House plants for beginners
Within the past year, I have noticed a trend of succulents and other “tropical plants” flooding mainstream media. With that said, people, myself included, take on plants as decor without understanding the rules and intricacies of each.
As a novice botanist, I’ve developed a personal philosophy:
plants are more than home decor — they are little lives with multiple health, mental, and emotional benefits.
Why you should “garden”
According to an article by CNN, numerous gardeners attest a spiritual bond develops between themselves and the soil.
“Many gardeners view their hobby as the perfect antidote to the modern world, a way of reclaiming some of the intangible things we've lost in our busy, dirt-free lives,” explains Anne Harding.
Gardening provides multiple physical health benefits as well— it eases stress, relaxes muscles, and elevates mood.
More, houseplants assist with indoor air purification. Some species, and microbes associated with them, reduce indoor air pollution by absorbing capricious organic compounds.
Choosing Your Plants
As a college student living in an apartment situated on the second floor, a full-scale garden isn’t plausible, but potted household plants and herbs are.
Below I am listing plants that I or someone I know are familiar with:
Houseplants need correct light, temperature, soil mixture, and humidity to thrive. As well as the proper fertilizer and appropriately-sized planters.
Most houseplants are tropical evergreen species that adapted to survive in a climate which ranges from 60-80 °F year-round. This is similar to the temperature in most homes, thus the name “houseplants.”
Generally, my plants have a watering cycle of every 2-4 days depending on relative humidity and temperature, but the topsoil should completely dry between waterings. I house my leafy greens close to windows so they can collect their nutrients from sunlight. For additional nutrients, you can purchase plant food. Please check with your local forest nymph if you are unsure about the appropriate amounts.
Contrary to popular belief, I find succulents a challenge to maintain. It is best to water them by thoroughly soaking the roots at night, as they store their water in their leaves. Also be sure that in between watering, the soil completely dries; regardless if it takes two days for the succulent to absorb all the water, or two weeks. During the colder months, move your succulents away from windows, or else they will freeze.
Purchasing the incorrect soil is detrimental to plant growth and health. When I first began the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, I was unaware of the varieties of soil. Seedlings prefer a unique potting soil mix full of nutrients to firmly root them; however, this mix is composed of 25% Vermiculite, which aerates the soil and as a result doesn’t hold moisture as well. An easy fix is to mix the potting soil with dirt. Cacti and succulents prefer fast-drying formulas because they are accustomed to arid climates.
You should purchase planters large enough for the roots to spread comfortably.
Tips to keep them alive:
When potting your houseplant or herbs, remember to instill proper drainage. This can be done by ensuring there is a hole at the base of of your planter. If not, you can layer pebbles before adding soil and the plant(s).
Avoid over-watering: believe it or not, overwatering causes more plant deaths than under watering. You’re not giving your plants enough time to absorb the water, and as a result, the roots are drowning. Signs of overwatering are depicted by the leaves being yellow and wilted.
Remedy: Reposition the plant, so the roots have more room to breathe.
On the other hand, avoid under-watering: When temperatures climb, so do evaporation rates. Signs of dehydration are when the plant looks dry and feels crunchy.
Remedy: Plants should get at least 1” of water a week.
When tending to your babes, remember to cultivate a specific water schedule for each plant. As the season progresses, your plant might require more attention because of the heat.
There has been no more humbling of an experience than watching a plant grow under my care. Have fun and happy growing :)