I have always generously admired the mountainous heap of verdant green girdling the valleys, the canopy of huge trees hovering over large strips of road, and the stubborn creepers climbing eagerly on giant old trees. Travelling through the hills is one of the intimate memory I have always cherished, and the picturesque views are so deeply seated that they appear on the canvas of my mind like dilated green paints, oozing nostalgia. Now, when I am living in the suave city, far from the mountains of the northeast, I find myself longing for a walk amidst the narrow roads hovered by tall trees and feel the gentle rustle of the leaves whispering to the trespassers. As the shift from the green lands to the urban terrain, with buildings and houses, arrayed close to each other, with trees sparsely seen here and there, made me a little uneasy, I thought of creating a tiny shard of green in my room. Growing indoor plants might be as demanding as taking care of a pet. Not just keeping them alive, but also feeding them with the right amount of light and water is important, and it's all about maintaining the balance.
People who are fascinated by the idea of indoor plants must bear in mind that just like any other venture, taking care of a plant demands patience and care. However, some plants cannot be grown indoors, despite the extra effort we put in. But there is also a group of plants that would spread its root and branches out without much pampering, irrespective of its surrounding. Some plants, despite the variation in climate, can grow without any difficulty in different places. I remember how the shoot of a plant that I got from the cold northeast, thrived in Kerala. This was one of the plants that needed little maintenance. As I started shifting to different cities, my longing for having a few plants in my room grew even more. In my experience, money plants are one of the most known indoor plants, which can be either grown in soil or dipped in water. Indoor gardening can seem quite easy from the outside, but it is important to create an atmosphere conducive to healthy growth.
I cannot recall the number of times people have complained about their plants dying. It's hard to see to leaves and flowers wither too early, or if the stem starts rotting. Most of the time it is difficult to bring back the dying plant to life, and sometimes we cannot do anything but be helpless spectators to the unpleasant view. Good intentions are not enough to keep our plants healthy, we also need to act carefully and be vigilant while parenting them.
Factors to consider when choosing indoor plants for beginners
There are numerous factors that decide the health of indoor plants. One of the important elements is light. As they are grown in an artificial environment, inside the four walls of a room, we ought to regulate the light that the plant requires. There are many plants that do not require a lot of sunlight in order to thrive. But there are also plants that can be damaged because of light. In such cases, it is better to place them near the east or west-facing window, so that the scorching mid-day light does not damage the plant, and arrange the positions of the plants according to their needs. The intensity for each indoor plant can vary from bright light, low light, and partial light. As light is one of the prime factors to synthesize food for themselves, it is definitely the foremost thing on our checklist, when placing an indoor plant in our home. Grow lights and light meters can be utilised to better provide our precious friends with the ultimate environment.
Water is another factor that promotes plant growth. But one has to understand how much water is too much and how much is too less. Some plants can grow in water, whereas some need soil to thrive, and some need some sprinkled over the soil. The requirements also change according to season and weather, and one needs to be keen about their plants’ requirements. Keeping the soil moist can be wonderful, but keeping it too swampy can be perilous for the plant. It is also quite important to check the water as some plants can be extremely sensitive to chemicals and PH levels and you can do so with moisture checkers. Getting yourself aesthetically pleasing watering cans could be an add-on to your home while pleasing your indoor plants.
Creating an amicable temperature for plants is another crucial area one must pay heed to. Sudden fluctuations in external conditions can have a huge impact on the plants. Plants convey the message to be cautious through their symptoms like curling up of leaves, yellowing, and falling out of leaves. Balancing water and light is one the easiest ways of protecting the plant from harsh temperatures. It is also advisable to keep the room temperature constant. You can always keep an eye on the changing temperatures with household thermometers.
Indoor plants are known for their air-purifying properties and their ability to produce more oxygen. Well, all these good sides are accepted by many of us. However, one needs to be extra careful when we have kids and pets in our house. These naive beings roam around the house and explore almost every corner of the house. Kids, when they start crawling, put everything in their mouths. These acts can seem to be adorable, but on the flip side, some of the things they put in their mouth can have ill-effect on their health. Some plants like peace lilies, and aloe vera can cause allergic reactions, whereas others can cause infestation, nausea etc. Well, not all can be harmful, some of them can also be culinary herbs.
There is a high chance that our pet cats, dogs, rabbits, and any other pets can ingest leaves or flowers of indoor plants. Even the very thought that our pretty plants can be fatal to our pets is unpleasant. It is advisable to not get such indoor plants though, it is advisable to keep a first aid kit at home to avoid any unpleasant situation. Good research on plants and the toxic elements they might contain, is always safe, for parents with either toddlers or pets. This awareness about plants and their harm can give us an idea of what plants can be perilous and help them place accordingly in our house, away from their reach.
Indoor plants are one of the best ways of beautifying our house. Some of us might be wanting to create an indoor garden, but also would be scrambling to get the right type of plants to begin this noble endeavour of gardening. Well, there are a number of plants that are easy to maintain. These plants are also best for busy people, who love plants but are worried if they would be able to meet their needs.
low maintenance plants
Pothos, which come in different hues, colours, and patterns, can be found almost in every house nowadays. These plants can be grown in water or soil and can be kept indoors or outdoors. They would grow at their own pace, irrespective of the place.
Cacti are a part of the succulent family and need very little water. The plant will thrive even if they are not watered for a few days. They basically like dry weather and lazy plant parents.
Aloe vera can also is one of these plants. Known for their cleansing and medicinal properties, it doesn’t need too much water, however, misting it every day would not do any harm. They also love bright light. So placing them on the verandah or near a window would be a great option.
low light plants
Anglaonemnas can be grown in shady places, and do not need to be exposed in sun for a long time. Its delicate wide, green leaves may wilt and change into yellow if exposed to direct sunlight for a long time.
Dumb canes can thrive in low light and diffused bright light. Depending on the variety of the plant, the intensity of the light may differ. However, like Anglaonemnas, these plants may begin to shrivel.
Snake plants are also low maintenance. These plants with tough and tall leaves can be placed anywhere in the house. They won’t mind if we keep it in a dimly lit, windowless room, or even in bright sun.
Air purifying plants
The white bloom of peace lily not only enlivens our living space but also cleans up the air by subduing the toxins. They are also known as cobra plants. They are also known for their ability to absorb acetone and mould spores from the air and make it suitable for us to breathe.
Spider plants are also known for their cleansing property. They help restore oxygen by eliminating harmful gases like carbon monoxide, xylene, etc.
Boston ferns also make excellent indoor plants. Its lush green leaves add to the interiors of the house, not only bestowing an elegant look but also acting as a natural humidifier by preventing dryness.
Caring for indoor plants
Choosing the right soil and pot is extremely important for plants. Soil is a storehouse of minerals and nutrients, and as they start losing their nutrients, they need to be replenished with the required minerals. Apart from this, the first step is to identify what type of soil might be right for the plant, which includes considering the water-holding capacity of the soil, and the ability to pass it to the roots. You can always find the right soil mix in online stores
Plants depend on soil, water and minerals, for growth, and it's part of parenting to understand the needs of our plants. Some need to be fed with fertilizers ( preferably organic), some need to be watered daily, and some weekly. Sulphur, potassium and calcium are some of the main nutrients that plant absorb through the soil. Adding fertilizers intermittently to promote the production of these nutrients restores the quality of the soil.
You should also keep in mind that plants love natural conditions. You need to be cautious while planting them indoors. It is always better to plant them in a terracotta pot or vessel. Earthen pots help pass more oxygen to the plants helping them breathe better, and unlike plastic pots, they absorb excess water. In a nutshell, terracotta pots act as shields for plants.
You must have often encountered disease-stricken leaves, stunted growth, premature yellowing of the leaves, and falling out of flowers. The reasons can be many- deficiency, infestation, unfavourable conditions like weather. However, if we are observant even about the slight changes in our plants, we can save them from diseases or pests.
Some of the reasons indoor plants are more prone to pest infestation are because of insufficient sunlight, damp soil and bad water drainage system for plants.
It would be cruel to use harmful chemicals and pesticides to prevent the plants from infestation, but the plants and soil will have to bear the brunt of such acts. Pesticides can rob the natural ingredients from the soil, which would eventually degrade the plants.
It is always best to choose organic methods to protect our plants. Manures produced from cow dung can be excellent pest repellants. In addition, they boost the growth of plants. Fertilizers produced from green waste is one of the easily accessible biodegradable and organic food for plants. There are numerous solutions that can be made at home, using natural ingredients to ward off pests and promote healthy and safe growth. Dregs of tea and egg shells can act as wonderful fertilizers; one can use the blend of garlic and chillies as pesticides to fend off pests. Neem oil and powder also work wonders when it comes to protection from pests.
Choosing the right placement and container
Our work doesn’t end with choosing the right plants Understanding the needs of plants and choosing the right place is the foremost step to their well-being. Air circulation, sunlight, and temperature need to be taken into account when deciding the place. Apart from the place, choosing the right container is also very important for healthy growth. We need to know how much space the plant will take up while it's growing. Irrespective of the type of plant, it is better to choose earthenware for plants grown in soil because of its eco-friendly property.
As the interest in indoor plants is rising, the usage of plastic pots is also on the rise, which is causing more harm than good. Choosing pots made of clay not only promotes local artisans but they healthy for plants, and our environment as a whole. In recent years, terracotta has been gaining popularity, and there are numerous brands that promote eco-friendly products.
Mittihub is a Rajasthan-based company that has varied products handcrafted by local artisans across the country. With an aim to promote local artisans and curb the exploitation they endure because of middlemen, they are also trying to revive the dying art of pottery.
Thandars Garden is a Kerala-based start-up, initiated by a product design student, who currently lives in Kochi. Her love for sustainable and organic products has nudged her to move forward with terracotta pots and accessories, adorned with hand paintings.
Kalapuri is a platform for local artisans of Kolhapur in Maharashtra. They encourage underprivileged women to learn the skills of making different home decor products, apparel, bags, footwear etc. With a blend of transitional and contemporary designs and patterns, they create a space for local artisans to trade their products in the global market.
Weaving Homes is a decor store that makes ceramic products for various household purposes. These products are made by the local artisans of UP and Rajasthan.
Creating a small garden indoors can be one of the best gifts one could give oneself- it would do a world of good. Imagine a walk through the verandah girdled with various shapes and patterns of plants, placed in unique terracotta pots, or waking up to the view of a window full of creepers and dangling leaves. Step by step, one can create an appealing interior.
As the number of buildings and apartments is surging, the space for plants and trees is dwindling. To combat the issues cropping up due to the damage humans have done to nature, one can do their bit by planting indoors and outdoors.