Saturday, November 21, 2009

What I know about indoor gardening

The indoor jungle

Today I took a good look at my upstairs plant room and I didn’t like what I saw. The thing is, I’m a bit nearsighted and hadn’t noticed the little bugs on the abutilon. But I already knew that this was a common problem with these plants. Rather than fool around trying to combat the problem, I promptly ditched the plant.

Shocking? Maybe, but I feel that indoor plants require prompt action. Too many people feel that their indoor plants should just exist, requiring the absolute minimum of attention. The fact is that these plants are already in a stressful situation; to keep them alive, you have to keep your eye on them, and—as is necessary with any plant inside or out—give them what they need. They need humidity and light, which I provide with a humidifier and extra lighting. Their watering requirements are few, and interference in the form of extra trimming is also not appreciated.

The main thing to know about indoor gardening is that it is gardening. You can’t expect the plants to take care of themselves, but if you accept that casualties are part of the process, you’ll do fine. So I tossed my abutilon, but also happily welcomed 4 new amaryllis (hippeastrum) to my indoor jungle. Such are the transitions of the winter gardening season.

15 comments:

Ilona said...

I'm very nearsighted, too.
I used to spend many hours tending indoor plants... but now I often neglect them and they are much more temporary. I always feel guilty about that.

Carol said...

I have had to toss many plants due to mealybugs and finally I am mealybug free. Casualties are most definitely part of the process, just as they are in the outdoor gardens.

Diane said...

Yes, houseplants definitely benefit from micromanagement! I enjoy wandering through the plants every morning before work and usually can catch problems before they get out of hand. Best thing I ever did for my collection was moving it all to two adjacent rooms. The "decorative" plants placed gracefully into attractive pots in various rooms: I forgot about them and they didn't do well. The plants jammed together in the sunny rooms: I visit them every day and they do great.

Trey Pitsenberger said...

What kind of supplemental lights do you use? Grow lights or conventional lighting? I read a story about a NASA study that shows many types of houseplants help clear the air inside. Maybe houseplants are coming back in vogue.

jodi (bloomingwriter) said...

My big thing is remembering to water faithfully. Not so much the plants in my office (they remind me when they're gasping) but the ones in other rooms. Like those bulbs upstairs. Must go tend to them now!

Garden Wise Guy said...

Elizabeth: You're post reminded me of one of my landscape architecture professors when a student asked him if he grew houseplants. Responding that those were his wife's interest, he replied, "I put a roof over their heads. After that they're on their own." Good think wifey liked to stay involved.

EAL said...

Trey, I use hi-wattage compact fluorescents. I hate the look of grow lights.

It has been known for a long time that plants help clean the air, but I guess it's getting more publicity these days.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I have learned to be ruthless with plants that can't take my indoor neglect. I think they should be thankful I brought them in out of the cold freezing weather.

helen Yoest @ Gardening With Confidence said...

I like your attitude! H.

TC said...

My good friend Felder Rushing says, "It's not like you're married to it." Good advice.

From the both you.

Cindy, My Corner of Katy said...

I haven't had insect or fungal problems on my indoor plants but then I don't have nearly as many! You remind me I should just put the Pilea out of its misery: it's been struggling inside for the last few months and it's pitiful, to say the least.

Pam said...

I'm a horrible caretaker of indoor plants. I forget to water - and have a windowsill filled with plants in my office that are barely hanging on (note to self: water them tomorrow. yeah, right, like I'll remember to do it). I don't have a single indoor plant at home - if they can't survive outside with a blanket over them on cold nights, well then - they're toast. It's a cruel cruel world.

Ms. Wis./Each Little World said...

I'm usually ready for a break by the time we put the garden to bed. But I'm trying to keep a couple of orchids alive (and maybe re-bloom) as well as a Begonia. That should keep me busy but I will have no qualms about tossing them if they prove problematic!

Jean said...

That's a good lesson Elizabeth. You're saving your other plants by just tossing the infested one. I only have one plant indoors at the moment, my Meyer lemon tree. I'm afraid I would have a tough time tossing it even though I grumble about the frequency of bug attacks it gets. But indoors it seems to do okay. We'll see.

Anonymous said...

I've been going through online images of indoor gardens for inspiration. Yours is by far the best. I want that jungle feel as well. Thanks for the post and comments. I am still a beginner, but excited that the "jungle" look is indeed possible.