A PLANT’S LIFE – INDOORS!

Indoor plants (or house plants as they are more commonly called) consists of any plant that will grow well in household conditions.  These conditions are generally low to medium humidity, reduced or low light, minimally varying temperatures, container growing, with human intervention such as manual watering.

The main purpose of growing plants indoors is to provide a sense of nature within the home or space.  Green plants also absorb CO2 and release oxygen for a mutually healthier environment.  Plants add a calming and natural decor to indoor space as well. 
Most indoor plants are of tropical or subtropical origin.  These are plants that would not survive most outdoor environments unless related to their native growing conditions.  They range from very large (such as palms) to very small (such as african violets), most of which grow in their natural environments as understory plants to the taller canopy of the tropical forest regions. These conditions are somewhat similar to most household or indoor environments.  

Some good indoor plants – referenced in this article

Watering and fertilizing should be proportional to light levels.  Plants growing in very low light require less frequent watering and nutrient supplement because their growth is inhibited by lower light.  Fertilizer stimulates new growth but without proper levels of light, to aid in photosynthesis, can become toxic to an indoor plant.
Overwatering is the number one cause of death to indoor plants.   As container grown plants in low evaporative conditions, moisture is retained longer and overwatering causes root rot and soil borne diseases.
Many tropical/indoor plants are sensitive to specific or levels of certain chemicals in our city water systems and will react by showing necrosis along edges of the foliage.  Examples include Chlorophytum (spider plant), Rhaphs palm, Dracaena, Spathephyllum and most plants in the Araceae family.  It is always best to use collected rain water or distilled water for indoor plants. An organically rich, well draining soil is preferred by most house plants    A loose organic soil allows more aeration for the confined roots and stimulates healthy root growth.  Cacti and succulents prefer a mineral based very well drained soil.Being isolated from natural predators, indoor plants can become a target for small pests such as spider mites, aphids, white fly, scale, and other sucking type of insects.  Also  the lack of drying from natural sunlight and wind can cause fungi and mildews to infest indoor plants, so water indoor plants from the base. Most insect and disease problems can be solved without use of harmful chemicals.  It is very important to remove all dying and dead leaves and portions of a plant to prevent spread of disease.
Know the plants you are growing around children and pets.  Dieffenbachia, pothos, philodendron, and Euphorbias are examples of frequently used indoor plants that are harmful if chewed on.  
During summer, most house plants enjoy being outdoors in shade and higher humidity and will respond with healthier and fuller growth.  However, NEVER take a plant that has been grown in low light and place it in a much brighter light and vice versa, All plants require a period of gradual acclimation to light changes, perhaps up to a month or more of “light  adjustment therapy”.  
Examples of plants that do well indoors are  Agloenema (Chinese Evergreen),  Draceana,  Dieffenbachia, Philodendron and their Araceae plant family relatives, Sansevieria and other shade tolerant succulents,,  Rhapis palm,  Chamaedora (parlor) palms, Scindapsis (pothos), Gesneriads and the ZZ plant (Zamicaulus zamiafolia).  The horticultural trade had developed, with the exception of palms and ZZ,  so many attractive and different cultivars of these plants to add variety in appearance and color.  These sports or mutations are propagated/cloned asexually.
Many tropical plants are never meant nor will adapt to being indoors.  Examples are the colorful Crotons, Poinsettias at Christmas, Ficus, and most flowering tropicals.  They require and demand higher light and/or humidity levels.   The finicky Ficus will drop it’s leaves when moved to even slightly changed light levels.  So, be aware that plants sold as indoor plants may not be meant to be grown indoors and choose only those proven to adapt to indoor conditions well. 

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