Top Tips for Indoor Growing
9 easy tips to help you brighten your home with beautiful plants
Indoor gardens don’t have to be big to yield huge rewards. A potted plant by the sofa can add character to a room and do a little air purifying on the side. A small container of rosemary can season many family suppers, from winter soups to summer grills. And what brightens a mood faster than a pot of cheery flowers on the windowsill? Happily, growing indoors is easy. Just follow these simple tips.
Choose the Best Plants
Check out these excellent choices for indoor growing—and if you’re planning to grow greens or herbs, skip the seeds and get a strong start with young plants from Bonnie Plants®!
Light It Up
Light is probably the most important thing when it comes to growing plants indoors. For herbs, leafy greens, and many succulents, the kind of bright light you get from a south-facing window is best. A north-facing window offers the least sunlight, so it will only work for plants that like shady conditions—think jade plant, pothos, and Chinese evergreen. An east or west window will tend to get moderate sunlight, which should work for most houseplants, including African violets, Boston ferns, and spider plants. Of course, if you use a high-intensity grow light, you can grow most plants just about anywhere.
Beat Bugs With Good Soil
One of the most common pest problems with houseplants is fungus gnats, as they love to hide in the soil. One way to reduce the chance that you’ll have to deal with these pests is to plant your indoor garden in Miracle-Gro® Indoor Potting Mix, which doesn’t contain any bark or compost, both of which are known to shelter fungus gnats. Instead, it contains coir, which not only holds and releases water as it’s needed, but also helps the soil easily re-wet. This potting mix also gives indoor plants a nutritious jump-start, thanks to the plant food it contains.
Be a Water Whisperer
Watering may seem like the trickiest part of indoor growing, but it doesn’t have to be. A good rule of thumb for most plants is not to water unless the top inch of soil is dry to the touch. How can you tell? Shove your finger into soil up to the first knuckle. If it’s dry, it’s time to water. Plants may show other signs when they’re thirsty, too, including dull leaf color and wilting leaves.
The time of year can also affect how much water plants need. When plants grow fast during spring and summer (thanks to lots of sunlight), they need to be watered more often. In winter, growth usually slows, so they need less water. Also, be sure to check the plant tag to see if your indoor plants like soil on the dry side (think succulents or cacti) or moist (like croton plants and herbs).
Speaking of water, another great option for indoor growing is hydroponics. We know, we know, the name makes it sound complicated. But it’s not! Hydroponics simply means growing plants in water or in a soil-less media (think coconut fiber, clay pebbles, or perlite) with water added. Here’s the key: Because there’s no soil, the nutrients you add to the water go straight to the plants’ roots, so they grow fuller and faster than they would in traditional gardening. You can purchase a hydroponic system or make your own—your choice. Our advice? Try the Miracle-Gro® Twelve™ Indoor Growing System. It's not only a cinch to set up and maintain, but it doubles as a sleek, modern-looking end table (the growing system is on the bottom, with the grow light on the underside of the table) that's sure to become the focal point of the room.
Don’t Forget to Feed
In addition to great soil, plants in traditional pots need regular helpings of plant food for superb growth and color. A month after planting, begin feeding them every week in the simplest way possible: with Miracle-Gro® Indoor Plant Food. With no mixing or measuring on your part (just pump it right onto the soil or into the watering can), this is like nutritious fast food for plants, providing an instant meal that keeps indoor gardens growing and thriving.
Get the Temp Right
Protect plants from drafts—hot or cold. In winter, keep plants away from frigid windows, open doors, and sweltering heaters. In general, if you’re warm enough, your plants are, too. It’s also a good idea to keep plants away from central heating or air conditioning vents. You know a plant is too close if leaves blow when the furnace or a.c. kicks on.
Coax Even More Growth
With indoor herbs, harvest often to prevent stems from getting leggy and flopping over. Plus, picking encourages herbs to branch and become bushy, especially basil, mint, and thyme. Many houseplants, such as ivy, philodendrons, and croton plants, will also become fuller when you pinch off the growing tip. We know it sounds crazy, removing growth to get more growth, but it works! And of course, if your plant starts to get too big for its pot (you’ll know because you’ll start to see roots coming through the drainage holes), move it to a roomier home.
Grow More Green Pals
Populate your house with gorgeous greenery by taking cuttings from your favorite existing houseplants and turning them into baby plants (a process called “propagating”) that will grow into full-sized adults. Here’s how to do it:
1. Take a 4- to 6-inch cutting from your beloved houseplant.
2. Dip the cut end into Miracle-Gro® Fast Root1® Dry Powder Rooting Hormone, making sure to follow the directions on the label.
3. Stick the end immediately into a small pot filled with moistened Miracle-Gro® Indoor Potting Mix.
4. Give your little green baby the same light, temperature, and moisture conditions as its parent.
5. Enjoy the newest member of your plant family!
No matter which kinds of plants you choose to grow indoors, you can be sure of one thing: They’ll add a spark of joy and beauty to your home, even when it’s all cold, gray, and dreary outside. What are you waiting for?