Indoor plants have become increasingly popular in recent years, adding a touch of nature and beauty to our homes. However, growing and maintaining these plants can be a challenging task, especially for beginners. Many of us often make common mistakes when growing indoor plants, that can lead to their demise. In this article, we discuss some of the most common mistakes made by indoor gardeners and provide practical solutions to help you avoid making the same errors. By understanding these mistakes and applying the necessary corrective measures, you can ensure the health and longevity of your indoor plants.
Common Mistakes When Growing Indoor Plants
Indoor plants, also known as houseplants, though often considered low maintenance, still require proper care and attention to thrive. That’s because they are grown in an environment that is controlled by humans. Neglecting these needs can lead to pest infestations and diseases that can be difficult to treat. Here are some of the things you need to watch out for.
1. Overwatering Your Plants
Watering indoor plants can be a tricky task, and many people tend to make common mistakes that can harm their plants. One of the most common mistakes when growing indoor plants is to overwatering them. This can have serious consequences for your indoor plants, so it’s important to understand and learn how to avoid it.
Signs of Overwatering
One of the most common reasons why your houseplants are dying is overwatering . Overwatering can lead to various issues, such as root rot, yellowing leaves, and wilting. It happens when you give your plant too much water than it needs, which leads to root rot and kills the plant. When you overwater your plant, the soil becomes waterlogged, preventing oxygen from reaching the roots. This causes the roots to decay and eventually die.
How to Avoid Overwatering
To avoid overwatering, it is essential to understand the specific water requirements of your plants and adjust your watering schedule accordingly. Generally, most houseplants should be watered once a week. However, this frequency will depend on factors such as the type of plant, its size and age, and the environmental conditions in your home.
Before watering your plants, check the soil moisture level by inserting your finger into the soil. If the top layer is still moist, wait for a few more days before watering.
Additionally, make sure to use pots with drainage holes to allow excess water to escape, preventing waterlogging and root rot.
Also, using a watering can with a narrow spout can also help control the amount of water given to the plant. This will prevent you from pouring too much water on one spot or accidentally getting water on leaves instead of soil.
2. Underwatering Indoor Plants
Yet another one of the common mistakes when growing indoor plants involves waiting too long to water the plants. Underwatering happens when you don’t give enough water to your plant, causing wilting and stunted growth. When a plant doesn’t get enough water, it starts conserving energy by closing its stomata (tiny pores) in its leaves which results in wilting.
How to Avoid Underwatering Indoor Plants
To avoid underwatering your indoor plants, make sure you’re giving them enough moisture regularly without letting them sit in standing water for extended periods of time. As mentioned earlier, check the soil regularly to ensure it’s not too dry.
Finding the Right Watering Schedule
To avoid underwatering, establish a regular watering schedule and check the soil moisture frequently. Set a reminder on your phone to inspect the soil every three days and water your plants as needed.
It’s also important to note that different plants have different watering needs. Some plants prefer moist soil while others like to dry out a bit before being watered again. It depends on factors such as their type, size, and age, as well as the environmental conditions in your home. So, do your research and learn about the specific watering requirements of your indoor plants.
3. Not Using Pots With Drainage Holes
Another one of the most common mistakes when growing indoor plants involves the use of poorly designed pots. While it may seem like a minor detail, this can actually have serious consequences for your houseplants.
What are Drainage Holes?
Drainage holes are small openings in the bottom of a pot that allow excess water to escape, which is important for the health of many plants. When you water your house plants or outdoor plants, the soil absorbs some of the moisture, but any excess water needs somewhere to go. If there are no drainage holes in your pot, the water will simply accumulate at the bottom and create a stagnant pool, which can be harmful to your plants.
The risks of not having drainage holes
Pots without drainage holes can cause several problems for your indoor plants:
Water accumulation: When there’s no way for excess water to escape, it accumulates in the soil and creates a soggy environment that’s perfect for root rot. This condition occurs when roots sit in waterlogged soil for too long.
Mineral buildup: Without proper drainage, salts and minerals from fertilizers build up in the soil over time. These substances become concentrated and toxic to plant roots.
Poor oxygen circulation: Roots need oxygen just as much as they need water and nutrients. A lack of proper drainage means less air circulation around roots which leads to suffocation.
Why do some pots not have drainage holes?
Some decorative or ornamental pots don’t have drainage holes because they’re designed more for aesthetics than functionality. However, these types of pots aren’t suitable for long-term plant growth because they trap moisture inside which causes harm to plants over time.
How to Fix a Pot Without Drainage Holes
If you already have a pot without drainage holes that you want to use, there are ways to modify it so that it becomes more suitable for plant growth. Here are some options:
Drill drainage holes: This is the easiest and most effective solution. Use a drill to create several small holes in the bottom of your pot.
Add a layer of rocks or gravel: If you don’t want to drill holes, you can add a layer of rocks or gravel to the bottom of your pot before adding soil. This creates a space for excess water to collect without drowning roots.
Use a liner: If you’re using an ornamental pot that you don’t want to drill into, use a plastic liner inside the pot with drainage holes.
4. Misinterpreting ‘Low Light’ Conditions
Different houseplants have different light requirements. Some houseplants thrive in areas with indirect sunlight, while others require artificial light sources to survive. Understanding your houseplant’s light needs is crucial for its growth and health.
What is Low Light?
Low light houseplants are those that can survive in areas with indirect sunlight. These houseplants have adapted to grow in the understory of forests where they receive little direct sunlight. Examples of low light houseplants include snake plants, philodendrons, and peace lilies.
One of the common mistakes many indoor gardeners make is equate ‘low light’ with ‘no light,’ placing their plants in areas with insufficient light for proper growth.
What are No Light Plants?
No light houseplants are those that require artificial light sources to thrive. These are typically tropical rainforest species that grow under dense tree canopies and receive very little natural sunlight. Examples of no-light houseplants include ferns, mosses, and orchids.
If you want to grow houseplants indoors, you will need to provide them with an artificial lighting system that mimics the conditions found in their natural habitat. This means using specialized grow lights such as high-intensity discharge (HID) lamps or full-spectrum LED bulbs.
When setting up your lighting system for houseplants that require no light, it is important to consider factors such as the intensity and duration of the light source. Different types of houseplants have different requirements so be sure to research your specific plant’s needs before setting up your lighting system.
How To Ensure Your Indoor Plants Get Enough Light
To ensure that your houseplants receive enough light, it’s important to place them in a location where they can get adequate sunlight or artificial light. Here are some tips to help you provide the right amount of light for your indoor plants:
Place your houseplants near a window that receives bright, indirect sunlight.
Use artificial lighting if natural sunlight is not available or if your houseplants need more light than they can get from a window.
Rotate your houseplants regularly to ensure that all sides receive equal amounts of light.
Keep an eye on your houseplants and adjust their lighting as needed. If you notice signs of overexposure or underexposure, move the houseplant to a different location or adjust the lighting accordingly.
5. Exposing Plants to Harsh Direct Sunlight
The Risks of Direct Sunlight
While most houseplants need sunlight to grow and thrive, exposing them to harsh direct sunlight, especially during midday, can cause serious damage. Many houseplants originate from tropical forests, where they are accustomed to dappled shade. Direct sunlight can result in burned and discolored leaves, negatively affecting the plant’s overall health and appearance.
Proper Sunlight Exposure
To protect your plants from the harmful effects of direct sunlight, provide them with gentle, early morning sun for no more than two hours. If you live in a region with intense summers or are unsure about the light intensity, it is best to keep your plants out of direct sunlight altogether.
6. Ignoring Humidity Levels
Humidity levels in rooms can affect the health of indoor plants, including cacti, because most houseplants come from tropical environments where humidity is high. Therefore, it’s important to monitor and adjust humidity levels as needed by using a humidifier or misting your plants regularly. Additionally, ensuring your cacti are planted in suitable garden soil can also contribute to their overall health.
7. Using Garden Soil for Indoor Plants
Why Garden Soil is Not Suitable for Indoor Plants
Using garden soil for your indoor plants can lead to numerous issues, such as poor drainage, pests, and diseases. Garden soil often retains too much moisture, leading to waterlogged conditions and root rot in container-grown plants. Additionally, garden soil can harbor harmful pathogens and pests that can infect and damage your indoor plants.
Using Dry Soil During Repotting
Another common mistake during repotting is using dry soil instead of moist soil. Dry soil can harm your plant species as it lacks moisture which is essential for proper root development and overall growth.
Before repotting, ensure that you water your plant at least 24 hours prior so that the roots have enough moisture content during transplantation.
Choosing the Right Soil Mix
To ensure the health and growth of your indoor plants, use a specialized houseplant potting mix that provides adequate drainage and nutrients. Avoid using garden soil or regular potting soil, which may retain too much moisture for indoor plants. You can also create your own potting mix by combining two parts potting soil, one part perlite, and one part coconut coir or peat moss.
8. Repotting Your Plants Too Soon
Repotting your plants too soon is another one of the common mistakes made when growing indoor plants. Repotting your plants too soon or too frequently can cause unnecessary stress and hinder their growth. Repotting should only be done when absolutely necessary, such as when the roots have outgrown the current pot or when the plant shows signs of wilting and stunted growth.
Proper Repotting Techniques
When it’s time to repot your plants, choose a pot that is one to two sizes larger than the current one and use a suitable potting mix. Be gentle with the roots during the repotting process and return the plant to its original location as soon as possible to minimize shock.
9. Changing Locations Too Often
Indoor plants require stable conditions to thrive. Moving them around too often can cause stress and shock to the plant system. When you change locations too often, your plant will need time to adjust to its new environment before it can resume normal growth.
It is important to let your indoor plants settle in one spot for a long time before considering a change in location. This allows the roots of the plant species enough time to establish themselves properly in their current environment.
10.Overfertilizing Your Plants
The Dangers of Overfertilization
Overfertilizing your plants can lead to a buildup of salts in the soil, which can cause leaf burn and negatively affect plant growth. Overfertilization can also exacerbate existing issues or create new problems, such as nutrient imbalances and root damage.
Proper Fertilization Practices
To prevent overfertilization, always follow the instructions on the fertilizer packaging and apply the fertilizer at the recommended rate. If your plants are already growing well, consider applying fertilizer at half strength to avoid potential issues. Remember to adjust your fertilization practices based on the specific needs of your plants and their growth stage.
11. Not Checking the Roots
As a plant parent, you want your indoor plants to thrive and flourish. But did you know that one of the most crucial steps in caring for them is checking their roots? Yet another one of the common plant mistakes made is neglecting this step. This can lead to root rot, a common problem that can be easily prevented by inspecting the roots regularly.
Why Checking the Roots is Important
Roots play an essential role in the growth and development of plants. They absorb water and nutrients from the soil, provide anchorage, and store food reserves. When roots are healthy, they support strong stems and leaves, which leads to healthy growth overall.
However, when roots are damaged or diseased, they cannot perform these functions effectively. This can result in stunted growth, yellowing leaves, wilting, or even death of the plant. Therefore, it’s crucial to check your indoor plant’s roots regularly to ensure they are healthy.
Signs of Root Damage or Disease
So how do you know if your indoor plant’s roots are healthy? Here are some signs to look out for:
- Wilting or drooping leaves
- Yellowing or browning leaves
- Stunted growth
- Foul odor coming from soil
- Mushy or slimy roots
- Brown or black discoloration on roots
- If you notice any of these signs, it’s time to inspect your plant’s roots more closely.
How to Check Your Plant’s Roots
Checking your indoor plant’s roots is easy and straightforward. Here are some steps you can follow:
- Gently remove your plant from its pot.
- Shake off excess soil from the root ball.
- Inspect the top layer of soil around the base of the stem for any signs of damage or disease as part of your indoor plant care routine.
- Look at the color and texture of the roots – they should be firm and white or light brown.
- Check for any mushy, slimy, or discolored roots.
- Trim off any damaged or diseased roots with clean scissors or pruning shears.
- Repot your plant in fresh soil and a clean pot.
12. Neglecting to Clean Your Plants’ Leaves
The Importance of Clean Leaves
Dust and debris can accumulate on your plants’ leaves, obstructing their ability to photosynthesize and hindering their growth. Regularly cleaning your plants’ leaves can improve their overall appearance and health, ensuring they receive the necessary light for photosynthesis.
How to Clean Your Plants’ Leaves
Cleaning indoor plant leaves once a week is a simple process that can keep your plants healthy and looking great. Here’s how to do it:
Step 1: Take your indoor plant outside
Take your indoor plant outside or place it in a sink or bathtub where you can easily clean its leaves without making a mess.
Step 2: Wipe away dust from each leaf
Use a soft cloth or sponge dipped in lukewarm water to wipe away any dust from each leaf. Be gentle and avoid rubbing too hard as this can damage delicate leaves.
Step 3: Use a Plant Spray
To keep your indoor plant leaves clean for longer periods, use a good Indoor Plant Spray. It is specially formulated to remove dust and other debris from indoor plant leaves without harming them.
Simply spray the solution onto each leaf until it is wet but not dripping. Then use a soft cloth or sponge to wipe away any remaining dirt or dust.
Repeat this process once a week to keep your indoor plants healthy and looking their best.
13. Ignoring the Unique Needs of Your Plants
Understanding Your Plants’ Requirements
Each plant species has its unique set of requirements, which means that a one-size-fits-all approach to plant care is not always effective. It is essential to research and understand the specific needs of your plants, such as their light, water, and nutrient requirements, to ensure their health and growth.
Tailoring Your Plant Care Routine
By tailoring your plant care routine to the unique needs of your plants, you can avoid common mistakes when growing indoor plants and promote optimal growth and health. Be sure to adjust your care practices based on factors such as your plants’ species, age, and size, as well as the environmental conditions in your home.
14. Overly Fussing Over Your Plants
Yep! Although hard to believe over-fussing is also one of the common mistakes we tend to make when taking care of indoor plants.
The Risks of Overcare
Although it may be tempting to constantly check on and care for your plants, excessive attention can often do more harm than good. Overcare can lead to issues such as overwatering, overfertilizing, and unnecessary stress for your plants.
Practicing Balanced Plant Care
To promote the health and well-being of your indoor plants, it is essential to strike a balance between attentive care and neglect. Provide your plants with the necessary care and attention, but also allow them the space and time to grow and thrive on their own.
So, how do you keep your indoor plants happy?
By understanding and avoiding these common mistakes when growing indoor plants, you can significantly improve the health and longevity of your indoor plants. Remember to research and tailor your plant care practices to the unique needs of your plants and be mindful of their environmental requirements. With proper care and maintenance, your indoor plants will flourish and bring life and beauty to your home for years to come.