With the loss of warm weather, lush foliage and typical stimulation, for some winter can be a bleak and underwhelming time. Just as the heating systems in homes simulate a warm environment, an indoor garden can mimic the outdoor atmosphere we seemingly crave.
Indoor gardens typically come with the fallacious notoriety of expensive greenhouses and impressive collections of exotic plants. The great thing about these gardens is that they come in all types of sizes and are expandable to needs, desires and skill level.
“I think the first step to starting an indoor garden is deciding what you want to grow. Ask experienced gardeners for help and do research online,” says Masuk teacher Mrs. Graney who has started to take horticulture lessons, the agriculture of plants. Graney has nine indoor plants and some of them are more than 20 years old.
After deciding what to grow, it is crucial to do research. This may seem unnecessary, but the more you know about a plant, the more attachment you have to it. Looking up topics like “sunlight requirement for…,” “water requirement for…” and “typical pests for…” can ultimately prepare you for the future. Research helps lay the foundations for the second step: choosing a location.
You may have an idea for the location of your garden in mind when you choose what you want to grow, but it is important to choose a location that matches your research and availability in your space. For example, say you get a tropical plant that likes humidity and your research suggests putting it in the bathroom. If you do not have space in your bathroom, you can put it on your windowsill next to a humidifier. Flexibility and compromise are key, and sometimes plants have to be moved. The environment of your home has to adapt to your plants, not vice versa. Graney suggests getting plants that are more adaptable than others.
“I would start with a few easy-to-grow plants like a Christmas Cactus and Peace Lily. Succulents are very hardy and they are easy to grow,” Graney said.
Arguably, taking care of plants is the most rewarding part of having an indoor garden. Plants need routine maintenance and give you a sense of dedication and responsibility.
Allow your plants to dry out completely between waterings. This gives the plant a break and prevents a common house plant disease called root rot that is the effect of overwatering.
Plants are living organisms. They go through phases of stress, nutritional deficiency and hibernation during the winter months, but most of the time they can be revived and nurtured. Make it a habit to check your plants’ leaves weekly for pests and fertilize them at least once a month.
Over time, you can add plants to your collection. Buy only what you like and would enjoy caring for. Indoor gardens cannot be put together overnight. Building them over years can be invigorating and help you keep interested.
“I think students would enjoy having plants. Seeing them grow and flower can give you a sense of accomplishment,” remarked Graney.
Guide: How to Start an Indoor Garden
- Choose your plants: Pick a category of plants that interests you or start with a single plant. Buying too many plants at once is overwhelming and does not give you time to find your niche interest.
- Research: Try to become familiar with your plant/category. Find multiple websites and browse through comparing information. Pests are most commonly disregarded when doing research. Indoors, plants will get pests like spider mites and aphids. This is normal and should not discourage you. Homes are dry and dusty and allow pests to thrive, but with research and preventative care, they should not be a problem.
- Location: Plants need a variety of different things. Some need more sunlight and less humidity, while some like to be in a complete shade. Make sure to choose a location that satisfies their most basic need: sunlight. You can adjust your environment to your plant: add humidifiers and grow lights if needed.
- Maintenance: Check your houseplants every day. Water your plants when needed with breaks in between waterings. Maintenance can also be in the form of admiring your plants and checking on them.