Houseplants are not just pretty centerpieces that adorn your house. They make your living spaces more beautiful and instill life in your homes. Living amidst plants brings you closer to Nature and once you fall in love with them, you begin to take care of them like your children. Though they are mainly kept for decorative purposes, studies show that they have positive psychological effects and many indoor plants also help in purifying the air.
But, there are some things that you must know about the kind of plants you can keep and the equipment needed to maintain them.
The Ideal Potting Mix
Potting mix, or potting compost, is a medium in which to grow plants, herbs, and vegetables in a pot or any other durable container. Cocopeat, composted bark, sand, and perlite are some of the common ingredients used in potting soil. The commercially available potting soil is sterilized, which helps in avoiding the spread of weeds and plant-borne diseases.
If you buy your plants that are already in pots, you will still require potting mix when you have to change the soil and re-pot the plant. You must also keep in mind that the same potting mix will not work for all the plants.
Different plants require different soil conditions and the ideal potting mix is dependent on the type of plant. For instance, certain flowering plants like the African violet grows better in potting soil that has more peat moss, whereas plants such as cactus require adequate water drainage and will need perlite or sand.
The four major components of soil are air, water, mineral matter, and organic matter. It’s important to ensure adequate aeration and excellent drainage, which is crucial for the plant roots. This helps in preventing waterlogging, which may cause the roots to rot. So, the ideal soil mix must be at least slightly porous and must be able to retain nutrients and water for the plants to absorb them through their roots.
All-Purpose Potting Mix
An organic-based all-purpose potting mix is suitable for a wide variety of indoor and outdoor plants and shrubs, including ornamentals, fruit trees, veggies, and herbs. The ideal all-purpose potting soil generally contains two parts soil, one part compost and one part perlite, sand or vermiculite.
By adding compost to the soil, you can improve its water retention capability, ensure ample aeration, and help control the soil temperature. Moreover, the type of organic waste you use in your compost also provides nutrients to improve the plant health.
But certain plants, such as ferns, hyacinths, and tulips, may require a more acidic potting mix to thrive. When buying an all-purpose potting mix, check the ingredients mentioned on the label and find out if it will suit the kind of plants you plan to keep.
Cactuses And Succulent Mix
If you plan to keep cactuses and succulent plants, it is extremely important to use potting soil that permits excellent drainage of excess water. Ensure that you only use types of soil that are porous, so that water is absorbed by the soil easily and drains away quickly.
At the roots of succulent plants, a rapid exchange between water and air is essential, but it may not happen when water is present in excessive quantities. Soil that remains wet for extended duration can quickly kill most succulent plants.
So, popular houseplants such as succulents and cactuses require a specific potting mix that contains more sand and stones. Although this kind of soil is easily available, you can also mix it on your own.
Choosing The Right Container
The purpose of a container is to hold the right quantity of growing medium for the plant. The container you select must match the size of your plant. The container must have holes at the bottom for excess water to drain out, which prevents the roots of the plants from rotting.
Since excess water flows out of these holes, you must place a plastic or clay saucer below it to prevent excess water from spilling onto your carpet or flooring. Some people may prefer decorative pots that have no drainage holes. In such cases, you must know how much to water the plants.
The most common containers for plants are made of plastic, clay, or porcelain. Many plants quickly outgrow their containers and require re-potting. Plastic and ceramic pots retain the soil moist for longer, but succulents and cactuses thrive better in clay pots, which dry the soil faster.
Selecting The Right Plants
1. Hanging Plants
Petunias, impatiens, lobelia, fuchsia, begonias, million bells, and geraniums make for excellent hanging plants. You can use your creativity and place a variety of containers to hang up plants. You can create a virtually no-care container with succulents. You can hang them up in beautiful baskets, glass containers, creatively painted holders, or even in a coconut shell. You can even grow trailing plants that seem to overflow from its containers.
2. Long, Trailing Plants
Many plants sport a lush growth and may spill over the edge of the container, often concealing the container itself. Use high-level shelves and hanging baskets for trailing plants where you want. Bushy trailing plants like sword fern, spider plant or piggyback plant make your living spaces look good. Some good examples of trailing plants are asparagus fern, wandering Jew, sweetheart plant, strawberry geranium and creeping fig. Many trailing flowering plants also add a dash of color to your living space.
3. Large, Architectural Plants
Large plants can literally transform your home into an indoor garden and beautify the area with its greenery. They stand out against contrasting wall colors such as white, beige, or cream. Some common examples of large, architectural plants include ficus, bamboo, yucca, and palms. You can place them in large regular pots or even in wicker baskets or wooden containers, which conceal the pot and give it a rustic effect.
Common Tools Required
Although indoor plants require less maintenance than a garden, you will still need some basic tools mentioned here to prune and maintain indoor plants.
- Spray bottle
- Gardening gloves
- Scissors or shears
- Watering can
- A spoon or a small spade
- Hand Trowel
- Pots and containers