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How to become an amateur Gardener and turn your indoor City Space into the Perfect Urban Jungle

by | Oct 14, 2020

For many of us locked down in city apartments during the Covid-19 pandemic, gardening became the most popular activity.

For those living on their own, plants were the only company they had for weeks.

And keeping them alive and watching them grow became a job in itself, and a pleasurable one.

Contents:

  • Locked down with greenery
  • Most common mistakes
  • Pots and re-potting
  • Gardening courses
  • Indoor & outdoor plants
  • How to start

Becoming an expert though – with roughly 390,000 spieces of green plants – is another matter.

Lockdowners found a way to start, though, by caring better for the plants they’d had for months, years even, but rarely took any notice of.

Christmas: Shop the look…

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Most Common Mistakes we make when caring for our Indoor Plants

But learning from your mistakes is a starting point. 

The most common mistakes include:

  • over-watering
  • underwatering
  • too much sunlight
  • high temperature from the heater
  • too little natural light

How and when to water Indoor Plants

Watering is one of the most important things to consider – not just doing it but how often.

Too little water and they dry out and too much water will drown the roots and the plants will stop growing.

When the sun is out in the summer plants (like us) will need more watring and less in the colder winter months.

Instruction for how often to water Plants

Most indoor plants come with a small, simple watering guide on a piece of cardboard stuck in the pot.

But, as a rule they need watering twice a week in the summer and twice a month in winter.

Also check the soil with a finger – you’ll find out if it’s dry or possibly over-soaked.

The perfect soil is moderately moist which allows the roots to both breathe and drink at the same time.

If your pot is soaked in water, change the soil to let the roots catch breath.

How to chose a Pot for the Indoor Plant

A super trendy pot can also be a mistake….if it has no hole or outlet for surplus water the pot can become a death trap for the roots.

We townies and amateur gardenders are often attracted to a pot for its looks or how it fits in with the rest of the decor.

We still buy trendy pots though – and keep an eye on feed times.

Compost and repotting – how to upgrade the living space for your Indoor Plant

Another classic mistake is failing to re-pot, keeping a plant in a pot which it has outgrown, thus stunting growth.

Tell-tale signs are that the leaves don’t change and no new ones appear, even if they all still look green and healthy.

Plants grow so slowly it is easy to assume they are just looking after themselves. But they too will need more space as they grow.

Picture: Luther Bottrill

Light and Temperature – How to care for Plants in changing Conditions

Like watering advice, lighting advice is usually attached to plants sold in garden and shopping centres.

A plant can behave differently in the same room – bloom in one corner and wilt in another.

Natural sunlight playes a part too. They all need different amounts, some need lots and others only need in-direct sunlight.

Apart from light, the temperature plays a part. A steady room temperature is ideal.

A spot next to the radiator looks ideal in most homes, not least as the plant acts as a disguise, leading the eye away from sometimes unattractive heaters.

But plants don’t like to live right next to a radiator because of the fluctuating temperature: from sudden cold to sudden heat.

Leaves may start dropping and/or change colour.

How Indoor Plants help Improve Mental Health and Wellbeing

Plants are of course living creatures in as much as they need drink, food, light and nourishment as we do.

Indeed, to some they became substitute pets during the lonely months of Covid-19 lockdown.

That way, plants helped boost morale by getting people to watch something (anything) other than TV.

Observing and caring for plants is a quiet and peaceful activity and takes minds off stress and drama in the outside world.

Getting to know our Plants and how to Care for them

Plants are complex creatues and there are many courses for the truly dedicated.

The Royal Horticultural Society has a varity on offer from Cultivating Willow, Medicinal Herbs, Growing Vegetables, Introduction to Propagation, How to Grow and Cut Floewers, Lawn Care and much more.

But for the amateur gardener living in a city, tending our own house plants is a great way to start.

Getting to know our own plants intimately, how they react to drink, heat, cold and light is a simple pleasure.

Learning as we go along, seeing one of our pot plants thrive and grow is hugely satisfying and spurs us on to grow more plants.

Starting with one plant such as a fern is a good place for the beginner. Ferns are temperamental creatues: they can react differently in the same room…

A fern on the mantel piece may prosper and look bright green and shiny while another fern in the oppositte corner will look drab and dark green or even brown.

But ferns are complicated also for professional gardeners.

How to Choose and tell the Difference Between Indoor and Outdoor Plants

The easiest way to know what’s an indoor and outdoor plant – for the amateur – is to see where it’s placed at the nursery or DIY store.

If it’s displayed outside the store it’s an outdoor plant and if it’s inside the shop it’ll thrive indoors at your place too.

A plant displayed outside is unlikely to last very long indoors.

The subtle Difference

There’s a big difference between outdoor and indoor plants, but it’s a subtle one for the keen amateur.

Best strategy to become an expert gardener is to focus on one of them – for us city dwellers it’s about focusing on indoor plants.

It’s about getting to know which plants are best for what room.

Some require humidity which works for the bathroom.

Others need direct sunlight, which is perfect for the sitting room with large windows facing south (if you’re in the USA or Europe – north in Australia).

Once you’ve mastered indoor gardening there’s a whole new world of outdoor gardening to get to grips with.

But if, like us, you’ve taken to house plants, you may just like to stick with your own urban jungle.

Dressing a House Plant for added Glamour

However pretty the plant is in its own right, we at DU are huge fans of topping the soil with something…

Many garden centres sell the coolest stones which not only dress the plants and brighten the mood, but also gets¨ in the way of bugs.

Bugs like direct access to the soil.

We’ve written about decorative stones here – but briefly: pick alsmost any colour stone, wood or other topping and cover the soil with a handful of the material.

It will completely change the look of the plant.

Pick colours to suit your home or taste – our favourite is the natural look: gren stones which add both glamour and a natural outdoorsy look to the indoor plant.

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