If bringing some much-needed green into your home has been a challenge, follow these guidelines from indoor-gardening expert and , whose recent book offers inspiration for miniature gardens anyone can master.
1. Position plants carefully- Choose plants that suit the environment, as even the most dedicated gardener can't make a sun-loving plant thrive in a cold, shady area. So, ensure that your plants are suited to the light levels and temperature of the room in which they'll be positioned.
2. Try to avoid direct sun- Windowsills in direct sunlight will be too hot for most houseplants. Also, don't place houseplants over direct sources of heat, such as radiators.
3. Avoid shady areas- Ensure there is sufficient light for your houseplants to photosynthesize effectively.
4. Avoid temperature extremes- Keep delicate plants away from draughts, as these will decrease humidity levels.
5. Pot on regularly- Aim to repot your houseplants into larger pots every two years or so. This will ensure that they are not stressed and will thrive.
6. Be well equipped- Use the proper tools for indoor gardening. A long-spouted watering can and a mister to increase humidity are both essential for reducing dust levels, as well as dealing with pest and disease outbreaks. A long-handled fork and a pair of scissors are great for accessing difficult areas, while a sponge attached to a long handle will keep glass containers clean.
7. Water wisely- Don't overwater houseplants; adding some drainage material at the bottom of the pot will help to keep roots aerated and ensure that they don't drown.
8. Winter dormancy- Allow houseplants to rest during the winter period and move them to a cooler position. This is because most plants are dormant at this time, and so don't need as much sunlight. You should also reduce the amount of water and food you provide, as this can help to prevent diseases such as mold and root rot. Move plants away from windows because these areas will be too cold in the winter.
9. Be vigilant- Learn to recognize potential problems early on before a pest infestation or other physiological problems kill off your plant. For example, danger signs for low air humidity include flower buds falling off, leaves withering, and leaves with brown tips. Signs of high humidity include mold, rot, and soft growth.
10. Think long-term- Some popular houseplant gifts only have a short growing period, so choose plants that will thrive for longer if you want a year-round display.Excerpt from The House Gardner by Isabelle Palmer.