Indoor Plant Tips for Busy Millennials (Or Anyone!)

Indoor gardening is a learning process that thrives on trial and error. To recognize changes in your plants and adjust your care accordingly, you must stay observant of them.

For the busy professional or novice gardener, checking in on your green leafy friends is probably last on your to-do list. Don’t fret; we’ve curated a list of simple and helpful gardening tips you can scan through on your lunch break.

Plants for Every Schedule

Get this; some plants thrive on neglect and low maintenance. This is excellent news for a busy jetsetter like yourself. You don’t have to resort to fake plastic plants. Instead, you can carefully select plant types that will thrive with the amount of care you can give. If you feel like you’re spreading yourself too thin with the plant types in your collection, it may be time to replace them with something more your speed.

Zanzibar Gemsnake plantslady palmpothos, and asparagus fern are all notoriously hardy indoor plants, but there are loads more to look into. Succulents are a popular craze, and many beginners pick up a few due to their attractive colors and accessibility. However, it is essential to note that most succulents do not thrive indoors.

Succulent varieties that require more direct light will become etiolated and lose color without it. Etiolation or “stretching” is an unhealthy and stressful condition for your buddy, and it does not look the best.

Succulents that do fine in indirect light or by a windowsill include haworthia varieties, aloe, gasteria, kalanchoe, and burro’s tail. Variations of these plants all react slightly differently to low light, so it’s still imperative to check on new plants regularly.

What’s in a Name

Many people like to anthropomorphize their plants with names, which is fine so long as they remember their Latin or English nicknames. Keeping track of plant types can become confusing, especially when your collection grows in number.

However, knowing your species is vital when troubleshooting a specific plant’s problems and diseases. It’s also just plain fun to build a mental catalog of species and their intricacies.

Research is such an important tool when developing your plant IQ. However, books and some simple Google searches should not be understated in their value. Another great idea most people never consider is browsing Facebook groups or Reddit pages. There are hundreds of plant groups that exist for sharing information about species.

There are even pages specific to beginners or certain plant types. Learning from the mistakes of others is so much faster than just learning from your own.

Lighting

If you find the right lighting conditions for each of your plants, your freedom to leave them be with minimal maintenance expands greatly. But lighting is such a vague subject. Online guides and tags that come with plants will use confusing phrases like “indirect bright light.” But how does it all translate to lighting in your home?

Direct Sunlight is light that travels directly from the sun to your plant’s leaves in a direct line. East-facing windows will provide direct morning light, which is less intense than afternoon light. West-facing windows will provide harsher, more direct light, burning succulents, and many other plants, especially if they are not appropriately acclimated.

Indirect Sunlight is light that is deflected and diffused off another surface, like curtains, furniture, or other plants. You can spot indirect light if a room is well lit, but nothing is covered in warm orange light from the sun.

High, Medium, and Low light levels can be thought of as the amount of Lux (lumens per square meter) your species requires to grow healthy and strong.

High – range 1614 to 10764 Lux.

Medium – range of 807 to 1614 Lux

Low – range 270 to 807Lux.

Note that light levels are not the same as light type (direct/indirect), as some plants need a high amount of indirect light. This would mean that the plant benefits from indirect light for a more extended period of the day. You can use handheld light meters to help you troubleshoot.

Lighting is tricky; sometimes, you won’t recognize that a plant is stretching for light until it is too late. When moving a plant to an area with more light, do this gradually. A sharp and sudden increase in temperature and light can shock plants and often sunburn them.

Make sure to rotate your plants a quarter to a half turn every week, or they will only grow in the direction facing the sun. Finding the correct lighting for a species is often the most challenging, but it’s smooth sailing once you get it down.

To Prune or Not to Prune

Pruning indoor plants is often overlooked, but it can help your collection stay healthy and beautiful year-round. To understand when and why to prune, it helps to understand the growing seasons. Most indoor varieties will benefit the most from pruning at the beginning of their growing season, which can occur from late Winter to Early Spring.

Plants require a lot of energy to produce and maintain flowers and leaves, so any aged or dying flower or offset is holding back growth potential. A good trim of old and dying plant matter  can allow your plant to focus energy and resources on new growth for the season.

Additionally, decaying plant matter is a perfect home for pests and mold, so you’ll want to remove it promptly. For flowering varieties, be careful not to trim new growth until after they have flowered, or you may be snipping off a potential bud.

Some species, like bonsai varieties, require pruning only for aesthetic purposes. It can also be used to encourage balanced and full growth, particularly for trailing plants keen to grow long and spindly. A thoughtful trim can create offsets that produce a thicker foliage wall.

Some people trim offsets for propagation purposes. This is especially popular for succulents and tropical plants. However, when succulents become etiolated, they can only grow thicker new growth once sunlight is corrected. Because of this, many enthusiasts opt to cut off healthy new growth and propagate an entirely new and healthier plant.

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