The ideal way to understand your plant's needs is to do a bit of research on where the plant originates from and the conditions it will need to thrive. A lot of the favourite plants at the moment come from tropical areas of high rainfall, e.g. Monstera, Philodendron, Peperomia, Spathiphyllum and Devil's Ivy to name a few.
Most plants are incredibly tolerant and forgiving of our inept treatment of them. Find out what the plant needs and it's easy after that.
Obviously we can't create glasshouse/rainforest conditions in our apartments and houses, but we can try to provide the closest thing.
LIGHT: A high proportion of the plants grown inside are understory plants. This means that the light that reaches them is filtered through the canopy of taller plants so they receive a gentle dappled light. This is why the varieties mentioned above and many others are so suitable for using inside. The light provided is similar to what they would have in their own environment. Generally speaking most indoor plants prefer bright but not direct sun. Bright light means the plant has a view of the sky but doesn't receive direct sun.
Some general rules for plants and windows, East is great, North excellent as long as care is taken in summer that the heat is not too much, West is best kept for more heat tolerant plants like Draceana spp, succulents and cacti. Use the rule if it's too hot for your skin to be pushed up against a window on a 40 degree day then it's way too hot for your plant. Same goes for cold window surfaces. If it's too cold for your hand to be comfortably left against the glass on a freezing winter day/night, then it's way too cold for that delicate maidenhair fern to tolerate. Keep plant material off glass window panes.
WATERING INDOORS: Smaller plants can be carried to the kitchen, laundry, bathroom for a thorough watering, left to drain and returned to their spot. Larger plants pose a more difficult problem in how to water thoroughly (so the water comes through the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot) without flooding the polished floor or carpet. Plants need to have water reach the bottom of the pot which is where the bulk of the roots are but they then can't sit in a saucer full of water without it adversely affecting their overall health. I have a really tall Rhaphis palm in my house and the way I manage the watering is to use an oversized saucer with the pot elevated on pot feet. When I water I watch the bottom of the pot for the water coming out and stop at that point. You can use largish stones in the saucer and this also helps to create a humid environment which they will love. A care-sheet on how to correctly water pot plants can be found here
PLANT HEALTH: Plants grown indoors will always grow best when potted in a premium quality potting mix. If there is one area not to scrimp it is on potting media. Indoor plants generally rely on a well draining media to avoid long periods of being too wet. This is especially important in Winter. Many growers are now using a peat based medium to grow in and unfortunately this makes it very difficult to ensure your plants are able to dry enough between waterings. Ideally repot plants in this medium into a premium potting mix in Spring or Summer. Fertilising your indoor plants will have many benefits. Indoor plants don't have access to the same vectors that supply garden plants with fertilising such as rain, worms and animals. Fertilising will ensure your plants have the energy required to grow big strong leaves with thick cellular walls. It will also greatly improve your chances of flowering plants such as Spathiphyllum and Anthuriums. Healthy plants are more resistant to attacks by pests.
As there are no natural predators of common plant pests indoors it is easy for insect populations to build up quickly. Learning to identify these pests and treat them quickly is detrimental to plant health. Common pests and treatments can be found on our care sheet here
TEMPERATURE: Plants we use indoors all have differing tolerances for temperature. Some are highly tropical while others come from temperate climes. Some plants have high tolerances for heat such as Dracaenas (including what was previously Sansevieria) while others will tolerate a cool room with ease such as a Kentia palms. These plants won't tolerate the opposite extreme as well however so it is an important consideration when choosing plants for a room as to what its tolerances of extremes are.
Below is a list of some of our recommnedations for indoors based on their tolerances for temperature, Most of these plants can be found in store:
Howea forsteriana (Kentia Palm), Chamaedorea varieties (Parlour Palm, Bamboo Palm), Ficus elastica (Rubber Tree), Monstera deliciosa (Swiss Cheese Plant/Fruit Salad Plant), Aechmea fasciata, Aspidistra (Cast Iron Plant), Pilea peperomioides, Maidenhair and Nephrolepis varieties of ferns, Schefflera amate (Umbrella Tree), Hoya carnosa, Devil's Ivy, Rhipsalis, Ceropegia varieties, Cymbidium orchids, many Cacti and succulents (e.g. Gasteria and Haworthia).
Medium warmth preferred
Dracaena/Sansevieria, Oncidium orchids, Phalaenopsis orchids, Ficus lyrata, Calatheas, Alocasia, Zamioculcas (Zanzibar Gem), Dieffenbachia varieties, Aglaonema varieties, Peperomia varieties, Fittonia varieties, Begonias, Philodendrons, and many Hoya species.
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