Starting and maintaining your indoor garden is an exciting thing, but with so many opinions, products and nuances it can easily become overwhelming. That’s why our Grow Kings experts have developed a guide for you, that breaks down and summarizes all the important things you need to know about indoor gardening.
It’s all about the position
- We all know the phrase, “everything has its place” Well that mindset applies to your indoor gardening. In fact, we think the space you’ve mapped out for your garden may be the most important factor that you should consider during this process. Different parts of your home or greenhouse can modify the effects on the life of your plant. Areas with too much sunlight can damage some indoor plants and vice versa. Indoor plants need a dim or interrupted amount of sunlight, since most indoor plants originate in tropical areas, where large forests shade the ground level plants. The best place for many plants is an area in front of a large window facing east or west. Consider filtering the light with a net scrim curtain.
- Windows facing south get the most bright sun throughout the day. So this spot is good for plants with variegation or those that have leaves with colored zones. This spot is also good for citrus and banana trees. Too much light can be an issue; if you see the leaves starting to yellow just move them away from the window.
- Windows in the western direction get the most direct sun, but miss the hottest part of the day. Stromanthe plants thrive in this environment.
- The east windows of your home are for plants that require little to medium amounts of sunlight. Tabletop plants, violets, and orchids tend to do the best in these types of settings.
- A north-facing window is often a controversial place for indoor plants, as the number of plants that can flourish there is limited. In general, flowering plants, like African violets or orchids struggle to survive in any north-facing window. However, we have found that the north window is suited to cultivating tropical rainforest under-story plants. Most commonly, people put gardenias, poinsettias, ivy, and oyster plants here.
Pick your plants carefully
- Plants for indoor gardening behave differently from plants who are normally grown outside. Not all plants can survive inside, as each one has special requirements for water, sunlight, humidity, and so forth. So when picking plants for your indoor garden you must be conscious of which ones you choose.
- Be sure to choose plants that are appropriate for your gardening space. You don’t want large plants if you have a small space. So no Florida palm trees in a small studio.
- When it comes to lighting conditions choose plants based on how much light you get. If your home doesn’t get a lot of sunlight, no worries. Try growing pothos, heart-leaf philodendron, snake plant, arrowhead vine, cast iron plant, dieffenbachia, or Chinese evergreen. A great option if you're looking for a plant that will flower in low-light growing conditions is the peace lily. But if you do get a lot of sunlight, try growing Norfolk Island pine, dracaena, fiddle-leaf fig, spider plant, croton, jade, or rubber plant.
Don’t let them go hungry.
- Your plants may spend all day inside, but it does not mean they are exerting any less energy. In fact, because they do not have access to the outside environment, indoor plants are more likely to quickly die due to not being given the right treatment. This treatment starts with feeding your indoor plants correctly and regularly.
- Buying fertilizer can be tough because there are so many brands and options. Consider buying a fertilizer specialized for the indoor plant you have. For example, some fertilizer companies have a special fertilizer mixture for succulents that you can use on cacti, aloe, and other succulents! Too much fertilizer can be just as damaging as no fertilizer, so when you feed the plants, remember to follow the instructions on the product carefully.
- Another tip you can use is to read the macronutrients contained in the fertilizer mix. Choose a mix that contains all the nutrients plants need like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potash. These nutrients encourage healthy foliage, root growth, and bigger and healthier blooms. But beyond the macronutrients, we find that the best fertilizers also contain micronutrients such as boron, magnesium, and manganese which all encourage healthier growth. So our more important advice: Read the labels!
- Not only are fertilizers for certain plants different, the method of delivery can also differ. Liquid, granular, and slow-release are types of fertilizers commonly used today.
- Liquid fertilizers are combined with water for your plants. The advantage of liquid fertilizer is that it provides a steady supply of nutrients that you can precisely control. The disadvantage is that you need to remember to do it every time.
- Granular fertilizers are dry pellets of pure fertilizer that can be mixed into the potting soil by hand. The advantage is that granular fertilizers are inexpensive. The disadvantage is that dump all their nutrients at once when the pot is watered, making it hard to control how much the plants are receiving at once. We don’t recommend this form of fertilizer for your house plants.
- Slow-release fertilizers are individual pellets that have a special time-release coating around them that gradually disperse nutrients into the soil. Depending on the brand some pellets can last 4 months and some up to 9 months. Most slow-release fertilizer is on the pricier side, but it’s definitely worth it!
Soil is not the only option
- Soil in a pot is the most standard and known way of planting, but over the years research has shown that it isn’t the only method of plating. One of the newest and most popular forms of indoor gardening is hydroponics. Rather than using soil, hydroponic gardening uses nutrient-rich water to grow and maintain plants. Very common for cannabis growers, the method can also be applied to other indoor plants.
- Not quite convinced about the benefits of hydroponics? Maybe some of these statistics can help. Studies have shown that hydroponic plants grow at least 20 percent faster than soil-grown plants and their yields are 20 to 25 percent bigger. Hydroponic gardening takes less space than soil gardening, and you actually use less water because the reservoir system is sealed, preventing evaporation.
Watering...it’s not that simpleYou may think watering a plant is as simple as taking some water and pouring it over the plant. But any experienced grower knows that too much of anything can kill plants, even water. Water is essential to plants and how we water our plants matters for your indoor garden. Indoor gardens operate differently from outdoor plants. The first thing to remember is that indoor plants have a limited capacity for where the water can go. Here are some foolproof tips that we practice at Grow Kings and are sure to make your indoor plants flourish:
- Check how wet your soil is. For indoor plants, we find that they really only need watering when the soil looks particularly dry. Soil inside does not dry as fast because of the more controlled environment. So push your fingers into the soil and lift it out. If no soil particles are left on your fingers, it's probably time to water your plant. If there are soil particles, instead of watering the whole thing consider spraying mist on the plants and branches. We recommend that you mist with room temperature water.
- Water from the bottom. This may sound weird, but when you water your indoor herbs, flowers, succulents from the top you’re more likely to over water them and may not reach the roots. Water from the bottom can help make sure the roots get the water they need. Watering from the bottom is simple; you just need a concave plate, not a bowl, because it is easy to overfill a bowl. Then you will need a pot that has holes on the bottom where the water can be absorbed. Simply fill the plate with some water and set the pot right on top. Flowering plants gain the most from this method of watering.
- Ice cubes are your friends. Probably the most underutilized but most efficient way to water indoor plants simply requires a tray and a freezer. Ice cubes have the benefit of melting slowly, and it’s easier to control the amount of water you are giving. People ask how many ice cubes to use, which is a difficult question to answer. We find best that it ultimately depends on the size of your pot and ice tray. We recommend 2–3 ice cubes for most standard indoor plants. Larger plants will obviously require more ice cubes.