Indoor plants should be an essential component of every interior design. Greenery brightens up indoor spaces and are known to have mood-boosting qualities.


Indoor plants are popular because they are relatively easy to take care of, provide health benefits and can be used in a variety of indoor décor themes. Indoor plants are a great option for those who have little yard space for an outdoor garden or for those who live in climates with severely cold winters.


So, if you’re caring for indoor plants for the first time, our ultimate guide will provide you with the necessary information to allow your green friends to thrive.


To provide you with expert insight, we asked our Senior Horticulturist at Ambius, Matt Kostelnick, to answer the most frequently asked questions about indoor plants.


What are indoor plants?

Indoor plants are plants that grow indoors. There are a variety of tropical plants, like palms, that thrive in indoor environments.

 

How do you plant indoor plants?

Most of the time, indoor plants are already in containers, so there is no need to plant them. There are typically only two reasons you need to plant an indoor plant.

  1. If your plant is getting too big, then you will need to replant it into a larger container.

  2. If you wanted to grow bulbs indoors, then you will need to plant the bulbs yourself.

How much light do indoor plants need?

Succulents and cacti need continuous, daily sunlight. Plants with foliage need roughly 8 hours of light per day. The amount of light depends on the plants you are growing, so we suggest doing research on the specific plants you are growing.


What qualities make for a good indoor plant?

There are several qualities to look for when selecting an indoor plant.

  1. A good root system – This is incredibly important when choosing a plant. It’s not practical to pull a plant out of its pot to check its roots but if it is a small plant, this can be done. Healthy roots are thick and light in color.
  2. Foliage- Here’s a good rule of thumb when it comes to plant’s foliage: if you can’t see through it, the foliage is thick enough.
  3. Check for disease – Some signs of a plant with pests or disease are: white dots, sticky residue on the leaves and a bad odor.

Which indoor plants require low light?

Indoor plants that need little light could be good fits for locations where light is more dim. Some plants that require low light are:

  • Philodendron – A very common indoor plant that rarely attracts pests. It’s a hearty plant that is adaptable to various environments
  • Pothos or Devil’s Ivy- A plant with colorful and vibrant leaves. This plant does great in a variety of environments, thriving in low light or in bright, indirect light.
  • Dracaena– This is another popular indoor plant with long green leaves. This is one indoor plant you will want to prune if foliage gets too long.
  • Peace Lily- This plant thrives best when the soil is moist, but not overwatered. If you want flowers to appear on your peace lily plant, move your plant to a darker room.

Which indoor plants are the easiest to take care of?

Below is a list of indoor plants that are easy to take care of:

  • Sansevieria
  • Philodendron
  • Most succulents
  • Pothos
  • ZZ plant

Which plants are considered indoor plants?

Plants that require a low amount of light and water to thrive are typically known as indoor plants. Ambius considers these plants as examples of common indoor plants:

  • Dracaena
  • Hedera Helix
  • Sansevieria Zeylanica Superba
  • Scindapsus

What are examples of some common indoor plants?

More examples of common indoor plants include the following:

  • Aglaonema
  • Dracaena
  • Ferns
  • Philodendrons
  • Palms
  • Pothos
  • Spathiphyllum
  • Succulents

What are the best indoor plants?

Good indoor plants will tolerate lower light and humidity. Also, they will be less likely to deal with pests. Plus, they usually do not grow too much (you wouldn’t want an indoor plant to grow at a rapid rate). The best indoor plants include the following:

  • Aglaonema – It is attractive, tolerates low light, and does not grow too quickly.
  • Aspidistra – You should not need to give it a lot of water and it will handle low light. If you’d like to take a vacation and don’t want to be concerned about your plant, aspidistra a great one for you.
  • Succulents – Make sure you give them bright light.
  • Dracaenas
  • Philodendrons

How do you re-pot indoor plants?

Unless your indoor plant has become too large for the pot it is in, you typically don’t need to re-pot indoor plants. For steps and tips on how to properly re-pot plants, check out our blog on re-potting plants.

How do you care for indoor plants?

Here are some tips that will help you care for indoor plants:

  • Keep potting soil moist- It’s important to make sure soil is not too wet nor too dry
  • Make sure the plant pot has drainage holes in the bottom of the pot
  • Place your plant near a light source, whether it’s natural or artificial
  • Determine what species of plant you have so you can more accurately care for it 

How do you prune indoor plants?

If you have no reason to prune plants, don’t do it. But, if you notice your plant getting tally and spindly, then we recommend you prune them.

What are some of the common reasons indoor plants die?

Some of the most common reasons plants die are:

  • Overwatering or underwatering
  • Light Levels (either not enough light or too much light)
  • Neglect 

How long do indoor plants typically live?

On average, indoor house plants last 2-5 years. After that, plants stop thriving and it’s best to invest in another plant.

Which interior plants improve air quality the most?

All plants can act as air purifiers but these plants are more beneficial than others.

      Red-Edged Dracaena
  • Weeping Fig
  • Bamboo Palm

How do indoor plants affect people’s mood?

People are often surprised on how beneficial indoor plants are. Not only do plants clean the air, but they also reduce noise levels and stress in the workplace. For more information on the benefits of indoor plants, click here.

Are indoor plants expensive?

Indoor plants are known for being very affordable. The smaller the plant, the less expensive it will be. We do warn customers from buying plants from large retailers. Oftentimes, large retailers will sell coconut or palm trees, which are large indoor plants sold at a relatively low price.

Just because a plant is large and sold for a low price does not mean you are getting the best deal. We recommend doing some research prior to buying or speaking with a salesperson at a gardening center.


Which indoor plants work well for small living spaces?

The plants below are great for those living in apartments or working in a small workspace. Here is a list of small plants great for small spaces.

  • Philidrens
  • Succulents, if you have a good light source
  • Hedra helix
  • Devil’s Ivy

What is the best kind of indoor plant fertilizer to use?

Go to a garden center and look for a fertilizer with “indoor plant” on the label. You will use less fertilizer for plants inside versus outside, so ensure you use the rate specified for indoor plants. If you’re getting fertilizer for blooming plants, look for a fertilizer labeled with the type of plant (orchids, for example) – but if it is unclear which one you should pick, it’s fine to use fertilizer for houseplants.

How do I get rid of bugs on indoor plants?

Bugs on your indoor plants can be really annoying! If you spot pests, go to a garden center and purchase an insecticidal soap, which usually is contained in a spray bottle. When you notice bugs, spray the entire plant – the undersides and tops of the leaves as well as the stem. Next, wait about two weeks and repeat the spraying. Then, wait two more weeks and spray again.

You will want to spray three times because the soap usually will not eliminate eggs, which could hatch. If your plant is dealing with a severe infestation and you are unable to eradicate the pests, throw out the plant. You can also use a damp paper towel to remove a pest.

How do I know when to water my indoor plant?

Over-watering is a common mistake, and you will want to make sure the plant actually requires water now or if it should wait until later. Here are some ways to see if it’s time to water:

  • Soil probe – This probe will draw out soil, which will help you understand how dry the soil is below the surface.
  • Moisture meter – This tool tells you, on a scale, how dry soil is.
  • Lifting the plant up – Heaviness signifies the plant has enough water, but lightness signifies the plant is dry.
  • Wilting – Wilting typically happens because the plant is not getting sufficient water. Lift the plant to see if it is light in weight or if it’s heavy.
  • Tipping – If the leaf edges begin browning and are crispy to the touch, the plant likely needs water. If the leaf edges are becoming brown but feel mushy, the plant has likely gotten too much water.
  • Yellow leaves – Yellow leaves may also signify that a plant has too much or too little water, but this is not always the case.

How do I care for peace lily plants indoors?

Peace lily plants (spathiphyllum) could make a nice addition to your indoor space, such as an office. These plants need to be watered moderately often, but make sure you do not over-water them. If your peace lily begins wilting, just give it some water. You’ll know it has enough if water begins seeping out of the pot’s drainage holes. Peace lilies also will handle low light. A north-facing window is a nice location for this plant, but you do not necessarily need to put it in a window.


Source: Ambius

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Starting a garden is one of the most rewarding things you can do. Plant fragrant florals or start a vegetable garden (or both!), and everyone can benefit from getting their hands a little dirty. But if you're new to gardening, it can be difficult to know where to start. Still, it doesn't have to be complicated; when you break your project down into manageable steps, you can ease into gardening at your own pace. And soon you'll see the rewards of your efforts with beautiful views, delicious flavors, and colorful blooms. These steps will help you get started from scratch, but if you have something particular in mind, you could also use a garden plan to guide your design.

 
 
 
1. Consider What to Plant

Do you want to plant a vegetable garden? An herb garden? A flower garden? If you choose vegetables and herbs for their contributions to your dinner table, plant ones your family will eat or be willing to try. If you want flowers for their flair, color, and fragrance, decide whether you want annuals that bloom most of the summer but need to be replanted each spring or perennials that have a shorter bloom time but return year after year. Each one, or even a combination, makes a stunning garden but will have different maintenance requirements. One bit of advice: Start small until you know what you’re getting into.

 

2. Pick the Correct Spot

Almost all vegetables and most flowers need 6-8 hours of full sun each day. So you need to observe your yard throughout the day to figure out which spots receive full sun versus partial or full shade. Don't worry if your lot is mostly shady: You won’t be able to grow tomatoes in shade, but many other plants (such as hostas and outdoor ferns) love it. Don't skip this step, because in order to thrive, your plants need to have their light requirements met. Check plant tags or ask the staff at your local garden center to help you understand out how much sun a plant needs.

  

Three additional tips: Pick a relatively flat spot for your garden because it’s more difficult, time-consuming, and expensive to deal with a sloping garden. Check for windbreaks (such as your house or your neighbor’s house) that will keep plants from being harmed by strong winds. And put the garden where you can't ignore its pleas for attention: Outside the back door, near the mailbox, or by the window you gaze through while you're cooking. Bonus if that place is close enough to a water spigot that you won't have to drag a hose across the entire yard.

 

3. Clear the Ground

Get rid of the sod covering the area you plan to plant. If you want quick results (if it’s already spring and you want veggies this summer), cut it out. Slice under the sod with a spade, cut the sod into sections to make it easier to remove, then put it on your compost pile to decompose.

It’s easier to smother the grass with newspaper, but it takes longer. (In other words, you should start in the fall before spring planting.) Cover your future garden with five sheets of newspaper; double that amount if your lawn is Bermuda grass or St. Augustine grass. Spread a 3-inch layer of compost (or combination of potting soil and topsoil) on the newspaper and wait. It'll take about four months for the compost and paper to decompose. But by spring, you’ll have a bed ready to plant with no grass or weeds and plenty of rich soil.

4. Improve the Soil

The more fertile the soil, the better your vegetables will grow. The same holds true for other plants. Residential soil always needs a boost, especially in new construction where the topsoil may have been stripped away. Your soil could be excessively wet, poor and infertile, or too acidic or alkaline. The solution is usually simple: Add organic matter. Add a 2- to 3-inch layer of compost, decayed leaves, dry grass clippings, or old manure to the soil when you dig or till a new bed. If you decide not to dig or are working with an established bed, leave the organic matter on the surface where it will eventually rot into humus (organic material). Earthworms will do most of the work of mixing humus in with the subsoil.

To learn more about your soil, have a soil test done through your county cooperative extension office. They'll lead you through the procedure: How much soil to send from which parts of the garden and the best time to obtain samples. Expect a two-week wait for the findings, which will tell you what your soil lacks and how to amend it.

5. Work the Soil

Working the soil is essential to preparing new beds for sowing or planting because it allows roots to penetrate the soil more easily to access water and nutrients. There are two methods: Tilling and digging.

Tilling consists of cultivating soil with a mechanical device such as a rototiller. This is a good method when you need to incorporate large amounts of amendments. However, it can also disturb microorganisms and earthworms. So it’s better to do too little than too much. Excessive tilling and working soil when it’s too wet or dry damages soil structure and plant roots.


Digging is more practical for preparing small beds. Dig only when the soil is moist enough to form a loose ball in your fist but dry enough to fall apart when you drop it. Use a sharp spade or spading fork to gently turn the top 8 to 12 inches of soil, mixing in the organic matter from Step 4 at the same time. (Walking on prepared beds compacts the soil, so lay down boards temporarily to evenly distribute your weight.)

 

6. Pick Your Plants

Some people pore over catalogs for months; others head to the garden center and buy what wows them. Either method works as long as you choose plants adapted to your climate, soil, and sunlight. You can even surf the Internet for plants to purchase. Here are a few easy-to-grow plants for beginners:

  • Annuals: Calendula, cosmos, geraniums, impatiens, marigolds,  sunflowers, and zinnias
  • Perennials: Black-eyed Susans, daylilies, lamb's ears, pansies, phlox,  purple coneflowers, and Russian sage
  • Vegetables: Cucumbers, lettuce, peppers, and tomatoes

7. Start Planting

Some plants, such as pansies and kale, tolerate cold, so you can plant them in autumn or late winter. Tomatoes and most annual flowers, on the other hand, prefer warm temperatures, so don't plant them until the danger of frost has passed in your area. Midspring and midautumn are good times to plant perennials.


Many plants, such as lettuce and sunflowers, are easy to grow from seed directly in the garden. Be sure to read the seed packet for information about planting time, depth, and spacing. If you're an adventurous beginner, get a head start on the growing season by sowing seeds indoors a few weeks before the last frost date. There are containers or flats designed especially for seedlings and seed-starting soil mixes available at garden centers. Follow seed packet instructions and place the containers on a sunny windowsill or under grow lights if you don't have window space. Be sure to keep the seeds and seedlings moist but not wet, or they may rot.


An easier method of starting your garden is to buy young plants, called set plants or transplants. Dig holes in your prepared bed based on tag instructions. Remove plants from the container by pushing up from the bottom. If the roots have grown into a big ball (known as being root-bound), use a fork or your fingers to untangle some outer roots before setting it into the hole. Pat soil into place around the roots, then soak the soil with water.


8. Water at the Right Time

Seedlings should never be allowed to dry out, so water daily. Taper off as the plants get larger. Transplants also need frequent watering (every other day or so) until their roots become established. After that, how often you need to water depends on your soil, humidity, and rainfall, though once a week is a good place to start. Clay soil dries out more slowly than sandy soil, so you won't need to water it as often. Sunny, windy conditions dry out soil more quickly than cool, cloudy weather. Still not sure? Feel the soil 3 to 4 inches below the surface. If it feels dry, it’s time to water. Water slowly and deeply, so the water soaks in instead of running off. To minimize evaporation, water in the early morning.

9. Protect Your Garden With Mulch

To help keep weeds out and moisture in, cover the soil with a couple of inches of mulch. You won’t have to water as often, and by preventing sunlight from hitting the soil, you’ll prevent weed seeds from germinating. Choose from a wide variety of mulches, each with its own benefits, including shredded bark, straw, and river rock. If you use an organic mulch, such as bark, compost, or cocoa bean shells (which smell good, by the way), it will nourish the soil as it decomposes. For a vegetable garden or bed of annuals, choose a mulch that decomposes in a few months. For perennials, use a longer-lasting mulch such as bark chips.

 

10. How to Maintain Your Garden

Your garden is beginning to grow. Help it reach its full potential by keeping up with garden chores. Water the plants. Pull weeds before they get big. Get rid of dead, dying, and diseased vegetation. Banish destructive insects by picking them off the plant and dropping them into a bucket of sudsy water (such as tomato hornworms), hosing them off, or spraying on an insecticidal soap purchased at a garden center. Support tall plants (such as tomatoes) with a trellis, stake, or a tepee. Also, harvest vegetables as soon as they’re ready. And remember to stop and smell the... well, whatever it is you’re growing.


If you enriched the soil with compost before you planted, you may not need to do any additional fertilizing. Then again, some vegetables (including tomatoes and corn) are heavy feeders and may need a quick-release fertilizer every three to four weeks. Ask an expert at the garden center for help and always follow package directions carefully.



Source: Better Homes and Gardens 

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Being stuck at home isn’t easy, especially when you’re sharing the space with your entire family or roommates. So naturally, many of us are probably retreating to the space we may have previously used only for sleep: the bedroom.


Those four walls might feel like they're closing in on you right about now—and you’re probably more than ready for a little pick-me-up. After all, as long as you're stuck in there anyway, you might as well take on a project that will cheer you up, right?

With that in mind, here are eight of our favorite easy projects you can tackle in your bedroom while social distancing.



Source: Realtor.com

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1. Shop at the Right Time of Year

Time home item purchases to get the cheapest prices. Think furniture in January/February, barbecues in fall, and holiday decor after Christmas. See Wise Bread's shopping calendar to find the best times to buy (and stay tuned for our monthly "What to Buy" feature, which runs on or around the first of every month).

2. Renegotiate Your Rent or Refinance Your Mortgage

Try negotiating a lower rent the next time your lease is up for renewal. For homeowners, investigate refinancing your mortgage if you can save a couple of percentage points on your interest rate.

3. Get a Sunday Paper Delivery

Sunday papers are full of coupons. The amount of savings gained from using these food and retailer coupons will far exceed the cost of the paper.

4. Collect Spare Change

Keep a jar to collect loose change. Don't forget to check old junk drawers and the couch for coins, too. Every few months you can dump the change in your supermarket's Coinstar machine to use towards groceries. You'll pay no fees if you convert your coins to a variety of gift cards, including Amazon gift cards, where you can take advantage of Prime and Subscribe and Save.


5. Switch to Cloth Napkins

You can get good-enough-for-everyday and still much nicer than paper, all-cotton table napkins at Amazon and elsewhere, in a variety of colors and patterns, for a couple of dollars each, and sometimes less. Since they're cotton instead of linen, just wash and fold, no ironing required!

6. Dollar Store Household Items

Get to know your local dollar stores. Buying household staples like tape, wrapping paper, soap, and other items will save you a bundle over the grocery store or pharmacy. 

7. Relax for Less

Rather than pay for relaxation, find other cheaper ways to unwind. Try meditation, reading, napping, or an affordable hobby instead of old habits that cost more, like shopping online or mixing up expensive cocktails.

8. Grow Some Herbs

Herbs can easily be grown indoors on a small windowsill or outside in pots or gardens. They will help you save on buying expensive grocery store jars of seasonings, will taste fresher, and can be easily dried and stored.

9. View Coupons as Money

When you realize a $10 coupon for something you need is the same as someone giving you $10 in cash towards your purchase, you'll start to see the value of coupons and savings in a whole new way.

10. Close Closet Doors

Help keep your energy costs lower by closing closet doors so you aren't needlessly heating and cooling closet space.

11. Pay Your Bills Online

Not only will this save you stamps and checks, but the many email reminders and ease of paying online will help you never miss a bill and have to pay a late charge. 

12. Use Supermarket Weekly Circulars

Don't just throw out that weekly grocery store circular. Give them a good look and plan to strategically shop the many deals they have, or stock up on deeply discounted items when bargains arise.

13. Entertain Over Brunch Instead of Dinner

Brunch items are often cheaper to prepare than dinner for guests (think French toast vs. expensive steaks). You'll also save on alcohol, as people are less likely to drink as much.

14. Make a Household Budget

It's time to sit down and do a budget to trim the fat, see where your hidden expenses are, and examine where your dollars are going. You can learn to build a budget in no time flat, or tune up one you currently have.


15. Make Your Own Cheap Wall Art

Affordable wall decor is at your fingertips when you transform some of your favorite photos into a collage of cool black and whites, frame beautiful fabric scraps, utilize your kid's artwork, or paint your own scenes. 

16. Take Free Classes

Free or discounted continuing education classes in many subjects and hobbies can be found in certain communities with just a little searching. Instead of paying for a private tutor or a fancy school, consider looking for community options.

17. Organize and Use Your Pantry

Keeping a well-organized food pantry means you are less likely to buy things you don't need or let items go passed their expiration dates. Like a good episode of Food Network's "Chopped," you should also make sure to use all items in your pantry, too. 

18. Always Check for Online Coupons and Discounts

Before you purchase anything online, hit up sites, like RetailMeNot and Froogle, to check for promo codes, free shipping, and where to find your item at the cheapest price.

19. Make Your Own Drapes

If you've ever seen how much curtains can go for these days, you'll understand why making your own is a huge saver. You don't even need to know how to sew if you follow some easy no-sew drape tutorials. 

20. Use Free Designers and Advice

Take advantage of many retailers' in-house design teams. Furniture stores often offer free design consultants, paint stores always have some knowledgeable advice, and even certain clothing retailers have free stylists to help you shop.

21. Drink Discount Wines

Shop your local wine store for great promotions and sales. Most decent stores have a section of their favorite budget picks or advertise weekly promotions from new wineries.

22. Use Energy Efficient Lighting

Now that the old-fashioned incandescent bulbs are being phased-out, finding affordable CFL and LED bulb options is getting easier. The total lifetime savings from these energy-efficient bulbs will greatly out-weigh their initial investment and save on overall energy costs.

23. Be Your Own Barista

We all know how much coffee shops can cost, so brew your own at home and take a to-go mug with you in the morning. Invest in small hand-frothers, syrups, or just use cinnamon or other common flavorings to fancy things up. 

24. Join Store Loyalty Programs

Supermarkets, pharmacies, and retailers all offer loyalty cards these days. The points and savings really add up. You can save almost 25% or more off purchases just by being part of the program.

25. Find Cheaper Gas

Before you head out to the pump, check gas price sites, like Gas Buddy, to locate the cheapest gas in town and plan accordingly.

26. Make Your Own Cleaners

There are so many ways to make your own cleaning products using things like vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice, and other common household items, all of which are cheaper than brand name cleaners.

27. Divide Landscaping Plants and Use Transplants

When planning your outdoor landscape, look to friends or relatives that have extra plants you can to transplant in your garden. Or divide your own larger plantings and spread them around the yard.

28. Rethink Your Cable

Cut back on premium channels or try the many alternative, cheaper online viewing options, such as Netflix and Hulu+, which you can access via your laptop or connected devices like Google Chromecast and Apple TV, among others.

29. Buy in Season or Frozen Veggies

Avoid pricey out-of-season fruits and vegetables or exotic fresh picks at your grocery store and instead buy local, in-season options. Frozen is also cheaper and just as full of nutrients. 

30. Buy Generic

There are great savings to be had with certain generic brands in every supermarket. Often the generic options are just as good, if not better, than some of their pricier brand name counterparts. In fact, many store or "private label" brands are manufactured by the same companies that make the name brands.



Source: Wise Bread

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