Plant Care - A Most Satisfying Hobby
Plants add beauty and personality
Plants add more than beauty and personality to your garden and to your homes - they can actually make you and your home healthier! It is a well -known fact that plants put you in a positive frame of mind and are the best stress busters .When you are stressed and worried, instead of popping a pill ,all that you need to do is to spend some time with your plants and you will notice the difference in your mood within a few minutes .
Secondly, many, if not most of the materials used to build our homes and offices are loaded with chemicals that are known to cause a variety of health problems in people, including terminal diseases like cancer, and house plants are known to offset these toxic effects. So the more number of plants are there around you the better for the atmosphere and for the health of your family. Luckily one need not have a degree in horticulture to either grow or keep healthy, thriving plants in one's garden and home.
Some of the houseplants that have been proved most effective at filtering toxins are also among the easiest ones to grow. With a little care in selecting the right variety of plant one can easily have an attractive collection in one's indoor garden and a healthy home. Outdoor gardening is much easier while compared to indoor gardening because plants grow well as long as they have plenty of sunshine and water. In fact some of the outdoor plants are so hardy that they grow even when neglected , taking nature's help .But indoor plants require some special care to thrive !
Plants that do Equally well within our home
It s worth knowing that not all plants that grow well outdoors grow as well when they are brought indoors. Some , however do better indoors so it is easy to grow and care for these plants
. Some of them I have listed below. They are easy to introduce into one’s home and once settled in they grow without needing too much attention.
1, Snake Plant- This is also called Mother In Law's Tongue (biological name is Sansevieria Trifasciata). They are probably the most well known and easiest to grow both outdoors and indoors because they adapt very easily to changed atmosphere and are very hardy. They also can multiply very fast through stem and leaves.
2, Spider Plant- It is also Called Airplane Plant (Chlorophytum Comosum), Heart Leaf Philodendron (Philodendron SP) With their light and dark green shaded leaves these are very attractive plants and I have had some of them growing indoors for more than 2 -3 years. The only requirement is a bit of fresh air and sunlight . So, it is better to keep the plant close to a window or on a window sill or even better to hang them since they do well when they are free to grow without any restrictions.
3, Peace lily (Spathiphyllum hybrid) – The long stemmed white flowers make Peace lily a very attractive plant to grow both in your garden and inside your home. They multiply very quickly and before you know, you have a tub full of plants that flowers abundantly almost all through the year
4, Swedish ivy (Plectranthus Australis) – this is a very popular houseplant that is a trailer and ideally it should be grown in hanging baskets. It comes in bright green, speckled green and green and white colors and is very attractive. They can also be grown in the garden as fillers because they spread very fast covering the entire area making a green carpet of lush beauty.
5,Emerald ripple Peperomia (Peperomia caperata) – This is one of my favorite houseplants and this grows well both outdoors and indoors. The leaves are serrated and come in many bright colors and are eye catching and beautiful to look at. The plant is relatively easy to grow, all that it requires a well -mixed soil, slightly porous so that water drains out easily. It is also easy to multiply them using a small clump of the plant and planting it separately in sand and soil and later once it begins to show signs of growth you can add fertiliser and top up the soil.
6, Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema) - This another hugely popular houseplant as well as an ornamental plant that grows well in pots as well as in gardens. These too are attractive and need very little care and are very hardy plants . One can make a new plant using a small piece of its stem. Once it is placed in a mixture of sand and soil it begins to sprout new shoots and leaves within a matter of days . They come in various shapes , colors and varieties . They are probably one of the most well- known house and garden plants.
7, African violets (Saintpaulias ) - African violets are probably the most attractive of them all because of their vibrantly colored flowers which stand out anywhere. They are very ornamental within a house and they need more care than the rest of the plants since they are very sensitive to changing weather. They grow well within your home where there is light and fresh air . Watering should be done sparingly since the stem tends to rot and disintegrate when there is too much water in the soil . The bright and very attractive flowers come in many shades of blue, pink , purple and white splashing colors all around them.
8, Cactii – Most cactus plants require very little care and water but there are some Cactii , which are not easy to grow especially some of the most complex looking specimens that need a lot of care and attention. But they do enhance any garden space and one’s home. When you have small children at home you need to take extra care while placing them indoors so that they are kept out of reach.
There are many more plants that grow well both outdoors and indoors like Dracaena , several varieties of palms .They tend to have a robust growth outdoors .The indoor plants need to be kept out for a few days from time to time so that all their needs get fulfilled. I have had no difficulty in growing any of these plants that I have mentioned above. In fact it has been a pleasure watching them grow into healthy specimens with little care on my part and when they respond to your care it makes your efforts worthwhile.
A few tips that I have found helpful in growing these plants
1, Selecting the right spot for your plants – This in my experience is crucial for any plant whether you plan to grow it outdoors or keep them indoors. When it is a question of indoor plants , you may need to experiment a bit, try keeping a plant in a brightly lit part of your room and wait for a month , if the plant grows signs of healthy growth , one can safely leave it there, or else change the position. I have had to this quite a few times with some of the plants, and this is very important , because, each plant has its own comfort zone, the trick is to find that and settle it down in the proper place after which they tend to adjust to their surrounding and grow well.
2, Taking care while watering - One has to be very careful while watering, plants kept indoors. Both under watering and over watering is bad for plants. One can overwater a plant growing outdoors because water gets drained and absorbed into the soil or if it is in a pot it flows out and gets evaporated in no time, whereas it is different for indoor plants . Ideally one should water when the soil round the plant is just dry but not cracking , which means it is ready for watering . When he soil begins to crack around the edge of the plant, it means that the soil is dry through and through, and when this happens many times the plant gets under watered and eventually the growth becomes stunted.
3, Spraying is essential – Spraying the plants from time to time helps in keeping the pests away and this is true of both outdoor and indoor plants. If there are slugs or any kind of fungus growth on the plants or underside of the leaf one needs to take care immediately and spray it with some pesticide. In fact it is better to do this regularly on a monthly basis.
4, Re-potting- This is a continuous process for potted plants since the nutrients in the soil gets depleted with time and needs to be replenished from time to time. You can either remove the top soil and replace it with well mixed soil, manure and sand once a year and repot the plant after a year . So, one can safely re-pot the plants once in two years, provided you have changed the top soil or else you need to re-pot once a year.
Method for re-potting.. Water the pot thoroughly and wait until the extra water drains out. Loosen the sides of the plant and pull it out gently so that the entire plant comes out neatly. All the old soil should be discarded. Smaller roots and nodules can be trimmed. I normally prepare the potting soil by mixing in one part of sand to three parts of readily available potting soil OR two parts of organic manure prepared at home from vegetable wastes and dry leaves, two parts of garden soil and one part of sand. I have found this to be a very good mix and the plants really thrive in this soil mix.
It may be a good idea to shift indoor plants outdoors during summer for a week or so before re-potting .But this has to be done with a lot of care . However, they need to be kept in a shady place without direct sunlight after they have been re-potted.
5, Grow Native plants - I have found it is easier to grow plants that are native to the area one lives in. Sometimes we find a very attractive plant in a nursery that is new to us and we pay exorbitant prices to buy the plant that is exotic and need specialised care and later feel bad when it fails to grow well or even perish. Instead it makes sense to grow plants that can be easily managed and are known to us and our local nurseries who might be able to help and advice you, if and when the need arises.
There is no other hobby that gives you the kind of complete satisfaction as Gardening does. It has many health benefits like keeping you fit, agile , trim and acts as a stress buster.I enjoy gardening both outdoors and indoors. I feel that plants enhance the look of your entire house and home besides adding warmth and brightness . Like everybody else, I have had my fair share of failures with some plants ,but, I have taken those setbacks as a learning experience and carried on with determination and now I am able to introduce newer plants into my garden and home with more success.
Since gardening is an ongoing process of trials and errors it keeps you interested all through your days, months and years. I see many gardeners across the world keeping a gardening diary where they note down all their gardening adventures and experiences. It makes for an interesting reading .
( Images - wikimedia images and personal)
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