Summertime can see us either embracing the summer heat at the beach or enjoying more time indoors alongside our indoor jungle friends. Keep your leafy jungle companions happy with these easy tasks.
A breath of fresh air
Indoor plants don’t enjoy extremes of temperature. The living areas in your home suit them best as these rooms tend to be kept at a fairly constant comfort level. Whilst air conditioning makes the summer heat tolerable, the unit actually sucks the moisture out of the air to cool the space. This can result in plant dehydration, making the plant foliage wilt and potting mix dry out. To ensure that your plants do not suffer too badly from moisture depletion, give the plant and foliage a good water when the soil starts to dry out.
Positioning for indoor plants
Natural light is essential to indoor plants. Though some do quite well in dim surroundings, most need at least bright indirect sunlight for several hours a day to flourish. Generally, flowering indoor plants will bloom better with access to more light. When planning where to put your indoor plants, take advice from your garden centre and learn from your own experience. Some plants, such as ZZ plants, flourish in low-light conditions, while others must have sun. Don’t place large, spreading plants in walkways or landings where they may suffer damage from passing traffic.
To prevent uneven growth, quarter-turn pots regularly so all sides of the plants are exposed equally to the light. It is advisable to remove indoor plants from time to time to a sheltered position in your garden or on a verandah or patio for a week or so of outdoor living.
Fertilising indoor plants
Don’t over water or over fertilise. Keep a record of when you fertilise your plants and don’t be tempted to overfeed. Remember to feed and water less often in the winter months. Searles Flourish Green & Growth Soluble Plant Food will provide indoor plants with a complete plant food and trace elements for abundant leaf growth.
Ferns are among the most beautiful houseplants, with lacy fronds, classic textures and are low-maintenance as long as you’re careful to provide the right amounts of light and moisture. Most ferns are happy with indirect light that does not become too hot.
You’ll know if the fern is too dry as the tips of the fronds turn brown or die. To increase the moisture in the surrounding air, put your fern on top of some pebbles in a tray or saucer filled with a little water. Best to not let the plant touch the water, so its roots won’t rot.
Misting your fern is another easy option — not directly on the foliage, which could invite diseases, but around the soil or in the air.
Although most ferns like to stay evenly moist, don’t let them get soggy. Wait until the water drains out the bottom of the container and dump any excess.
Give your fern good air circulation.
If scale, mealybugs, mites or other pests show up, spray the affected area with Searles Pest Gun.
Plants for indoor gardens
Zamioculcas zamiifolia ‘Zenzii’
If you like the look and easy of care of ‘Zanzibar Gem’, meet its little more compact sibling. Requires the same light requirements – tolerating low light to bright indirect light. Ideal compact plant for small indoor spaces, apartments or the office. Allow the soil to dry out before watering.
Pilea ‘Moon Valley’
Deep, almost corrugated, foliage which resembles surface on the Moon and rich bright green in colour with purplish veins makes this plant so appealing. Compact plant for indoors and likes humidity.
Bromeliads make the perfect table centrepiece! Generally, they prefer shade or filtered sunlight, but there are also bromeliads that prefer full sun. If you’re buying one for instant decor display, make sure it is in flower. Of course, there are many bromeliads with brightly-coloured foliage that will catch the eye at any time of year.
One of the easiest of all plants would be members of the Philodendron family. There are so many members of this genus on the market these days and most are highly adaptable to varied climatic conditions. Their natural ability for drought tolerance accompanied by their lush foliage appearance makes them number one on the list for an addition for a tropical style garden. One of the best forms would be Philodendron selloum x ‘Hope’. This is a more compact version of the older and much larger style Philodendron selloum (bipinnatifidum) yet has smaller, less deeply-lobed leaves than its larger sibling. This is a medium-sized grower to around 1.5 metres x 1.5 metres with wavy foliage and is very dependable even in cold climates where it can tolerate near-freezing temperatures. Another is the old faithful, Philodendron ‘Xanadu’. In frost-free zones, ‘Xanadu’ can be adapted to grow out in the full sun if required, but in most areas, it’s best to keep them slightly undercover and away from the intense afternoon sun. Xanadu is also highly adaptable to cooler growing conditions but is a little less frost tolerant than Philodendron ‘Hope’.
Recognisable by its long, lime green fishbone fronds. Likes well-lit shady spot. Will perform well with regular watering in free-draining soil.
Devil’s Ivy – also known as golden pothos, Epipremnum aureum. “Snow Queen” and “Marble Queen” are popular cultivars. This plant loves to ramble. Water when the potting mix dries out slightly. Position in a bright, indirect shady spot and give it support to roam.
Asplenium nidus – We love this foliage plant for its tight crispy wave-like leaves. Also known as Birds Nest Ferns, these plants are easy to care for if positioned in a spot with bright indirect sunlight, and keeping the soil just slightly moist consistently will ensure their glossy leaves continue to sparkle.
Protect floors from pot water damage
Soil and moisture from pot plants can create problems if they come in contact with flooring, especially over long periods. Most good garden centres will sell plastic shields to protect your floor from moisture, abrasion and spillages from indoor plants. These shields are made from barely visible, transparent plastic and can be placed between pots and floor covering. They can also be placed inside woven baskets before pot plants are put inside them to keep the fibres clean and dry.
Sections of old carpet can be used as ‘coasters’ to prevent pot holders from scratching or marking polished wood floors. A convenient option is to attach the carpet permanently to the base of the pot-holder. To do this, place the potholder over the piece of carpet and draw around it with a marker or soft crayon. Cut along the outline with sharp scissors and glue it to the base of the potholder.