11 Tips for a Flourishing Indoor Garden

Bring Nature Indoors


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Bring Nature Indoors

Home Grown

Indoor gardening has all the makings of the perfect hobby: It's challenging, it's rewarding, and you don't even have to leave the house. From succulents to ivy and from herbs to flowers, the right houseplants can bring life to your home like nothing else. With winter hitting its full stride, we compiled some of the best gardening tips to help your plants flourish no matter the season.

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Let Plants Hibernate
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Let Plants Hibernate During Winter

Houseplants don't grow much during winter because they basically sleep through the season, so you don't have to feed them fertilizer. Instead, make sure they're clean and ready to resume their growth cycle when spring arrives.

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Related: Edibles Anywhere: 15 Foods to Grow in a Container Garden

Watch Out for Problems

Keep an Eye Out for Potential Problems

Are your plant's leaves turning yellow or falling off? Does it suddenly have bumps? Is it drooping? These symptoms might signal unique problems, but one thing's for sure: The best way to keep your plant healthy is to notice these kinds of changes early so you can correct the problem before it's too late.

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Keep an Eye on the Sunlight

Chase the Sun With Your Plants

As the seasons change, so does the sun's arc across the sky. The result can be that your plants are getting much more or much less sunlight than before, so keep an eye on the changing light and move plants accordingly.

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Use the Right Soil

Use the Right Soil

Not all houseplants thrive in the same type of soil. For instance, succulents originate from warm and dry desert regions, so the soil you use to plant your outdoor hydrangeas probably isn't the best match for them. Research which type of soil your plant needs, or consult your local nursery.

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Repot When Necessary
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Repot Only When Necessary

Houseplants are sensitive to major changes in environment, and repotting them can actually put them in shock. Typically, you should repot only when plants become pot-bound, the signs of which include: roots coiling in the bottom of the pot, roots growing out of the drainage hole, or slow growth. Repotting is best done in the spring or summer.

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Control the Climate
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Control the Climate

Winter is a tricky time for houseplants, most of which come from tropical areas. Both cold drafts and heat from a radiator or vent pose a danger to houseplants, so do your best to keep your plants away from vents and doors while keeping temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit in the daytime, and above 50 degrees at night.

Clean Your Plants

Clean Your Plants

Plants actually "breathe" through the pores (stomata) in their leaves, but this process can become hindered if they're left to accumulate dust and grime. Keep your houseplants healthy by dusting and cleaning them regularly — small plants can be rinsed off in the sink, larger ones do just fine in the shower. Remember to always use lukewarm water.

Related: In Full Bloom: Photos of Gorgeous Botanical Gardens in All 50 States

Use Less Water in the Winter
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Use Less Water in the Winter

Houseplants respond to cooler temperatures by slowing their growth, or even going dormant. It might seem intuitive to give them more water in the winter, but this can actually kill them. Instead, wait to give them a drink until the soil is dry about 2 inches under the surface. It also might be beneficial to invest in an inexpensive moisture meter (this one from Kensizer pulls triple duty — it can also test soil pH and monitor light intensity).

Use the Right Pot
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Use the Right Pot

You may not need to water houseplants often, but they still need to drain so their roots can access enough air. Decorative pots and wraps often don't have any holes, so make sure your pot has a drainage hole at the bottom, and that the saucer you place it on is detachable.

Keep it Humid
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Mind the Humidity

Houseplants tend to fare best at humidity levels around 50%. If you plan on using a heater this winter, beware: The humidity level of your home could drop to 10%. You can compensate for the dry air by placing your plants near a humidifier or tray of water, grouping them together, or misting them throughout the day. Whatever you do, don't stick them directly in a tray of water — that could cause root rot.

Too Much Sunlight Can Be Harmful
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Know Your Light

Too much sunlight can actually be deadly for many popular indoor plants, such as dracaena, ferns, and spider plants. Know how much each of your plants needs. The general rule is to keep plants that thrive in direct sun near south-facing windows, and those that prefer indirect light near windows facing north.

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