Plants
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Published by TOP4 Team
When you think about decorating a home's interior, images of flowing drapes, quirky art pieces, statement chairs, hand-woven rugs or a fresh coat of paint immediately come to mind. But while all of these can certainly freshen up a room, there's no doubt that there's another element that can literally bring life into your space: an indoor plant (or a whole bunch of them).
And it's not just about setting a tiny pot of herbs on your kitchen windowsill or a single African violet on a coffee table in the living room. Most people fail to realise that they can create a garden of sorts inside their homes — you can place a giant pot with a towering palm in a sunny corner, or have wicker baskets with flowers hanging from the walls, or even place crawling plants on tables so they spill over one side. Lush greenery can certainly add a pop of colour and a natural vibe to the place, and there's no doubt that the indoor air quality will also improve.
So what kinds of plants can thrive well inside a house, and how do you take care of them? Here are some helpful tips you can try.
Understand how plants would live indoors. Generally, there is no such thing as in indoor plant — just plants that can successfully handle the additional stress that comes with being placed indoors. Doing this will take the plant away from open exposure to the most important elements to them (sunshine, rain, and fresh air), but that doesn't mean that they will struggle in indoor conditions if you properly care for them.
Your best options would be plants that are used to growing in places with dappled light conditions, and are accustomed to fluctuating temperatures (from day to night, from one season to another, etc.), such as plants from subtropical climates — they would be able to grow just fine under a roof.
Pay attention to light conditions. You need to match the plant to the right lighting conditions in the room where it will be placed. Plants like the kentia palm, Chinese lucky plant, cast iron plant, lady palm, peace lily, happy plant, and Zanzibar gem are examples that are excellent for low-light rooms — they come with large, dark green leaves which facilitate photosynthesis better and can survive with less light.
For rooms where bright light comes in, tropical plants with patterned or coloured leaves would be ideal. You can try prayer plant, zebra plant, dumb cane, and a wide range of colourful bromeliads.
A considerable degree of care should be provided to ensure the continued health of the plants indoors. Watering once or twice a week during summer and spring is sufficient; make sure to use a watering can with a small spout. Reduce watering to once every two or three weeks during autumn and winter. Make use of a controlled-release fertiliser in granule form to provide nutrients. Remove old leaves to enable new ones to grow. Add some seaweed solution to the water every month to help boost their health.
You may notice insects attacking your plants — this typically happens if the plant is stressed (not fed or watered properly). Common pests you might find are mealybugs, scale and sooty mould. Pick off the white, hairy mealybugs or spray larger infestations with Natrasoap. Leaves affected by scale should be sprayed with PestOil. Meanwhile, sooty mould, a kind of black soot that covers leaves or stems, can be controlled with the same treatment as scale.