Indoor gardening tips from a Becker County master gardener – Detroit Lakes Tribune

There are many reasons to grow plants indoors, but the only logical reason is simply to enjoy the sight or the smell of them.

You cannot realistically save or make money by growing a plant – edible or not – indoors. Indoor plants do not purify the air or affect the humidity in the house. Indoor plants do not affect oxygen or carbon dioxide levels in the home, and there is no concrete evidence that plants can directly alter a person’s mood – unless the You don’t ingest a specific plant one way or another.
Many people grow plants indoors and have reasonable success, having learned the ropes through trial and error or observation from family and friends. Most people do well enough and don’t need guidance, so I intend to speak to the neophyte – the one who isn’t growing things indoors but wants to get started. First, I would suggest buying plants rather than starting from seeds.

Growing plants indoors can be a relatively painless process, even for those with relatively little experience. (JoAnn Dobis/Becker County Master Gardeners)

What kind? Consider Zamioculcas zamiifolia – the ZZ plant. This is native to East Africa and it is almost impossible not to grow. Many say it’s not pretty, but it’s a plant. A related plant is pothos, or devil’s ivy, which is pretty and grows like trailing ivy. (This variety is mildly toxic, so households with children or cats may be advised to avoid it). Chinese evergreen is easy to grow, as are asparagus fern, spider plants and English ivy. Aloe is also nearly indestructible. There are hundreds of other types of plants that will grow well and easily in your home – ask the person at the store.

Where? All plants need sunlight in varying amounts and the best information about the amount listed on the label that comes with the plant. Near windows is always better, and at this latitude (north of the 45th parallel), one might consider increasing sunlight with electric lights. LED lights have become inexpensive and are available in the specific wavelengths that plants use. If artificial light is used it is imperative to use a timer as the amount of darkness is what sets a plant’s internal clock and if this changes randomly the plant can become ” confused”. Timers should be set to extend afternoon light by 2 or 3 hours each day, starting in mid-November, decreasing in March to zero additional light in late March.

How? ‘Or’ What? Besides sunlight, all plants need water and nutrients, but not as much as you might think. Overwatering is the most common cause of houseplant death (over-fertilizing comes second). Very few plants need water more than once a week, and many don’t need that much. Add water when the soil is dry, not necessarily when the plant appears droopy. If the soil can be compressed into a ball and maintains that shape, there is enough water in the soil. Too little water is better than too much (up to a point).

Most potting soils contain enough nutrients to last for years, and their acid content is adjusted and buffered so that these nutrients can be easily utilized by the plant. For indoor plants, it’s probably best to use commercially available soils, unless you want to have your soil tested for pH and nutrient content. These “potting mixes” drain well, so rocks and debris at the bottom of the pot are unnecessary.

Dead leaves, stems and flowers should be removed as soon as they are seen. Plants should be pruned to control size and shape in the fall. Terracotta pots are the best.

Temperature? If there is ice inside the window closest to the plant, it is probably too cold. Do not place plants between the curtains and the glass. A plant should not be in the way of the air blown by a heater.

It’s time to put your plant in a bigger pot when the exposed dirt is hard to penetrate with your finger, or if the water just sits on top of the soil without soaking into it, or if you can see roots sticking out of the holes drainage at the bottom. If the plant remains healthy and grows well, repotting will be necessary every 12 to 18 months. Spring is the best time to repot.

Pests, problems? Fungus gnats (some call them “fruit flies”) are an indicator of overwatering. Mites are almost unavoidable, it seems – insecticidal soap applied weekly until they are gone is effective for these, as well as aphids. This would be applied (after dilution as explained on the label) with a misting sprayer.

Houseplant diseases such as fungus spot, powdery mildew and root rot can be treated, but sometimes it’s best to just throw the plant out and replace it before the disease spreads to others. plants.

Indoor plants are an effective way to beautify your home; growing them is easy and rewarding, as well as inexpensive. I believe there should be at least one in every room.

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The Becker County Master Gardener Program is operated by the University of Minnesota Extension.