Indoor plants, or if you prefer, houseplants not only add a little more life to the inside of your home but keep those gardening skills going during the winter. Your indoor plants need care just as the plants out in your garden during the spring and summer. Caring for houseplants will also help the winter go by much faster.
There are some advantages to having an indoor garden. One beneficial advantage is houseplants provide clean air to the environment; indoor plants and flowers consume the carbon dioxide we exhale and then send out oxygen for breathing. Houseplants have a tendency to give us more creative decorating ideas around the house and indoor gardening can be a relaxing hobby especially during the winter months.
There are several types of plants you can grow indoors including tropical houseplants. Some of the plants that are growing in your backyard will make wonderful houseplants. Begin by planting some of those outdoor plants in containers with a good potting soil during the early days of summer and leave them on your patio or deck so they will become established in their pots before you bring them indoors. The best time to bring them inside is during fall before the first frost.
Remember, the environment inside the house will be much different from an outdoor garden. Your house will be darker, cooler and a bit drier so some of those plants may end up growing slower or even become dormant. Outdoor plants that you brought in to grow as indoor plants will now have different needs and not require as much attention. You could kill a plant if you give it something it really does not need but they are still going to need the proper containers, temperature, light, humidity, water, nutrients, soil, and of course time for growing.
Porous containers, such as clay, allow air and moisture to pass through them. Plastic containers are lighter but need to have holes in the bottom for eliminating the extra moisture. All plants need to have plenty of room to grow; if your plant seems to be struggling or you begin to see roots creeping out, it is time for a larger container. Most indoor plants prefer the daytime temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees but during the night they prefer between 60 and 65 degrees. They do not like drafts but like to be placed in sunny windows during the day; during the nighttime hours in winter they should be removed from those windows that were giving them sunshine, that frigid air will be too much for them to handle.
Most varieties of houseplants do need as much sunlight because they are bred to thrive in shade or indirect sunlight. The outdoor plants that you are now growing as indoor plants are going to need that extra light. West facing and South facing windows will supply the best light, but if your plants are not getting enough they will let you know by leaning toward the sunlight. If you do not have enough sunny windows for your plants you can use garden grow lights placed about 6 inches above them. In regards to watering, you need to keep the soil in your containers moist, never wet. Once you learn about the needs of your specific plants you will find out when to water them. In general give them enough water so it starts to drain out the bottom; this helps remove extra fertilizer that is in the soil. After each soaking allow the soil to completely dry out before watering again. You can spray-mist your plants for added humidity or use a damp cloth to wipe their leaves a couple times a month.
The soil you use needs to be well balanced and the pH level should be slightly acidic. It also needs to contain a good blend of nutrients for indoor plants and contain peat moss, vermiculite, and fertilizer for drainage and moisture retention. Fertilizers keep the soil supplied with nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorous. But since the plants are now growing at a slower pace and use up a smaller amount of nutrients, they do not need fertilizers very often; if the nutrients become excessive they could damage the plants. These indoor plants are now growing at a slower pace and it will take them longer to produce flowers or fruit. If this is your first time growing indoor plants do not worry, you just need a little extra time to take care of them.