FOR THE GREEN THUMBS

FOR THE GREEN THUMBS

Besides, recent research has reaffirmed indoor plants’ efficacy in diminishing air pollution. So, how about raising a little garden indoors?

Beleaguered by doubts? Let’s clear them.

What kind of house-atmosphere suits my indoor-gardening hobby?

Humid, cool or dry – you can grow indoor plants suitable for any of these atmospheres.

What kind of plants can I grow indoors?

Various flowering and foliage plants apart from cactii and succulents. Any gardening guide will tell you which.

How many?

Depending on the space available, a handful or a room-full.

What do I grow them in?

Pots, boxes or terrariums

The easiest arrangement?

Individual pots. Also the safest and least expensive option for beginners.

The optimum pot-size?

Neither too huge nor too tiny. The former’s heavy moisture-retention induces root-disease/rotting, while the latter curbs plant-growth. Usually, re-potting is required after a year or two. Clumping of roots just beneath the soil-surface indicates it’s time.  
Porous (clay) pots’ aeration-ability is superior to that of non-porous ones (glazed/plastic). Drainage holes to allow excess water outflow are essential.

Factors determining my selection of plants

Light/sunlight, temperature, humidity and ventilation.

How to use light:

Place plants seeking direct sunlight near a sunny window. The same location with shades to dull the sunlight can be used for others that don’t demand so much sunlight.

If natural light isn’t adequately available, fix fluorescent lights 10-14 inches above the plants. Cool, blue fluorescent lights are ideal for green, foliage plants and warm/red ones for flowering ones.

Since blossoms turn towards light, rotate the pots frequently to make the flowers visible to the room’s occupants. Otherwise, only folks passing by your window outside can enjoy them.

What about temperature and ventilation?

Selecting a plant suitable to your house’s environment simplifies your task. 60oF-75 oF is okay with most plants. Begonias, primroses and geraniums thrive in cooler settings (50 oF-60 oF while the African Violet requires high temperature (70 oF-80 oF). Avoid exposure to hot/cold drafts and warm appliances.

If your house isn’t breezy enough, keep a small fan on low at a distance from your plants for better air-circulation.

Safeguard against chilly, night temperatures in winter by drawing heavy curtains and layering the window-panes with newspaper sheets. Else, move pots away from the window at night using a trolley.

Watering: How much?

Liberal watering when the pot’s soil-surface appears dry helps rather than frequent, little doses. Most plants should be watered from above. Place trays, plates,shallow basins underneath the pots to collect excess water flowing out. Remember, overwatering spawns mould, mildew or fungi, while under-watering kills the plants.

Avoid using hard water. Collected and stored rain-water is ideal. Leaving tap-water in buckets for a day enables the chlorine in them to evaporate.

Is maintaining humidity difficult?

Not very. Place pots in a tray of moistened gravel to heighten humidity.

Or, spray foliage lightly at intervals. Else, group plants closely together in non-draft areas.

Any special soil required?

Yes. Readymade potting soils contain soil conditioners besides a combination of peat/coir and vermiculite/perlite. Your outdoor-garden soil only brings the worms and weevils inside!

And plant foods?

Sure. But, unnecessarily feeding fertiliser harms the plant. Never add it to dry soil.

So, my plants can handle pollution problems themselves, right?

Wrong! Dust, grime and fumes settled on leaves hinder transpiration and choke the plants. So, clean them regularly. Wipe shiny, smooth leaves with warm water. Gently give hairy ones the occasional brushing. All plants need a daily change of air.

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