There’s a lot that goes into growing a healthy indoor garden. Luckily, much of the care for your garden is very easy and won’t take more than a few minutes each day. In this article we’ll look at 10 easy to implement tips that will have you growing a thriving gardening in no time. Each of these requires only a few minutes, and will pay you back with years of thriving plants.
1. Start With Healthy Plants
The first step to any thriving garden is to start with healthy plants. Choosing plants that are already showing issues sets your garden up for failure. You want to start with strong healthy plants that give you the best chance of success.
When selecting plants make sure to carefully check for any issues. This includes dead or dying parts of the plant, signs of pests like leaves, discoloration, and weak stems. Any of these can be signs that the plant is having trouble surviving.
This is why it’s important to buy from a reputable seller if purchasing online. You don’t want to be buying plants that are already starting to die, as this will make it that much harder to start your garden. If you’re starting in season, consider visiting a local nursery so you can examine your plants before bringing them home.
2. Choose The Right Plants
On the topic of plant choice, it’s also important to make sure that you select the right plants for your growing space. Choosing plants that are incompatible with your gardening area will make it more difficult if not impossible to grow them.
The two biggest things to keep in mind are how much physical space you have to grow in and how much natural light that space gets. If you want to grow something big like a pineapple then you’ll need to have the space and light for it.
Trying to do so in a small, low-light location is going to be nearly impossible. You can get around the natural light issue with some grow lights, but lack of space is going to be much harder to deal with. Make sure that the plants you choose are adapted to grow in the space you have. Otherwise, you’ll make things that much harder on yourself.
3. Clean Your Tools and Containers
You want to make sure that any tools or containers you use are free of any disease and pests. This is especially the case if you’ve used them outdoors. It’s very easy to bring in harmful material and expose your new plants to it.
Usually, a mixture of soapy water is enough to properly clean your gardening supplies. I like to give all my material a quick clean at the beginning of the season. This provides a sterile environment for my new plants, and reduces the risk of disease and pests making their way into my home.
4. Use Proper Soil
Garden soil and potting soil are different, and trying to force garden soil into a container is a recipe for disaster. Potting soil is much looser than normal garden soil, and this helps water drain easier.
You can tell the difference by picking up a bag of each. The potting soil is going to be much lighter, and feel less compact than outdoor garden soil. This makes it ideal for indoor growing as it will help with your plant’s growth and prevent too much water from sitting in the soil. Prolonged soil moisture in gardening containers is dangerous for your plants and can lead to root rot which is often fatal.
You also want to consider that different plants have differing needs for soil. Cacti and succulents, for example, have their own special soil that is faster draining than potting soil. Using this type of soil mix is going to make growing them much easier.
Other plants also have options that, while not entirely necessary, can help provide a better growing environment. There are specific mixes for citrus trees, fruits, and herbs that are worth looking into.
5. Be Wary of Overwatering
Everyone knows that not enough water can kill your plant, but what many don’t know is that the reverse is also true. Too much water can also be fatal for your plant.
Too much standing water, as mentioned above, can lead to a fungal disease called root rot. This is very much as it sounds, and will rot the roots of your plant and turn them into a mushy mess. This will make them unable to gather nutrients from the soil, which will in turn quickly kill your plant.
The best way to prevent this is to make sure that you’re watering the correct amount. For most plants, you’ll want to feel the top few inches of the soil, and only water when it’s dry. That way, you can be sure that there isn’t already a ton of moisture still in the soil.
Another factor is making sure that you have the proper soil in your container. As mentioned above, potting soil should be used for container gardens and never outdoor topsoil. Certain plants like succulents also need special soil that is even more well draining than that.
Lastly, you should always ensure that your containers have proper drainage. This usually takes the form of holes in the container that allow excess water to drain out. You can also help with this by adding pebbles to the bottom of the container to give water a place to drain that isn’t in contact with the plant’s roots.
6. Keep and Eye Out For Pests
Even indoors, pests can be an issue that you should watch for. This is especially the case if you leave your plants outdoors at all, on a balcony during the day for example.
Common signs of pests include holes in the leaves, discoloration, slowed growth, or dying/weak leaves. You should also look for the bugs themselves, be sure to turn over the leaves as many will thrive on the undersides out of view.
The best way to deal with pests is to catch them before they become a large problem. That’s why you should be giving your plants a spot check every few days. If you can spot them before the infestation grows too large it is usually much easier to deal with them.
Depending on the size of the problem, you have several options for dealing with them. For small infestations, you can simply remove the parts of the plant that are infected. This is a good option if the pests are isolated to a small part of the plant.
For larger infestations, you may need to take more active measures. We have a whole article about natural pest control techniques that are safe to use on your plants.
7. Regularly Check Your Plants
As mentioned above, you should be regularly checking your plants. This is a good way to catch pests before they become a problem, but also a myriad of the other common plant issues.
You should be on the lookout for any changes in growth, or any signs of stress on your plant. Things like leaning, discoloration, or a general weak look are sure signs that something isn’t quite right.
The key is that, in most cases, these are fixable issues, and generally the sooner you catch them the better. Once you notice something, you’ll be able to research the cause and fix it.
That’s why we recommend checking over your plants every few days just to be sure nothing has changed. The longer you wait, the worse the issue becomes, and the more likely it is to cause permanent damage.
8. Prepare For Winter
While indoor gardens are shielded from the worst of winter weather, there are still some things you should be doing to prepare your plants for winter. This preparation helps ensure that your plants are protected, and ultimately helps them come back stronger when spring arrives.
The first thing to keep in mind is the decreased intensity of sunlight. Winter naturally has less intense sunlight, and this can be problematic for light hungry plants. Make sure you either move your plants to a sunnier location, or supplement with grow lights if needed.
You also need to be wary of drier winter air, especially near heat registers. This overly dry air can be harmful, especially to plants that enjoy higher humidity levels.
Lastly, watch out for drafty windows or poorly insulated rooms. This can end up exposing your plants to drastic temperature changes and lower air temperatures than you might expect indoors. This can be damaging to your plant depending on the variety.
9. Repot for Fresh Soil
Over time your soil will lose nutrients, become more compact, and will eventually run out of room for fast growing plants. This is not ideal, and will eventually strangle the roots and prevent them from getting proper nutrients. While you can fertilize to replenish nutrients, that can only do so much; you will eventually need to repot.
How often you need to re-pot depends largely on how fast your plant is growing. For fast young, fast growing plants you’ll need to do so more frequently. This can be as often as every 1-2 years, depending on the starting size of your container. Once you see the roots begin to reach out of your container’s drainage holes that’s a sure sign that it’s past the time to re-pot.
For plants that aren’t actively growing, you won’t need to do so as often. Many larger plants can go 3-4 years between repotting. This helps provide fresh soil, breaks up the roots, and supplies new nutrients for your plant.
10. Prune and Harvest Appropriately
Our last tip is to make sure that you’re harvesting and pruning back your plants appropriately. This is an important step as proper pruning helps encourage future growth.
Many people are nervous to prune their plants, but it’s actually very good for them. You should start by removing any dead or dying bits of the plant. Even a healthy plant will have parts die off from time to time, so this is completely normal. These parts are easier for pests and disease to attack, so it’s best to remove them.
Outside of that, you should also be actively pruning back the plant as it grows. By cutting it back, you give the plant more room to grow, and it will often come back stronger afterwards. This also includes harvesting, even if you don’t plan on using your harvested crops right away it’s a good idea to do so at the appropriate time. This gives you plant back energy as many will continue to invest it into the crops if not harvested.