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October 2011
Now Everyone Can Grow

 

Don’t have green fingers? Don’t worry. Here’s how your indoor plants can thrive

IT IS nice to hear that more and more people are going green. Recently I met a young guy at a conference and, when he learnt that I was a “gardener”, he told me how he had bought some plants for his condo and they really made a difference. 

First, he said that plants brightened up his living room and friends who came for dinner complimented him, but the topic quickly changed to the frustration he felt in maintaining those plants.


Houseplants remain the cheapest and easiest way to brighten up and decorate interior spaces. They literally breathe life into any room and bring a touch of nature indoors. 

Do you remember coming home from school with a few green beans and sprouting them? The excitement built up as every minute you “peeped” to see whether they had grown. Once they sprouted the joy was immeasurable. This success story was so sweet. 

However, when they don’t, we blame our thumbs, saying they are not green!

A lot of people experience frustration when their plants die from improper care and they find caring for plants to be a chore. 

Well today, I hope to change this opinion. Plants can’t tell you when they’re thirsty or if fertilisers are needed. 

If you want to invite Mother Nature indoors, you need to create a conducive, balanced environment as we cannot just place plants indoors and expect them to thrive.

For a start, consider their basic needs — how much sun they require, how much water, potting media and even the right pot.

Make a list of plants that you like and do a bit of research on them. Check whether they are suitable for an indoor environment and how to care for them. 

This will minimise the fatality rate. 

You can actually tell how much sunlight a plant needs by looking at it, or rather looking at its lighting conditions at the place you bought it. 

For example, if you see a plant displayed in a shady and cool area in the nursery, chances are it’s a shade-loving plant. Similarly, a plant displayed in bright sunlight will grow sickly in the shade. 

At home, consider where you intend to place the plant. Is it facing west? Does it get very hot and bright in the afternoon? Is there strong artificial lighting? Does the artificial light generate too much heat? Match the correct plant to the correct location and you’ll save yourself tons of frustration and trouble.

Over-watering is still the biggest reason why plants die. Here’s a rule of thumb — water only when the topsoil is dry to the touch. 

For location ideas, it is generally prudent to place plants within easy reach.

For hanging baskets or places that are hard to reach, choose plants that require little watering. Armed with such knowledge, the chances of having success with your indoor plants will be greater.

If you have young children in the house, choose the potting medium wisely. 

Jelly balls were recently banned by the Ministry Domestic Trade, Cooperatives And Consumerism as they had proved to be a hazard. 

As an alternative to soil or compost, you can use pebbles, sphagnum moss, coir fibre or cocoa peat. These are excellent potting medium.

There are also some “easy to look after” plants. For example, a terrarium or “plant in the bottle”, is a collection of small plants growing in a tightly closed clear glass container. It is like a small ecosystem where photosynthesis takes place. It is a good way to keep plants indoor with minimum care as they create a self-sufficient environment. A terrarium is not only decorative but is a great conservation piece too. 

You can also recycle glass jars and clear bottles. It is a great pastime project to do with children and environmentally friendly. They make excellent personalised gift items.

Plant in the bottle or Green Pet is the latest craze. It is claimed to be the green innovation for the next generation. I will discuss more about this in the next article. Stay tuned.

At the end of the day, remember that the plants need to enjoy themselves as well with the right environmental conditions.


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