Many tropical plants that grace southern gardens do well indoors as house plants. Bring the feel of the tropics indoor by growing tropical plants.
Palms, crotons, Ti plants, ficus trees, pothos, and ivies will all grow well indoors. The snake plants, bamboo, ferns and scheffleras that grace the landscapes in southern climates can create the same tropical look inside a home.
For flowering plants, geraniums, begonias, impatiens and even azaleas will thrive both indoors and out, with the proper care.
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The trick to getting outdoor plants to flourish inside is to duplicate their natural living conditions as much as possible. For this, one must consider temperature, light, water and humidity conditions. Some of these factors are further influenced by indoor winter conditions.
Light Requirements for Tropical Indoor Plants
Light requirements differ for each plant. This is why it is important to decide the final location of a plant before purchase.
As a general rule, indoor plants do best in bright but indirect light, while flowering plants usually require more light, and some deep shade plants such as sansevieria (the snake plant) and chlorophytum (the spider plant) will do very well in a fairly dim location.
Watering Tropical Indoor Plants
Watering potted plants is a little trickier than watering plants in the ground. Additionally, some plants will need less water in the winter because they are not experiencing as much growth.
The best rule of thumb is to water the plant when the surface soil is dry to the touch to the depth of 1/2 to 1 inch. When you do water, make sure that you water thoroughly, by allowing water to drain through the plant and out the drainage hole in the bottom.
If you use a tray to catch this drained water, empty the tray promptly, as most plants will suffer if allowed to sit in standing water. Many more indoor plants die from overwatering then from under watering.
Fortunately, most plants find comfortable the same temperatures that humans do. Like humans, plants can also suffer from drastic changes in temperature.
Make sure plants are not directly in front of a heating vent. Also, although plants may thrive next to an access door during other times of the year, the cold drafts from such a door may affect them during the winter.
Even windowsills may be too cold for some of your more delicate houseplants during the coldest nights.
Controlling Pests on Plants
Pests usually attack plants that are under stress or weak. Maintaining the proper conditions for keeping the plant healthy goes a long way in avoiding pests.
If you do notice pests on your indoor plants, many can be managed by cleansing with mild soapy water. Insecticidal soap is available at most nurseries and will allow you to avoid the use of poisonous chemicals inside your home.
Fertilizing Indoor Plants
Unless advised otherwise by your nursery, avoid fertilizing indoor plants in the winter. Because of the shorter days and lower levels of light, most plants become at least somewhat dormant in winter.
Generally speaking, they will not need fertilizing until they begin to produce new growth in the spring.
One thing that should be considered is the need for extra humidity in the winter. Excessive use of heaters or fireplaces can dry out household air.
If you run your heater or fireplace for a number of days in a row, you may have to provide additional humidity to your plants.
This can be accomplished by misting the air around your plants, placing plants on pebble trays, or by placing them in rooms with a higher level of humidity, such as bathrooms, kitchens or laundry rooms.
And remember, plants are living things. If you have questions about their care or health, be sure to contact your local nursery professional. If you detect problems, it is helpful to take a leaf or other sample of the problem for them to examine.