As we enter a new year filled with infinite indoor gardening possibilities, you may be thinking of some goals for your indoor garden.
Here are a few areas where your houseplants could use some improvements in the coming year, as well as some ideas for new indoor gardening adventures.
Pay more attention to watering
Proper watering is the key to healthy, happy houseplants. As a matter of fact, improper watering kills more houseplants than pests and diseases and lack of light combined. If you’ve been neglecting your plants and forgetting to water them, now’s a good time to schedule a time each week to check your plants for “watering readiness.”
To see if your plants are ready for watering, check the soil with your finger, a moisture meter or a wooden skewer. If the soil feels moist on your finger, it’s not time to water yet. When soil sticks to the wooden skewer, that means it’s moist and the plant doesn’t require watering yet. Moisture meters indicate if it’s time to water.
For small to medium-sized pots, you can also pick up the container. If it’s lightweight, it’s time to water.
Give more frequent feeding
While many houseplants can go for months without fertilizing, they do require feeding at some point. Depending on the plant, you want to fertilize every three to six months. Signs that a plant requires feeding include yellowing leaves and slow and/or no new growth.
Most houseplants can go up to six months without feeding, but there are some that will protest prior. These include flowering houseplants, such as African violets. If you don’t feed violets enough, they will stop flowering.
Repot, when necessary
Many houseplants can be grown in the same pot for years. As a matter of fact, some plants prefer to be pot-bound. Eventually, though, most houseplants require new soil and a bigger pot in order to continue thriving. If you don’t repot a plant in time, it will begin to slow in growth and may even start to shrink in its container.
Right now in winter isn’t a good time to repot. Rather than repotting now, top-dress plants with new potting soil. This means to put a one- to two-inch layer of fresh soil on the surface of the soil. This will give the plant a good supply of nutrients.
Re-pot houseplants in the late winter or early spring. When you do so, make sure to repot in just one pot size larger. When you’re done planting, you should have a one-third pot to two-thirds plant ratio. Potting in too big of a pot will quickly lead to root rot and plant demise.
Watch out for pests
If you’ve had houseplants fall victim to pests like mealybugs, you probably know how quickly these critters can take over and cause damage. Your best line of defense is to check your plants on a weekly basis.
Be on the lookout for white cottony spots, which could be mealybugs, and brown or gray bumps on stems, trunks or leaves, which may be scale insects. For the best luck getting pests under control, treat them as soon as you see them. Here are organic treatment options for the top five houseplant pests.
Add to your indoor plant collection
Want to try something new in your indoor garden? Now’s the perfect time! Perhaps you’ve dreamed about having blooming flowering plants indoors. Or maybe you want to try your hand at growing fruit trees indoors, such as citrus or an avocado tree? How about a theme garden, such as a succulent and cactus garden? Or an indoor herb or veggie garden?
With all of the great indoor gardening gadgets available, you can grow just about anything indoors nowadays. Just remember to make sure to grow with sufficient lighting. Your best bet is to use full-spectrum lighting, which comes in bulbs and tubes and can be used in any light fixture.
Julie Bawden-Davis is a garden writer and master gardener, who since 1985 has written for publications such as Organic Gardening, The American Gardener, Wildflower, Better Homes and Gardens and The Los Angeles Times. She is the author of , including Reader’s Digest Flower Gardening, , , and Indoor Gardening the Organic Way, and is the founder of . Her backyard is a .
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