Do you really suck at caring for indoor plants? Here are our quick facts to guide you on becoming a plant foster parent.
- The Chinese may have installed plants indoor over three thousand years ago, before even the Egyptians were building pointy tombs!
- You would need a forest of indoor plants to change the oxygen levels in your house even minutely. Like 100 per room.
- Plants remove pollutants like volatile organic compounds. Well, they do, but microbes in the soil do a better job. Trouble is that pollutants from paint, carpet and aerosol sprays continue to contaminate indoor air.
- Indoor plants need light to grow but even the brightest room does not compare with light available in a natural environment.
- If it looks sick, more fertiliser wont necessarily help. Indoor plants can die from (in probable order) lack of water, too much water, too shaded, bugs that chew and suck, too much fertiliser, poor soil aeration, lack of humidity, cold and nuclear fallout.
So lets consider if you could be a candidate for plant foster care.
These elements are necessary - a loving home life where you promise to give a plant water if it needs it, cut back when it’s had too much to drink, the occasional watering with fish emulsion, a wipe over of leaves to keep it shiny, a wipe over with rubbing alcohol if you see sucking insects and a promise not to leave it out in the sun after those cleansing rains have passed. Can do that? OK, lets continue.
You may be presented with a number of choices. They will be kept in a shaded part to avoid sunburn and most will be good choices.
Foolproof species will have a leathery feel to the leaves. If you are new to indoor gardening these are the ones to buy (Anthurium andreanum Fantasy Love, Anthurium Sugar Love, Dieffenbachia "seguine" Tropic Marianne, Syngonium Podophyllum Pixie, Calathea "makoyana", Calathea "louisae" Freddy)
Avoid dainty leafed specimens and plants with flowers unless it’s a presentation thing. Chances are that in your indoor environment they will never flower again. Tough is good.
Plants need light to function. Each species will have differing light requirements so you may have to experiment with position. Consider that in nature, only a few plants grow in deep shaded locations. So find a bright position, out of direct sunlight, as a general rule. See Indoor plants 1.02 for troubleshooting.
Just moist is just right. Check regularly to find what is the right frequency but be prepared to water more or less according to changing conditions.