Indoor gardening tips from a Becker County master gardener


You cannot realistically save or earn money by growing a plant – edible or not – indoors. Indoor plants do not purify the air or affect the humidity in the house. Houseplants do not affect the oxygen or carbon dioxide levels in the home, and there is no concrete evidence that plants can directly alter mood – unless one ingests one. specific plant one way or another.

Many people grow plants indoors and have reasonable success, having learned the ropes through trial and error or by observing family and friends. Most people are pretty successful and don’t need any advice, so I intend to talk to the newbie – one who doesn’t grow things inside but wants to get started. First of all, I would suggest buying plants rather than starting from seeds.

Growing plants indoors can be a relatively painless process, even for those with relatively little experience. (JoAnn Dobis / Becker County Master Gardeners)

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What kind? Consider Zamioculcas zamiifolia – the ZZ plant. He is a native of East Africa and it is almost impossible not to push. Many say it’s not pretty, but it’s a plant. A related plant is pothos, or devil’s ivy, which is pretty and grows like creeping ivy. (This variety is slightly poisonous, so it may be advisable to avoid households with children or cats). Chinese evergreen foliage is easy to grow, as are asparagus fern, spider plants, and English ivy. Aloe is also almost indestructible. There are hundreds of other types of plants that grow well and easily in your home – ask the store person.

Where? All plants need different amounts of sunlight and the best amount information shown on the label that comes with the plant. Close to windows is always preferable, and at this latitude (north of the 45th parallel) one might consider increasing sunlight with electric lights. LED lights have become inexpensive and are available in the specific wavelengths used by plants. If using artificial light it is imperative to use a timer, as the amount of darkness is what sets a plant’s internal clock and if this changes randomly the plant may be ” confused ”. Timers should be set to extend afternoon light by 2-3 hours each day, starting in mid-November, fading in March to zero extra light by the end of March.

How? ‘Or’ What? Besides sunlight, all plants need water and nutrients, but not as much as you might think. Overwatering is the most common cause of houseplant death (excessive fertilization passes right after). Very few plants need water more than once a week, and many do not need that much. Add water when the soil is dry, not necessarily when the plant looks droopy. If the soil can be compressed into a ball and retains this shape, there is sufficient water in the soil. Too little water is better than too much (up to a point).

Most potting mixes contain enough nutrients to last for years and have an acid content adjusted and buffered so that these nutrients can be easily utilized by the plant. For houseplants, it’s probably best to use commercially available soils, unless you want to have your soil tested for pH and nutrient content. These “potting mixes” drain well, so rocks and debris at the bottom of the pot are unnecessary.

Dead leaves, stems and flowers should be removed when seen. Plants should be pruned to control size and shape in the fall. Terracotta pots are the best.

Temperature? If there’s ice inside the window closest to the plant, it’s probably too cold. Do not put plants between the curtains and the glass. A plant should not be in the path of the air blown by a heater.

It’s time to put your plant in a larger pot when the exposed dirt is difficult to penetrate with your finger, or the water is simply sitting on the ground without soaking up, or you can see roots coming out of the holes in it. drainage at the bottom. If the plant remains healthy and growing well, repotting will be necessary every 12-18 months. Spring is the best time to repot.

Pests, problems? Mushroom flies (some people call these “fruit flies”) are an indicator of overwatering. Mites are almost inevitable, it seems – insecticidal soap applied weekly until they disappear is effective for them, as well as for aphids. This would be applied (after dilution as explained on the label) using a sprayer.

Indoor plant diseases such as fungal leaf spots, powdery mildew, and root rot can be treated, but sometimes it is best to just throw the plant out and replace it before the disease spreads to other plants. other plants.

Indoor plants are an effective way to beautify your home; growing them is easy and rewarding, as well as inexpensive. I think there should be at least one in every room.

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