Common Mistakes Killing Your Indoor Plants
Indoor plants are one of the easiest and most effective ways to add colour and life to any room. As we’ve mentioned before (How To Add Colour To Your Home Without Picking Up A Paintbrush), they also filter the air around them, decrease stress levels, stimulate healing, and have the potential to make us better people, firmly cementing themselves as a staple for beautiful, happy homes.
Unfortunately, if your thumb’s more brown than green, keeping your plants healthy (or even alive) can be quite a challenge. They’re not privy to the same natural rhythms as outdoor plants, so rely on you for all their needs. Before you buckle under the pressure of keeping your little green friends alive and well, have a read through these common mistakes. Once you know what they are, they’re easily fixed, leaving you free to enjoy all the benefits of plants in the home.
Choosing the wrong species
A healthy bunch of indoor plants starts with good choices at the nursery. The conditions in your home are quite different to those in your garden, so if you don’t pick plants accordingly, you’ll be setting yourself up for failure from the get-go. Some of the best species for indoors are money plants, fiddle leaf figs, aloe vera, philodendrons, and peace lilies. They’re easy to care for and will thrive in most conditions, including humid bathrooms and sunny windowsills. If you have a bit of a green thumb, orchids and African violets are also great choices.
Too much water
We all know plants need water, but giving your potted friend too much H20 is just as damaging as letting them go thirsty. Because indoor plants are sheltered from the elements (and the most popular varieties are hardy succulents), you only need to water them every one to two weeks, and maybe even less in winter. As a general rule, the soil in the pot should be dry to touch before watering. It’s also helpful to remember that established plants don’t need as much liquid as their young or newly potted counterparts, and watering in the morning is better than watering at night, as it gives your plants the chance to absorb moisture during the heat of the day, reducing the risk of root rot and fungus.
Water’s only part of the care equation when it comes to keeping your plants healthy: you need to feed them too! Because indoor plants aren’t privy to the same natural fertilizers as those in your garden, make sure you sprinkle some store-bought plant food over the soil at least once a year. Look for mixes that contain nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium; the three key elements required for healthy growth.
The wrong rays
Some plants love direct sunlight and others hate it. To work out if your plant’s getting the right amount, take a look at its leaves. If they’re dry and brown, move the plant to a shadier spot; if they’re small and pale or are starting to reach towards the nearest light source, shimmy your plant into more direct sunlight. Be mindful of the way the light in your house changes with the seasons too. A sunny-all-day summer windowsill may become quite shaded in winter, so don’t be afraid to move things around accordingly.
If any of your plants are positioned directly under an air vent or too close to a heater, chances are they’re not looking all that healthy. Greenery thrives best at room temperature, so anything too extreme will bring about an untimely end. Similarly, studies have shown that keeping plants next to your router is also a bad idea, although whether this is due to the heat or the WiFi signal is still up for debate.
This is a big problem for indoor plants, thanks to the fact we usually put them directly into pretty ceramic pots that trap water inside, rotting the plants’ roots at the first sign of over-watering. Instead, keep plants inside the plastic tub they come in and place this into the decorative pot, leaving space between the two vessels for things to dry out. If you still prefer to transfer your plants directly into your pretty planters, place pebbles or rocks at the bottom so excess liquid can drain away.
Creepy crawlies can wreak havoc on indoor plants too, so keep an eye out for tell-tale signs, like little black dots (which are usually grub waste) or nibble marks. If you do have bugs, use a natural remedy - such as garlic spray - to eliminate them without damaging your plant or introducing toxins into your home.
Letting dust gather
Have you ever noticed your houseplants get dusty? It’s important to wipe them down with a damp cloth every couple of months to keep the leaves clean and absorbing sunlight efficiently. A thick layer of dust will inhibit your plant’s ability to photosynthesise, leaving it without the energy it needs to live a healthy life. While you’re dusting, take the time to pick off old blooms or lifeless limbs to encourage healthy new growth.
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