Gardeners can use the same compost, organic fertilizers, and natural pest control methods they use in the landscape to grow healthy indoor houseplants.
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Houseplants clean the air, beautify the home, and give idle organic gardeners something to care for in the winter months. However, caring for indoor plants introduces a new set of challenges for gardeners used to relying on natural outdoor dynamics like beneficial insects and earthworms.
Successful indoor gardening requires the gardener to tweak the organic approach he uses in the landscape to create a healthy growing environment in the kitchen, office, or living room.
Choosing the right plant for the right site is a key consideration in growing houseplants. One can’t expect to plunk a houseplant on top of the television, fill it with chemical fertilizers, and experience success.
Although many houseplants prefer at least moderate light, a few tough specimens will survive in low light conditions. According to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension, low light houseplant choices include spider plant, grape ivy, philodendron, and peace lily.
Besides light considerations, gardeners can get a good start for their houseplants by choosing healthy specimens free of pests. Give the plant a gentle shake at the nursery and watch for whiteflies, which flutter around the plant when disturbed. Observe the foliage closely and look for webbing that can indicate spider mite infestations. Remove the plant from its pot to ensure that it isn’t root bound.
Organic Soil for Houseplants
It’s unfortunate to behold a houseplant which has been languishing in the same container of sterile potting soil for years on end. Just as the hallmark of a healthy organic garden is its soil, so too does a houseplant need attention given to its planting medium.
A scoop of compost added to a houseplant’s container adds beneficial microorganisms that can improve the immune system of houseplants. Gardeners can buy earthworm castings to add what houseplants can’t get in containers, providing a natural way to improve the potting soil’s structure and ability to hold moisture.
Organic Houseplant Fertilizer
The same organic fertilizers that gardeners use in the outdoor garden can nourish indoor houseplants. Seaweed meal is a pricey additive to the outdoor garden, but the small amounts required for indoor plants make it a balanced source of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
A mixture of blood, fish, and bone meal provides all of the major elements plants require, and makes a good general fertilizer when applied every two weeks during the spring and summer months.
Organic Houseplant Pest Control
Gardeners can control spider mite and aphid populations by spraying houseplants with a strong jet of water each week. However, gardeners should allow the surface of the houseplant’s soil to dry out to prevent an infestation of fungus gnats.
Organic insect soaps and horticultural oils are acceptable insect controls for houseplants, but gardeners should throw away plants with heavy infestations to avoid contaminating other plants.