Taking Care of Indoor Plants
Indoor plants can add a beautiful touch of nature to your homes; make spaces look more vibrant and fresh. Along with being an aesthetically pleasing decor for your home, they purify the air and they carry tons of health benefits.
In conversation with Maya Ghale, The Plant Shop Ktm, Jhamsikhel, ig: @plantshopktm, Fb: The Plant Shop Ktm
Indoor plants can add a beautiful touch of nature to your homes; make spaces look more vibrant and fresh. Along with being an aesthetically pleasing decor for your home, they purify the air and they carry tons of health benefits. There are different procedures to take care of indoor plants, and for beginners, it can be a tough responsibility to keep your plants alive if you’re not used to it.
We talked to Maya Ghale, from The plant shop ktm, to dig deeper into indoor plants, their benefits, and how to sustain a healthy life for them.
What are the health benefits of having indoor plants?
Out of all, the most popular health benefit is their ability to improve the air quality. Nepal recently topped the list of countries with the worst air quality, and many aren’t aware that the air inside our homes is worse than the air around the city. That’s because as the pollutants enter our homes, it is extremely difficult to get them out, leading the bacteria and viruses to stick around. Plants release airborne chemicals that tackle the pollutants and balance the air, giving us safer and healthier air to breathe. More plants give out more oxygen that helps our bodies work effectively and helps us feel less fatigued and cloudy.
To add on, plants teach us to be patient. Plants are patient and docile. That’s why, as they say, plant people are kind people.
What are the most needed parameters inside one’s home environment to take into consideration for it to be plant friendly? And how can one maintain those parameters?
First things first, know your plant. Always ask for at least the name of the plant you’re bringing home, oftentimes the nurseries fail to give any information on what plants the customers are bringing. If that’s not possible, ask a friend or google it up. These days some apps help you identify a plant too! It’s very important to know what plant you have before anything.
The first question that I ask my customers when they inquire about house plants is how the light situation is at their house. Light is the most important element for a plant to live happily. If you see a plant on the web or at a friend’s and liked it so much you want to buy it, check if the plant would suit your place or not. There’s one plant for every corner and there are hundreds of options for plants that may suit your space, choose wisely.
- Soil and Fertilizers
Like I always say different plants have different needs, prepare soil mixes according to their need. You can use your garden soil but when bringing it indoors it can be too heavy for your plants, plus you never know if they’re contaminated.
Cocopeat, my personal favorite, a waste product from the coconut industry, is great water retainers and is pertile in quality. Plants that need less water require more pertile fertilizers. If perlite isn’t easily available use good old rice hulls! They're the cheapest alternative to perlite and they’re found everywhere.
Most plants go into dormancy during winter, so less activity means less water and less or no fertilizing. Fertilize your plants only when they’re actively growing during spring and summer. There are different fertilizers to choose from just make sure you read the label correctly and use it mindfully. Too much fertilizer could kill your plants. I like using seaweed fertilizer, they’re the best.
Rather than keeping a watering schedule, build a habit to check your plants. Stick your finger inside the soil, if it feels dry about 2 inches down that’s when you water your plants. That’s the general rule for most house plants. Except for some plants like succulents; they hold water in their thick fleshy leaves, while the ZZ plants or spider plants store water in their fat rhizomes. So, make sure the soil is bone dry before you water them again.
Winter is a dormancy period for most plants so like less goes no fertilizing - water less often than you’d in summer or spring.
Then comes the commitment you can give to the plants. Some plants are finickier than others. They need extra TLC than a human baby, seriously! If you’re not ready to commit or if you’re just starting with taking care of plants, then start with the simpler and easy ones and then eventually move on to the drama queens.
Time, experiment, and experience are all you need!
What kind of plants can be unsafe or unfavorable in a general home environment?
Some common house plants like peace lilies, poinsettia, pothos, some philodendrons, dieffenbachia, caladium, etc which we see in most households are toxic to children, pets, and even elderly people. You don’t have to get rid of them if you have them already, just hang them on a basket or put them on the shelf when they're not accessible. Snake plants and jade plants which I believe is every plant lover’s favorite could turn deadly for your pets if ingested in large amounts. So keep them off the ground or anywhere where it’s easily accessible.
Steps needed to pot a plant:
- Firstly, find the perfect place for your plant where it can get as much light as it needs. Select a plant that suits the light situation of the place you’ve chosen.
- Select a suitable container; Clay pots, grow bags, old buckets, and even bottles can make great containers for your plant. It’s also a good idea to select a container that’s at least 25 percent as tall as your plant is likely to be. This will make sure that the plant’s roots will have enough space to grow.
- Make sure the pots have a good drainage hole to drain excess water. The drainage hole should be obstruction free so the excess water can flow easily and freely. You can use a handful of pebbles, or place the broken pot or tile pieces around the drain hole to make sure the soil doesn’t clog it.
- Prepare your potting mix to suit the type of plant that you’re planting. For instance, add more soil amendments like perlite or rice hulls for better aeration for plants like succulents.
- Plant your selected plant firmly in the center. Press the potting medium firmly around the base of the plant and water the pot lightly until you see the water draining out at the bottom, and keep the soil moist, not damp.