By Joanne K, Extension Master Gardener Volunteer, Pitt County Arboretum
As the temperatures drop, we spend more time indoors missing the natural beauty of the great outdoors. One way to remedy that is to bring plants into our homes.
Indoor plants have many benefits. They connect us with nature. They add color and beauty to indoor spaces, creating a warm, inviting, and calming environment.
However, that's not the only reason to grow plants inside. According to NASA, houseplants have been shown to improve indoor air quality by reducing pollution from formaldehyde, benzene, and other harmful chemicals.
Other research has shown less dust and mold in rooms with plants since leaves and other plant parts are natural filters.
By following a few guidelines, you can enjoy the benefits of plants while successfully growing them indoors
Plants such as succulents and cacti rarely need water. If they appear wrinkled, that's the time to water. Other houseplants' water needs are determined by the temperature in your home, the type of plant, and the type of pot. Plastic pots hold moisture longer than porous terra cotta pots.
Light intensity changes seasonally with the more intense summer sun encouraging peak plant growth. Plants receive less light during the rest of the year, and this reduces or stops plant growth. At these times, plants need less water and fertilizer.
When fertilizing, use a balanced 10-10-10 houseplant fertilizer, carefully following package directions. Fertilizing encourages healthy growth and blooms.
Be on the lookout for pests such as mealybugs, scale insects, and spider mites that can invade your plants. Check periodically for insects, holes in leaves, and sticky excretions on the leaves from the pests.
Some plants native to dry climates such as cacti, succulents, and bromeliads prefer low humidity since their thick, fleshy, waxy, or hairy leaves hold water.
To keep your plants looking good, use pruning shears to remove spent flowers and diseased or dead foliage and stems. If needed, shape the plant with pruning shears.
As your plants grow, check for roots coming out of the drainage hole or above the soil line. These are signs it is time to repot. However, just go up one pot size each time.
Even if you don't have a green thumb, following these guidelines will help you to create a beautiful indoor garden.
Photos courtesy of NC State Extension Gardener Plant Toolbox
Anthurium— Anthurium— KENPEI CC-BY-SA 3.0
Croton— Codiaeum variegated var. pictum— Kathleen Moore CC BY 2.0
Snake Plant— Dracaena trifasciata— Form Mokkie CC-BY-Sa 3.0