5 indoor growing mistakes

Plants make our day, they keep us busy and, furthermore, as time goes by we gain experience in their cultivation. However, it is undoubtedly very interesting to have some inside the house, since they will help us to give more life to the house.

However, it is common for several indoor growing mistakes to be made , especially at the beginning when we have just started as gardeners. Let’s know what they are and how to avoid them.

Keeping plants in the same pots for years

The anthurium must be transplanted from time to time

Or what comes to be the same: do not transplant them. When we see them in the nursery, so well cared for, we want them to stay that way at home too, which is logical. But when we wish that, we sometimes forget that in order for this to be the case, one of the tasks we have to do – and also, as soon as possible – is to plant them in larger pots. Why?

The answer is the following: by the development of the roots. The plants that are sold are generally well rooted, which means that they have been growing in the same container for quite some time (months, maybe years). The roots grow, and in doing so they absorb the nutrients from the substrate, so that the lack of space is added to the wear of the earth itself .

How do you know if they need a transplant, and what is the best time to do this work?

Basically, you will know that your plant needs a pot change if:

  • roots grow out of drainage holes,
  • has taken up the whole pot,
  • you haven’t noticed growth for a long time,
  • and / or has been in the same container for more than 5 years (this is only valid for plants of a certain size, such as trees, shrubs and palm trees).

The ideal time to transplant it is in spring , before it resumes its growth. More or less, this is when the minimum temperature begins to exceed 10-15ºC.

Plant them in pots without holes or with a plate underneath

Pots without holes are not recommended for most plants

I admit that I love pots without holes, but growing plants in them is a mistake to avoid, unless they are aquatic. For the rest, having constant contact with water ends up drowning them , so they must be grown in pots with holes in the base, which will serve as a drain. Therefore, it is not a good idea to put a plate under them, unless we always remember to remove the water after each irrigation.

What plants can live in pots without holes?

  • Water chestnut : it is a floating herbaceous plant that reaches a diameter of 23 centimeters, so it must be grown in pots without holes of about 25 centimeters in diameter. It adapts to living in bright places. 
  • Aquatic fern : it is a small herbaceous plant perfect to have as a floating plant in pots of about 20 centimeters in diameter or larger. You will live well in bright rooms.
  • Water lily : it is a rhizomatous plant that reaches a height between 0.5 and one meter. It requires light, and pots of at least 20 centimeters in diameter.
  • Aquatic pita : it is a plant that grows either submerged or floating. It reaches a diameter of 30 centimeters, so the pot should measure about 35 centimeters in diameter. Put it in a room with light.
  • Pontederia : it is a herbaceous plant that reaches a height of 75 centimeters. You can grow it in bright rooms without direct sun.
  • Utricularia : it is a genus of carnivorous plants that can be grown in aquariums, ponds, and in pots without holes as long as the water is rain or distilled. Grow in bright rooms. 

Not knowing the adult size of the plants

There are plants that are grown a lot indoors, but they shouldn't

The areca palm ( Dypsis lutescens ) is widely grown indoors, but it is a palm that exceeds 4 meters in height. // Image – Wikimedia / Alejandro Bayer Tamayo from Armenia, Colombia

Plants grow, some more than others . That is why it must be taken into account that it is not feasible to keep, for example, a Ficus in a pot throughout its life, since they are a genus of trees that need a lot of space, and can reach heights of more than 7 meters, and which, as if that were not enough, have a very powerful root system.Even palm trees that are most cultivated indoors, such as kentia ( Howea forsteriana ), areca ( Dypsis lutescens ) or the parlor palm ( Chamaedorea elegans ) can reach to the ceiling after a few years.

In order to truly enjoy indoor plants, it is very important to be interested in the size they will acquire once they reach adulthood (because yes, the plants that are usually sold are young or moderately young; except for those that are consider seasonal or flowering plants, such as geraniums, carnations or petunias, among many others).

List of ideal plants to grow at home

Here we leave you a list of those that are rather small, that will not give you problems:ApidistraTape // Image – Wikimedia / MokkieSpatiphyllum
PotosSansevieraTillandsia

  • Aspidistra : it is a herbaceous plant that reaches a height of about 50 centimeters, and lives well in bright rooms without direct sun. 
  • Cinta : it is a herbaceous plant that grows up to 20 centimeters, perfect to have in hanging pots. Locate in bright interiors without direct light.
  • Spatifilo : it is a perennial herbaceous plant that reaches a maximum height of 65 centimeters. It requires light, but not direct.
  • Poto : it is an evergreen climber that can reach 20 meters, but it resists pruning so well that it is one of the few that you can enjoy at home forever. Of course, put it in a bright room so that it grows well. 
  • Sanseviera : it is a herbaceous plant with somewhat fleshy leaves that reaches a height of about 20-50 centimeters depending on the variety. It requires light, although not direct, so we recommend placing it in rooms where there is a lot of light.
  • Tillandsia : it is a bromeliad that does not exceed 30 centimeters. It needs light, but not direct.

Water too often, or too little

Watering is important to keep plants healthy

The fact of having plants at home makes us see them every day, and therefore we are quite aware. And that’s fine … as long as we don’t pamper them too much. It’s okay to inspect your leaves for pests, what’s more, that’s something that is advisable to do from time to time, but you only have to water them when necessary.

One of the most common mistakes, if not the most common, is the one made with watering, or rather, with the frequency of watering. If you suspect that your plants are having problems as a result, you should know that the symptoms are :

  • Overwatering : the lower leaves turn yellow and the young ones brown, the roots rot, growth stops, and greenish may appear in the substrate. 
  • Lack of watering : the plant looks sad with drooping stems, young leaves turn yellow, although over time they all become dry and may even curl. Also, the flowers fall.

How to recover a dry plant or with excess water?

If you suspect that your plant is having a hard time as a result of poor watering, do the following:

  • Dry plant : if you have been thirsty, take the pot – without removing the plant from it – and put it in a basin of water for about 30 minutes. Then, take it out and cut off the parts that are dead. From there, water when you see the soil dry out again.
  • Plant with excess water : to recover it, remove it from the pot and wrap the soil bread with absorbent paper in a double layer (or more) and leave it like that for a day. After that time, re-plant it in a pot, but this time new, and cut off the parts that are ugly. Then, sprinkle copper, sulfur or cinnamon powder on the substrate to prevent fungus, and do not water for a few days.

When to water indoor plants?

In principle, they should be watered an average of 2-3 times a week in summer and somewhat less the rest of the year . It is important that the soil dries out a bit before re-moistening it, as this prevents the plants from becoming too vulnerable to fungi. For this reason, if in doubt, check the humidity of the substrate, either with a thin wooden stick or by weighing the pot once it has been watered and again after a few days.

If you have a plate underneath it, remove any excess water after each watering, otherwise the roots will rot. For this same reason, it is not a good idea to grow your plants in pots without drainage holes.

Spray / mist your leaves frequently

Don't spray the plants frequently

The last most common mistake is to spray / spray your leaves frequently. Although it is true that they can absorb water directly from their pores, and that plants considered as indoor plants usually require high ambient humidity to be able to grow in conditions, it is also true that excess humidity rots them quickly .

Therefore, before we start spraying daily, we must first know what percentage of humidity is in the house, something that we will know for example with a domestic weather station . Now, if we live on an island or near the coast, we can be sure that the humidity percentage is high, so it will not be necessary to spray the leaves of the plants that we have at home.

When to spray the leaves and with what?

It is only advisable to spray the leaves if that plant in question is native to a jungle or rainforest, and the humidity at home is very low . For example, plants that should NOT be sprayed are succulents (cacti and succulents). In any case, rainwater, suitable for human consumption or distilled, should be used.

However, instead of using the typical plastic sprayer / sprayer, it is better to get a humidifier or, at least, put glasses or pots without holes with water around the plant. This reduces the risk of rotting.

We hope this article has been useful to you 🙂.

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