Three Steps for Getting Started with Your First Indoor Plant

A variety of indoor plants sitting in a sunny windowMaybe you don’t know much about plants. Maybe you’ve always been fascinated by them, but never took the time to grow and care for one. Or maybe you’re a formidable outdoor gardener, but never applied your skills to indoor, potted plants.

Whatever your knowledge about all things green and growing, we want to help you learn more about why taking care of interior plants is such a rewarding experience. They not only add beauty to your home, but also provide significant health benefits—and once you know what to do, getting started is simple. Regardless of whether you want to grow flowers, herbs, vegetables, or just want a new leafy-green friend, we’re here to help you get the ball rolling.

Step 1: Choose your plant carefully. It’s important you don’t run out and buy the first plant you see; even worse, don’t dig one up out of your back yard as this can traumatize and potentially kill it. Instead, make a deliberate decision about what kind of plant you want to grow. This is critical because some plants—bonsai trees for example—are notoriously difficult to maintain. But there are plenty of options that make an excellent first choice for someone looking to get more experience with horticulture:

  • As one of nature’s most effective medicinal plants, Aloe is a great choice for indoor gardening. It’s a succulent that requires little water, lots of sunlight, and likes dry soil. Some varieties of Aloe can grow several feet high, so make sure you have space.
  • Peace lily. The peace lily is a popular house plant that’s the staple of many indoor arrangements. It’s one of the easiest flowering plants to maintain, and it has gorgeous white blooms that can add vibrancy to any room. Peace lilies don’t require much sunlight and like damp soil.
  • Spider plant. Spider plants are popular indoor plants for several reasons, but one of the biggest is their resiliency. They prefer moist soil and thrive under medium or high light. They’re also easy to hang from a wall or ceiling.
  • Believe it or not, you don’t have to grow tomatoes outside. They’re hearty plants that can do great all year indoors if they receive ample light and water. Smaller tomatoes tend to do better inside, so cherry tomatoes can be a good place to start. You can even grow them upside down!

Step 2: Get the right supplies. With thousands of different potting mixes, lights, gardening tools, and other growing supplies, it’s easy to get overwhelmed when trying to figure out what you need to get started. The truth is that you don’t need a bunch of fancy supplies to grow healthy plants—you just need the right ones. Here’s what we recommend:

  • A pot or growing container with tray. Chances are good at least part of the reason you want to grow a plant indoors is to add beauty to your home. Choose a pot/container that fits well with your interior, and that’s an appropriate size for the plant you want to grow. Be sure the pot/container has holes for drainage and set it in a tray to prevent leakage when watering.
  • Soil/potting mix. These days, many indoor gardeners don’t actually use soil. Instead, they use a growing medium often made of vermiculite, compost, and/or peat moss. This medium is usually labeled as “potting mix,” and tends to be a good choice for inexperienced gardeners because it already contains nutrients that plants need to thrive. Keep in mind that you can still use regular potting soil, but you’ll probably have to supplement it with fertilizer.
  • Watering can. Whether you’re growing a plant that’s comfortable in drought conditions like a cactus or a succulent that needs more frequent watering, you’ll need to hydrate your plant. Having a watering can sitting out is also a great reminder to pay attention to the moistness of your soil.
  • Fertilizer. Depending on your plant and soil mix, you may need fertilizer to help supplement the plant’s nutritional needs. This is optional in many cases, as plenty of varieties of plants—especially the easy-to-grow examples listed above—don’t require fertilizer. But it’s often beneficial.

Step 3: Keep up with ongoing care. All plants need food, water, and light to survive; finding the right balance of these three elements is the key to success. Since all species of plants have different needs, it’s impossible to give hard and fast rules about ongoing care. The best advice is to pay close attention to your plant—ideally, you should do a visual inspection every day to look for signs of malnutrition, disease, and hydration issues. You should also touch the soil to gauge moistness; just remember that some plants do well in dry soil while others require more water.

A couple more things to remember about your plant’s environment are the temperature and airflow. Most hearty indoor plants do just fine between 65-80°F, but even in this range, they won’t respond well to drastic temperature changes. Also, a steady flow of air is beneficial to plant growth. Keep a fan running or windows open to create a breeze whenever possible. One final tip: It’s never a bad idea to occasionally wipe the leaves of plants with a clean, damp cloth to eliminate dust buildup.

As you can see, getting started with growing plants doesn’t have to be difficult. Like many hobbies, it’s a good idea to start small, then work your way up to more difficult challenges. Once you’ve been successful with one or two easy plants, you can start growing more challenging and exotic plants including Venus flytraps, orchids, and miniature roses. With so many options out there, the sky’s the limit!

If you’re looking for help choosing the right indoor plants for your home, we can help. Our team has been working with homeowners in and around Indianapolis for decades, and we’re ready to go to work for you. Contact us today to learn more.

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