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Brian Bennett

Interior Plants

Maintaining plants indoors is very different from gardening outside; there is reduced light, restricted root growth, reduced need for water and nutrients, lack of moisture from the air, and adaptation to air conditioning and heat. Interior plants depend entirely on us to take care of them.

Before Purchase

Before making a large investment always do a little research!

  • Check the plants for insects or diseases.
  • If a plant is pot bound (a good sign of this is roots breaking through the pot) purchase a pot at least 2 inches larger to give the plant room to grow.
  • Check on the mature height of the plant. Will it grow too tall for the selected location?
  • Use only light weight soil less mixes. Never use topsoil or soil out of the garden to pot up your plants to bring indoors. The soil less mix provides good drainage and allows the plants to dry out.
  • Note the light conditions in the location you are purchasing the plant for.

Light and Temperature

The plants commonly used in our homes have been selected for their ability to adapt to interior conditions. Most have been grown "under shade" and acclimated to low light when you purchase them. You will have the best results by picking plants that have proven to be successful inside.

After purchasing your plants be careful not to expose them to sun or wind during the move home. Wind can shred leaves and break branches, and sun can scorch the leaves. Do not leave the plants in a hot car, it only takes a few minutes for the car to heat up leaving the plants lifeless. Likewise bringing a plant outside for a breath of fresh air can be fatal if allowed to bake in the sun. Also if you are moving them in the winter provide warmth during their transport. Plants are like people, they prefer moderate temperatures and do not like drastic fluctuations. Good locations for interior plants will be away from drafts like doors and air conditioning vents.

When artificial light is the only light available, 12-16 hours is desirable. If the plant has a flower this usually means it will need more light. (4 hours of direct sun a day.)

Water

Over-watering is the number one cause of decline for plants in indoor locations. When in doubt, do not water! Let the soil dry out first then thoroughly water. Use your finger or soil probe to find out if a plant is dry enough to water. Probe into the soil as far as possible. Just because the top of the soil is dry does not mean the rest is dry. Under low light conditions the plant's growth rate slows so it doesn't take up much water. A plant that almost wilts from no water has a better recovery rate than if you over-watered it. A good rule-of-thumb is to water until the water starts to come out the bottom of the container, unless there is no drainage. With practice, the time to water can be determined by the feel of the soil or the weight of the plant.

Fertilizer

Plants in low light conditions require very little fertilizer. In fact, the risk of damage from the buildup of excess fertilizers in the soil through over fertilization is worse than no fertilizer at all. For all green tropical interior plants use a balanced slow release fertilizer every 3-4 months at a rate specified by the manufacturer. Remember too little is better than too much. Watering slowly activates the fertilizer pellets giving the plant nutrients in small doses. Flowering plants may need a boost, use a general water soluble fertilizer once a week to keep them flowering and healthy.

Pests and Diseases

Mealybug, scale, and mites are among the most common pests to attack indoor plants. A routine inspection of the leaves and stems of your plants is recommended. A monthly cleaning of your plant with a sponge or soft cloth and a soapy solution is beneficial. It will not only take care of most pest problems but will also take care of the dust that tends to accumulate on many indoor plants. Most diseases occur when we over-water. Root rot, leaf yellowing, and leaf drops are symptoms to look for. In you notice these symptoms, let the plant dry out and try moving it to a location where it gets natural light. If the pot has no drainage you can replant it in a container that has good drainage.

Grooming and Cleaning

If you have done a good job of matching the plant to the location and regulating the watering, the need for grooming will be minimal. The occasional yellow leaf should be removed, and long runners on hanging baskets pinched to encourage the plant to fill in. Resist major pruning - most indoor plants do not have enough light to support healthy regrowth. Having a sharp pair of scissors is a great way to shape up a plant with old leaves. By cutting off the brown tips you can make your indoor plants look brand new.

Containers

  • Try to use a container that provides drainage. If this is not feasible remember to watch the watering.
  • If it has a saucer underneath, do not let water sit in the saucer. If the plant does not use the water by the next morning, discard the remains out of the saucer.
  • If placing the plant on a patio, weight down the inside of the container with rocks or pebbles before planting. This will prevent the container from blowing over in the wind.
  • If you have a large container you can add polystyrene peanuts to the soil to help with drainage and make it lighter for an indoor location.
  • Make sure the container is not too large for the plants. Some plants are slow growers and an oversized pot may cause root-rot.

Flowering Seasonal Plants

When it is cold outside, potted flowering plants can bring color indoors. If given a bright, sunny window flowering plants will continue to set new buds for months. Some varieties can be planted in the garden afterwards bringing years of continuous enjoyment. Depending on where you live, seasonal plants may have to be discarded when their flowering period is over. Doing research to see what will grow in your area is always your best bet.


TABLE OF CONTENTS

Introduction

Garden Tours

Barb's Top 10 Disney Garden Attractions

Brian's Top 10 Disney Garden Attractions

Tips: Right Plant in the Right Place

Tips: Interior Plants

Backyard Habitats

Butterfly Gardening

Bonsai and Penjing

Water Gardening

Flower Gardening

Cutting Gardens

Disney StyleTopiary

Disney Style Horticulture at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Disney Style Hanging Baskets

Disney Style Floating Gardens

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