Sometimes to grow the best house plants, we need a bit of guidance for when they are not doing what we thought they would. Some of our most frequently asked questions about indoor plants here at Eckards can be easily solved. That said there is no quick fix to a sad houseplant but what one can do is turn the tide towards growing stronger and better. This Eckards Blog post is about helping you get it right.
It's all about Position - Watering - Feeding and Bugs
Just as in a garden, indoor plants need light to thrive. Most houseplants have their origins in tropical climates where they grow naturally in shady areas that are protected and warm outside. Mimicking this gives you the best chance of success. Indoors their needs on light differ. There are plants for LOW LIGHT - that is where the room is almost dark enough to turn on a light during the day. MEDIUM LIGHT - can be best described as a room that’s light conditions change in the day, for example an east facing room.
HIGHT LIGHT is considered a bright room that gets sun in through the window but not right up against the window. Ideally a position set back away from direct sun. Low light plants can grow in all three positions but high light plants can’t. Growing in the wrong light conditions can lead to the plant not being as strong as it should be and bugs and problems can follow.
Tip: Just because a bathroom is bright does not make it high light. A frosted window will always change the conditions for plants to low light.
Water is the single most important factor in ensuring success from indoor plants. Watering them once a week to every second day is certainly not the best advice to follow. We will always recommend watering indoor plants every ten days for leafy greens and even less through winter. Flowering indoor plants are the only indoor plants that must be watered every week or better yet not be allowed to dry out. They should be damp but not wet all the time.
The water must drain freely out the bottom of the pot. If you give too little water that the water does not run out the bottom - the plant will be under watered and show signs of stress. Make sure the container has a hole in it before you start or that it is in a tray or overpot that can easily be emptied out. When re-potting use a premium potting soil such as the Pokon Potting Soil. Indoor plants don’t get compost etc as outdoor plants do so you only get one chance to give them the best.
All plants need fertiliser and often plant parents skip this important step and then after a few months the new pot plant looks a little less lush. Organic fertilisers are best but there is nothing wrong with a quick release fertiliser too. We like to alternate fertilisers because as with humans if you get the same diet continuously you don’t perform as well could by varying the nutrient intake J Water soluble is best as it gets the fertiliser to all the roots and not just one side of the pot. Our pick’s are Wondersol All Purpose or Nitrosol for organic and as a quick release fast results we love Multifeed Classic.
When the bugs do strike it is often a sign of one of the previously mentions requirements not being met and the setback makes it a perfect environment for bugs to strike. We recommend a broad spectrum contact insect control to clear them up. As an organic alternative spray we find that Oleum is the best choice. It has an oil base that leaves the plant leaves naturally shiny too which always looks nice and fresh.
The most common pest issues indoors are:
Little brown bumps on the leaves or stems - This is soft or hard Brown Scale insects and they can be tricky to clear.
White fluffy bits under the leaves mostly - often referred to as a fungus when you don’t know it because of the look. This is in fact an insect, Mealy Bug and often comes calling when plants don’t have enough air circulation.
A web with a red tinge and yellowing leaves - this is the hardest to control. Red Spider is a tiny, tiny insect that causes havoc when it is left unchecked. Often the best advice it to trow the plant out and start again but it can be controlled by spraying. But they spread fast and can infect other plants in the house if left to proliferate
Growing indoor plants is very rewarding and there are many health benefits to having them around your home and office. Read more on how to grow indoor plants on our additional article here.