Steven Miedema of Garden Up advises on how to keep indoor plants happy and healthy:
The amount of light a plant receives is critical to its survival. Read up on your plant before deciding where to place it. As there is less light indoors, your choice is often limited to plants that enjoy low light/ semi-shade, unless you have a large northfacing window. There are many plants that will do well next to a bright window.
Over-watering is a no-no, as most plants don’t like waterlogged roots. This can cause root rot and prevents oxygen from getting to the roots, slowing growth and eventually killing the plant. It’s best to let the soil dry out in-between watering – apart from ferns and plants that need to be moist at all times. You can test the soil by lifting the pot to feel how heavy it is, or by sticking your finger in to see how deep the moisture is. Once the soil – or the first few inches of it – is dry, give the plant a good soaking with water, making sure the soil is completely wet and letting excess water run off.
Feed your indoor plants with a good organic liquid fertiliser about once a month or at every fourth watering.
Pests and disease
Indoor plants are much more susceptible to pests and diseases, which are promoted by warmth and lack of air movement. Keep an eye out for any strange markings or colourations on the leaves, or visible signs of bugs on the plants. To treat problems, it’s best to take a photo to your nursery to identify the problem and select the appropriate product. Tip A well-diluted solution of dishwashing liquid and warm water on the leaves can remove pests or fungi – but try not to get it into the soil.
Did you know?
A two-year study by the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) found that some houseplants are more efficient in filtering out toxins than others.Philodendrons , Spider plants, and Pothos (Epipremnum aureum ), for example, are most efficient at eliminating formaldehyde (from carpets, plywood, flatpack furniture and insulation materials), while Gerbera Daisies and Chrysanthemums were found to be effective in the removal of benzene (from particleboard and some paints), a known carcinogen. Remember, though, that plants will not do much to alleviate tobacco smoke or dust.