Indoor plants require less water than you think, especially as the weather cools. Be sure to use your finger as a water gauge, only watering if the potting mix is dry beyond your first knuckle.
Many plant do like a high humidity environment however, so misting their foliage using an atomiser can help. Also, if you need to have saucers under your pots, make sure plants don’t get wet feet. Filling the saucers with pebbles can be a good way to still capture the water, but lift the pot up out of any water. It can also increase the humidity around your plants.
Watering your plants in the shower, bath or kitchen sink is a great way of giving them a good soak, and also washing their leaves clean. If you happen to be going away, pop an old towel down and wet it through, then leave you plants on this with a slight drip,. Your plants will soak up their water like a wick and thrive in your absence.
2. Cleaning, tidying up and pruning plants
Just like plants in the garden, indoor plants also need pruning. Use sharp secateurs to trim off any dead leaves, wiping them down with some methylated spirits on a cloth between each plant to kill off any pathogens. You can also trim plants back when they have outgrown their position, though palms don’t regrow after you have removed their central leader, so be careful of this. Others though will grow from your prunings, like a happy plant or Dracena. Just repot them and they’ll sprout roots. Another good practise is to use a moistened cloth to remove any dust from your indoor plants. You can also use some white oil on the cloth to polish larger leaves like Monstera and Philodendrons.
3. Repotting (materials, plant growing media, pot bound, crocking, charcoal, material)
Signs your plant needs repotting include wilting, leaf discolouration and obvious roots girdling at the top or coming through the bottom of your pot. Or, hopefully comes a time when your indoor plants are growing so well that they need repotting because they have outgrown their pot.
Make sure you use a premium potting mix that’s formulated especially for the job. Orchids need orchid mix, succulents do best in cacti and succulent mix and terrariums like a mix with added moisture holding capacity from ingredients like peat of coco peat, or sphagnum moss. If you’re buying general all-purpose mix, make sure it has the Australian Standard ticks which mean it’s not going to cause harm to you plants, like some mixes can.
Gently tease out roots so that there is none circling, and cut off any thick mat of roots that may have developed at the base of the root ball.
After you have finished repotting, give your plants a good drink, and then a light application of seaweed solution which will help them resettle.
4. Positioning (light, temperature, humidity, acclimatising)
Where you position your plant depends on what it is you’re trying to grow. As a rough rule of thumb, plants with large leaves cope with darker positions than others, but they all prefer a well lit room rather than a dark corner! Try Monstera and Philodendron for lower light positions, or Rhapis or Kentia palms. For air conditioned rooms, try peace lilies or Chinese evergreens. Bathrooms, which can become quite humid, are not a bad spot for ferns as long as the light levels are high. For shelving, it’s hard to beat trailing heart leaved philodendrons and devils ivy. Figs like a bright spot and don’t like being moved – they tend to drop leaves if they change position, and then regrow them with a freshly acclimatised bunch!
Whatever the plant, try rotating them around so that they don’t grow towards the light. And if you really want something that doesn’t grow well inside, buy two and swap them inside and out in a sheltered spot outside every week.
5. Pests and Diseases
Indoor plants can be attacked by a range of pests. Some of the most common are mealy bugs, aphids, scales, red spider (also known as mites) and white flies. Most of these can be controlled using white oil, which doesn’t contain a poison, but rather, works by blocking their breathing passages. Diatomaceous earth can work well for fungal gnats and white flies, and Nature’s Way Citrus and Ornamental Spray can be useful on mites, which can be a problem on cyclamen and African violets as well as other indoor plants.