Over the course of human history, we’ve slowly but surely insulated ourselves from the outside world – removing ourselves from the food chain in the process. This phenomenon developed via the first stationary homes, communities and civilizations we established as we migrated away from our hunter/gatherer origins. As a result, our lives slowly became sterilized by electricity, enclosed domiciles to dwell within, and motorized vehicles to take our focus off our surroundings and straight ahead to what’s next. And while some would categorize this as progress, others would easily claim this developed disconnection with our environment is one of the very reasons we’re witnessing such aggressive climate change today.
Politics aside, it’s worth noting one small way to help reestablish a connection with the natural world is our domestication of various flora and fauna in and around our homes. From gardens to relocating into the wilderness to simply owning indoor plants, its these small steps in which we reintroduce the natural world into our artificial manipulation thereof that could very well be the foundation onto which environmental awareness is raised. That, at least, is why we’re interested in the topic. Specifically, how to care for these indoor plants. Because, aside from tasteful art and furniture, we’ve found that indoor plant life not only spruces up the home vibe but works to keep the air clean and your space lively.
Indoor Plant Care
Natural and Straightforward
For starters, what we’ve noticed throughout our own experience and research is, ironically enough, over-caring for these plants based on the false assumption that “indoor” equates to “fragile.” On the contrary, the majority of the indoor plants you’ll discover – from cacti to succulents to palms and more – actually only require moderate amounts of water, sunlight, and attention in order to thrive. Sound confusing? Not to worry. We’ve gone ahead and broken down key caring points and pointers to help ensure that as a potential plant parent, you’re creating an environment that will facilitate growth, not death.
But first, before getting started, you must consider what type of plant is best. Meaning, before even making a purchase, a spot in the home must first be determined. From here, you can then match that particular spot’s lighting and space to a particular plant’s requirements. For instance, does this specific spot enjoy ample sunlight or only moderate to low light during the day? Next is the maintenance to consider. Flowering plants, such as orchids for example, are going to require much more attention than say a leafy green indoor plant. Knowing both your capabilities as a plant parent and the aesthetic you’re after will help to ensure a match is well met.
Now, onto the most basic necessity of any life on earth: water. As mentioned above, one common problem indoor plants face from owners is the assumption that they need healthy doses of water on a daily basis. This, however, is not true. Rather, it’s best to judge the need for water based on the soil consistency. What does this mean? Well, for the most part, potting soil needs to be kept moist but not wet. The one exception, of course, comes with succulents and cacti that perform best when the soil actually dries out between watering.
So, how do you know when to water? Well, we’ve found that if the potting soil becomes lighter in color or cracked, it’s time to water. Also, watering needs can be determined by weight – after time that is – or you can invest in a moisture meter to measure how much water is present around the root mass. All this, naturally, is purposed to prevent dehydration.
Speaking of which, this is a stage of plant life you do not want to inflict onto your leafy residents. Fortunately, for most of us, it’s relatively easy to tell when this terrible phenomenon is happening – like when the soil is pulling away from the edge of the pot or the leaves are wilting. There are other signs to be aware of as well and we’ve outlined them below for your reference:
Sure Signs of Dehydration
- Slow leave growth.
- Premature dropping of leaves or flowers.
- Translucent leaves.
- Yellow, brown or curling leaf edges.
Basically, just a modicum of daily attention to your plants will prevent any of this from occurring. Think of it as raising an independent teenager: just the basics. Don’t be overbearing and let them grow and develop into their own unique beings.
Which leads us to our next point: overwatering. This is a classic misnomer for plant parents out there who feel that just because they have an indoor plant that somewhat resembles that of tropical fauna that they need to be watered as such. Not so. In fact, too much water can be just as damaging to plants as too little water. Why? Because frequent watering forces air from the soil while enabling root-killing bacteria and fungus to take hold. It’s here, that we found overwatering to be the number one killer of houseplants nationwide. Again, here are some signs your plant is overwatered:
Sure Signs of Overwatering
- Mold or fungus on the soil surface.
- Smelly roots at the bottom of the pot.
- Standing water in the bottom of the pot.
- Leaves with brown/rotten patches.
- Both young and old leaves falling at the same time.
A good rule of thumb? Check your individual plants every 3 to 4 days to determine if they’re in need of some water. If, however, you’re traveling or don’t trust your roommates to care for them, there are always self-watering devices you could use to ensure the plants that require regular watering are moderately fulfilled while you’re away.
How to Water
Need some general advice on how to water your plants? Not a problem at all. You’d be surprised at how many plant owners water their indoor inhabitants incorrectly on a regular basis so we got you covered. In short, there are two viable ways to do this: either from the top or from the bottom. If a top-down method is preferred, then be sure to simply water the soil – not the foliage – and ensure the water is evenly distributed throughout the soil. If, however, you trust the plants to do the work for you, then you can bottom-water your plants by setting the plants in a dish of water to allow the roots to pull up whatever amount of water they need. Just be sure to dump any standing water from the saucer about an hour after watering the plant.
Another necessity for most life on this planet, sunlight is something nearly all indoor plants require in order to thrive. Keep in mind, though, that some require less than others. So it’s important to gain a solid understanding of the amount of sunlight entering the home or apartment before setting off to purchase a houseplant. As a general rule, large leafy plants are best situated near or in front of windows that receive some level of direct sunlight while others (cacti, succulents, snake plants, etc.) can handle more indirect sunlight throughout the home. The point being, all plants require some sunlight. So, it’s best not to outfit the dark basement with a myriad of plants without some sort to grow light or UV supplement.
Fortunately for you, the majority of houseplants out there thrive in temperatures that we humans find most comfortable for our homes. Imagine that, right? Sounds too good to be true we know but trust us on this. The range in question here? 65-75° F during the day and down to 60°F at night. Obviously, the more tropical variants out there might require a bit more warmth so these would be best placed in spots that receive direct sunlight throughout the day to make up for the temperature difference. One thing’s for certain though, try not to let the internal temperature of the home exceed this range since it could spell damage to your prized houseplants. And you wouldn’t want that, would you?
Unless you’re out there looking to fill the home with desert succulents, which honestly isn’t a bad decision for those looking for lower maintenance, humidity is something to consider as well when purchasing indoor plants. For instance, most plants thrive in humidity levels of around 80 percent. Now, obviously, this isn’t a comfortable percentage for the home so there are ways to troubleshoot this issue.
For starters, a humidifier can help create a microclimate around the plants that need it most. However, if purchasing an appliance to facilitate growth isn’t on the docket, then simple additions such as a small tray with pebbles placed near the plant can help boost humidity, as can grouping these plants together. Also, misting the leaves of those that need it most helps as well. Also, strategically placing plants in areas of the home with higher humidity levels such as the kitchen or the bathroom works too.
Food for plants isn’t just limited to water and sunshine. No, these types of living organisms require specified nutrients as well in order to thrive. Our suggestion? Organic fertilizer. That’s because every time a plant is watered nutrients are removed from the soil. This occurs in conjunction with the plants themselves depleting the soil of its natural nutrients since there is no regular source of replenishment as opposed to outside.
So, it’s up to you to replenish these nutrients yourself via fertilizer. A good rule to follow? Fertilize once a month when your flowering plants are doing so and less frequently during the colder dormant months when growth isn’t a huge concern or probability. Also, you might want to step up your fertilizer game if your plants are displaying malnutrition. Signs such as lower leaves dropping, weak growth, and overall yellow-green color (if that’s an abnormal color of course) can be signals your plant/s need a bit more attention.
Unleash Your Plant's Potential
Now, if all the above is completed diligently and thoroughly, your plants will continue to grow, and soon outgrow, their original containers. This is a good thing since it displays your green thumb and caring attitude toward indoor plants. So, with this in mind, you’ll have to 1) repot these plants of yours and 2) pick up some fresh potting soil before doing so. As for a timeline, spring is the best time to take care of this chore since continued root growth during the warmer seasons will help acclimate the plant to its new environment sooner rather than later.
One thing to keep in mind is the potting soil. Meaning, it’s best to scoop up some organic mixes made specifically for the plant your repotting. Also, regarding the upgraded container, you’ll want to choose something that’s obviously larger than the current option but not overly huge. Reason being that the roots won’t be able to absorb all the water in the soil of large containers so that could lead to rot. Now, when repotting, be sure to delicately handle the root system here. Keep the soil around the root ball intact and firm while leaving enough space at the top of the new container for watering – which you’ll want to do a bit more frequently upon repotting. Follow these steps and your growing companion will continue thriving within the homestead.
Green is Good
Clearly, there are some chores involved when owning and caring for indoor house plants. But, with just a little bit of persistence and attention, you’ll be amazed at how easy caring for them can actually be. Plus, what’s not to like about a touch of green amongst the bland appliances and wall paint in your home, condo or apartment. It’s also here where you’ll notice fresher air compliments of your indoor plant collection as well as a more “homey” aesthetic.
Bottom line, it pays to take care of your indoor plants on a regular basis. Because when you boil it down to the very basics, we too are animals that once lived amongst our natural surroundings so there’s certainly a nostalgic vibe to consider here. Plus, who wants to only look at screens and electronics all day? Not us. Instead, a bit of natural life in the home will serve to uplift the spirit and the soul on a day-to-day basis. Just be sure to care for your leafy roomates in the process.
Burrow Sofa: An Essential Addition
In addition to plants, every home needs a sofa. And with all the work and care that goes into being a plant parent, you deserve a luxury couch to admire your work. Fortunately, Burrow has you covered with this modular option that’s built right here in the USA from American hardwoods and features chemically-untreated, naturally stain-resistant fabric wrapped around incredibly comfortable and durable foam for pure relaxation after a long day.