Gardening: Busy? There is still time for indoor plants

Indoor gardening is a learning process that thrives on trial and error. In order to recognize changes in your plants and adjust your care accordingly, you need to keep an eye out for them.

For the novice or busy professional gardener, checking out your leafy green friends is probably the last thing on your to-do list. Don’t worry; We have selected a list of simple and useful gardening tips that you can read during your lunch hour.

Get this: Some plants thrive on neglect and low maintenance. This is great news for a busy jetsetter like you. You don’t have to resort to fake plastic plants. Instead, you can carefully select the types of plants that will thrive with the amount of care you can provide. If you feel like you’re overextending yourself with the types of plants in your collection, it may be time to replace them with something faster.

Zanzibar gem, snake plants, lady palm, potho, and asparagus fern are notoriously hardy houseplants, but there are many more to investigate. Succulents are a popular fad, with many beginners choosing some because of their attractive colors and affordability. However, it is essential to note that most succulents do not thrive indoors.

Succulent varieties that require more direct light will wilt and lose color without it. Etiolation or “stretching” is an unhealthy and stressful condition for your friend, and it doesn’t look very good.

Succulents that work well in indirect light or along a window sill include varieties of haworthia, aloe, gasteria, kalanchoe, and burro’s tail. All variations of these plants react slightly differently to low light, so it’s still imperative to check on new plants regularly.

What’s in a name

Many people like to anthropomorphize their plants with names, which is fine as long as they remember their Latin or English nicknames. Keeping track of plant types can get confusing, especially when your collection grows in number.

However, knowing your species is vital when troubleshooting specific plant problems and diseases. It’s also just plain fun to build a mental catalog of species and their complexities.

Research is a very important tool when developing your plant’s IQ. However, books and some simple Google searches should not be underestimated in their value. Another great idea that most people never consider is browsing Facebook groups or Reddit pages. There are hundreds of plant groups that exist to share information about species.

There are even specific pages for beginners or certain types of plants. Learning from the mistakes of others is much faster than learning from your own.

Turning on

By finding the right lighting conditions for each of your plants, your freedom to leave them with minimal maintenance is greatly expanded. But lighting is such a vague subject. Online guides and labels that come with the plants will use confusing phrases like “indirect bright light.” But how does all this translate to the lighting in your home?

Direct sunlight is light that travels directly from the sun to the leaves of your plant in a direct line. East-facing windows will provide direct morning light, which is less intense than afternoon light. West-facing windows will provide harsher, more direct light, burning succulents and many other plants, especially if they are not properly acclimatized.

Indirect sunlight is light that is bent and diffused from another surface, such as curtains, furniture, or other plants. You can detect indirect light if a room is well lit, but nothing is covered by the warm orange light of the sun.

High, Medium and Low light levels can be thought of as the amount of Lux (lumens per square meter) your species needs to grow healthy and strong. High ranges from 1,614 to 10,764 Lux. Mid ranges from 807 to 1614 Lux; down from 270 to 807 Lux.

Keep in mind that light levels are not the same as light type (direct/indirect) as some plants need a lot of indirect light. This would mean that the plant benefits from indirect light for a longer period of the day. You can use portable electricity meters to help you troubleshoot.

Lighting is tricky; sometimes you won’t recognize that a plant is reaching for light until it’s too late. When moving a plant to an area with more light, do so gradually. A sudden, sharp increase in temperature and light can shock plants and often cause them to get sunburned.

Be sure to rotate your plants a quarter to half turn every week, or they will only grow in the direction of the sun. Finding the right lighting for a species is often the hardest part, but it’s easy to navigate once you get the hang of it.

to prune or not to prune

Houseplant pruning is often overlooked, but it can help your collection stay healthy and beautiful all year long. To understand when and why to prune, it helps to understand the growing seasons. Most indoor varieties will benefit the most from pruning early in their growing season, which can occur from late winter to early spring.

Plants require a lot of energy to produce and maintain flowers and leaves, so any aging or dying or offset flowers are holding back growth potential. A good trimming of old and dying plant matter can allow your plant to focus energy and resources on new growth for the season.

Also, decaying plant matter is a perfect home for pests and mold, so you’ll want to remove it right away. For flowering varieties, be careful not to cut back new growth until after they have flowered, or you may be cutting off a potential bud.

Some species, such as bonsai varieties, require pruning for aesthetic purposes only. It can also be used to encourage full and balanced growth, especially for trailing plants desirous of growing long and thin. Careful trimming can create offsets that produce a thicker wall of foliage.

Some people clip offsets for propagation purposes. This is especially popular for succulents and tropical plants. However, when succulents are etiolated, they can only grow thicker once the sunlight is corrected. Because of this, many enthusiasts choose to cut off healthy new growth and propagate an entirely new, healthier plant.

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