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How to overcome challenges of indoor gardening

You could bring plants indoors because there is a dearth of outdoor space or to purify the indoor air or as an element to beautify the interiors. Whatever your reason for indoor gardening there will be many a challenge that you'll face. Here is your guide to help overcome the most common challenges associated with indoor gardening.

With most of us living in apartments, there is a common problem we face, the problem of a paucity of space. If you look at any regular apartment you will notice that there is not enough open space to practice outdoor gardening. The balconies are generally not large enough to inspire a green space. Such apartment dwellers can practice indoor gardening. Even if your apartment has a decent sized balcony, where you can grow an outdoor garden, adding a few indoor plants is definitely a good idea. Indoor plants are pleasing to the eyes; they purify the indoor air and double up as décor pieces. What's not to like about indoor plants?

Though I strongly recommend indoor gardening, the same can be quite a challenge. For one thing, not all plants can be grown indoors. Certain plants wilt and die if they are grown indoors. But, there are many varieties of plants that thrive indoors, and you can bring them into your space. But, remember, understanding plants and their requirement is important before embarking on mission indoor gardening.

Importance of light

Before you start growing plants indoors, you will need to understand the relationship between plants and light. All plants need light; most require direct sunlight, but the degree of light other plants need varies. Even indoor plants require some amount of light to grow healthy. So, before you venture into growing indoor plants take stock of the amount of light your home receives. Assess whether you get direct sunlight streaming through windows or whether your home receives just indirect light. The impact of the amount of sunlight varies immensely from plant to plant. There are a number of plants that will blossom even in the absence of direct sunlight. These are the plants that you can bring indoors.

Geographical location of your apartment

Knowing the direction of your apartment will give you a broad idea of the amount of sunlight you receive. An apartment with most windows facing the east will receive direct sunlight during the morning. A west facing apartment will get ample sunlight during the afternoon, and if there is nothing blocking the sun, you'll receive sunlight until the sun sets. Windows on the south side will get maximum direct sunlight as the sun traverses from east to west. North facing windows will receive bright light, but not direct sunlight.

Decide on where to place plants inside your apartment based on the direction the windows face. Of course, the selection of plants will need to be done with utmost care, because unlike the outdoors, indoors space is confined.

Solution to lack of sunlight

All plants need some amount of sunlight, for photosynthesis. You cannot grow healthy plants if sunlight (direct or indirect) is missing. If your apartment is surrounded by buildings or has tree cover that prevents sunlight from filtering through you will face a problem nurturing indoor plants.

So is there a solution? Fortunately, there is. You can support the plants by providing artificial light. You can install a small light bulb that can replicate sunlight in the corner where plants are placed.

Check toxicity and sharp edges

Some plants are toxic and are hence unsuitable if there are small children and/or pets at home. A few plants have thorns or sharp-edged leaves that can scrape the skin as you brush past them. If you are planning to bring them indoors place them in a spot where there is less human movement and away from pets.

Choosing the right soil

Indoor plants need a soil mix that does not retain water. Since direct sunlight is generally limited indoors, the soil if excessively watered can remain water-logged which could cause root rot and kill the plants. So, water indoor plants fewer times than you would water plants that are exposed to the elements throughout the day. Water once every four days in winter months and on alternate days during summer. Or else, experiment and see what works best for your plants.

Prune indoor plants

Pruning indoor plants is equally important. This helps them grow better and gives them good shape that enhances the aesthetics of your home. Pruning is especially important if you are growing bonsai plants. It helps restrict their size and shape.

Managing humidity, moisture, cold and heat

Every plant has a different requirement for humidity, moisture, heat and cold. Indoor plants are exposed to the indoor climate which is regulated as per human preference. We use air-conditioning in summers and heat convectors in winter to regulate indoor temperatures. However, air-conditioning units and heat convectors alter the humidity drastically. They, in fact, deplete the air of moisture.
The indoor temperature also becomes either too warm or too cold for plants and can have an adverse effect on indoor plants. The plants might not survive under such extreme conditions.

Ways to deal with this problem is to group plants together and either use a humidifier to control the moisture in the air or artificially create humidity, by spraying a fine mist of water over and around the plants, during the day. A bowl of water or an urli filled with water and floating candles or flowers can be placed near the plants.

Nutrients in the soil

Plants need more than just water and sunlight for their survival. They also require a nutrient rich soil. But, this does not imply that you overload the soil with fertiliser. Excess fertiliser can burn the roots and eventually kill the plant. Also, chemical fertilisers are not right for the indoor environment. They will release toxins into the air, which can affect the inmates. It is better to add compost to the soil as it is an organic fertiliser.

If you are growing plants for just foliage then water them regularly with an easy homemade fertiliser. Drop vegetable and fruit peels in water and use that water for the plants.

Watering plants

Watering indoor plants is not the same as watering plants that are in your balcony or terrace. There are a number of factors that need to be considered while watering plants that remain indoors, as the inside environment is different.

  • How much light streams into the corner where the plants are kept?
  • What is the indoor temperature?
  • What is the size of the containers?
  • Is there cross ventilation or steady airflow within the house?

Decide on a watering schedule based on the answers to these questions. Plants can do with excess water if they receive ample sunlight for 3-4 hours. If the indoor temperature is high then the plants can be watered more frequently. Small containers will need regulated watering. Plants in a room with solid airflow can be watered a little liberally.

It is best to select containers carefully. Ensure that they have proper drainage holes, so excess water, if any can drain out. Get containers with plastic plates that are placed under the containers to collect drained water. Layer the bottom of the container with small pebbles before you add the soil. This provides proper aeration.

Fighting infections and plant rot

Indoor plants are more susceptible to fungal and bacterial diseases than their outdoor counterparts. Check your plants periodically for distress or sign of disease or rot. The leaves will turn yellow, droop, wilt quickly or have visible white growth on the underside. It is time to take prompt action.

You can check with a nursery for organic solutions to help your plants. Alternatively, improve the airflow in your apartment by keeping windows and doors open during the day. Move the plants closer to windows that get light.

Do you have indoor plants? What has your experience been? Did you have any trouble nurturing indoor plants? How did you control the problem? Please feel free to share your experience here.

Article by Juana
Juana is a freelance writer, with years of experience, creating content for varied online portals. She holds a degree in English Literature and has worked as a teacher and as a soft skill trainer. An avid reader, she writes on a variety of topics ranging from health, travel, education and personality development.

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Author: K Mohan13 Apr 2017 Member Level: Platinum   Points : 6

Well I am not convinced with the concept of having indoor gardening. I know in cities there won't be space for gardening and at the most we can manage few pots in the balcony and that would be congested. But terrace of any apartment is the right choice to have gardening inside the compound. By having indoor gardening we may face with the problems of want of sun light, there won't be air circulation to plants which is necessary as we close the rooms and window when we go out and thus there are every chance of plants getting spoiled. Moreover in soil there would be formation of earth worms and other worms which can take diversion and enter other places inside the house and thus there would be whole mess. One more thing when there are children in the home, we cannot even think of having plants inside the room. Even at the growing stage the children would meddle with the leaves and even try to break the pot. And with God's grace if we have any flowers on those plants, surely it will attract the children to pluck and play. So I feel having indoor gardening is not feasible in those houses where children are living.

Author: Juana13 Apr 2017 Member Level: Diamond   Points : 8

There are dangers everywhere, but as intelligent adults, we learn to circumvent them. There are dangerous things in every house – knives, fire, LPG gas, dangerous chemicals and acids, there's hot water in the bathroom, there is a slippery floor after mopping and there are hard surfaces all around and plug points. Do we not take care to protect our children from all these dangers and more?

Do we chuck the knife and scissors and needles because we have children at home? We learn to keep them at a safe distance. The same needs to be practised by adults when they bring plants indoors. Keep the plants out of reach of small children – or better still teach them not to play around plants. Creepy crawlies can enter homes located on the ground floor - should people with children stop living in ground floor accommodation?

Indoor plants are known to purify the air. Do you know that recent studies have shown that indoor air is more polluted than the outdoors? The things in your home, right from furnishings to the varnish in your furniture and the chemicals in the wall paint constantly release dangerous chemicals into the environment. Would you not want to clear your home of all these pollutants?

The article is about overcoming challenges of indoor gardening. If you read my article objectively you will notice that it mentions –

1. Keeping plants where there is not much human traffic
2. Choosing a spot that gets sunlight
3. Selecting plants with care
4. Creating airflow
5. Providing artificial light etcetera

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