Starting Your Indoor Jungle
If you're often browsing social media platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest, you may have noticed an upward trend of indoor jungles... I know I have. Seeing these pictures of rooms or walls filled with all these stunning plants inspired me to start an indoor jungle of my own. Now that I have a mini jungle underway I thought I might share what I've learned and how to best start an indoor jungle of your own.
First a little blurb about the benefits of having an indoor jungle, or even just indoor plants at all. There is of course the simple benefit... they are pleasing to the eye and have feel good vibes, don't we all want more of that? More importantly than looks however, plants and people have a mutually beneficial relationship:
-They provide the oxygen we need to survive, and we provide the carbon dioxide they need
-They reduce carbon dioxide levels
-They reduce benzene and nitrogen dioxide levels
-They reduce stress and increase productivity
-They provide you with something to care for and something to focus your energy on, which is especially beneficial if you're dealing with loss or struggling in some way
-They make you happier
Now that we've learned how plants can change our atmosphere and well-being, let's learn how we go about creating our jungle.
Find out what kind of lighting you're working with. Most indoor plants like bright filtered light, some like dim light or even direct light, and there are some that can take a wide spectrum of light. Do your research... providing your plants with the proper environment is crucial to the success of your plant.
Water & Food
Yes plants need these the same way we do, just on a less frequent basis. Again, do your research! It's not as simple as water once a week, or twice a week... there are many factors such as air conditioning, heating, open windows, amount of light, type of pot it's in, size of pot it's in, and even the time of year that can effect the amount of water your plant needs. After doing some research on your specific plant, keep an eye on it for a couple of weeks... you may need to adjust how you're watering but most will give you indicators as to what they need. Be patient, it may take some trial and error, but you'll get it.
Be realistic about the amount of time you can dedicate to your indoor jungle. If you lead a super busy life, chances are your plants will be put on the back burner. If you can only manage to water once or twice a week, make sure you stick to plants that are more drought tolerant. If you can manage daily care feel free to get those high humidity, water loving plants. You may fall in love with certain plants and think you'll put in the effort to take care of them... if you think you can manage it, start off with one and see how you do.
Again, do your research! Plants are living organisms and they do grow so find out how big and how fast your plants will grow. Once you find out this information assess what type of container you would like to keep it in and where you'd like to display it.
Random, But Helpful Tips/Things I've Learned the Hard Way
-Start small. Although our goal is to create a jungle, you need to make sure you don't overwhelm yourself. It's easy to get caught up in the end result or the lush beauty that's bringing your space to life. It may become a small obsession, especially at first... you want more and more until you've taken on too much too fast. I'm a little guilty of this. I also have plants spread out throughout my home which makes it difficult at times to keep track of them all and give them all the attention they need.
-You'll find certain plants and you just don't mesh well. For me, that's a schefflera. I've tried again and again and done tons of research, but for some reason or other haven't been able to keep them alive too long.
-Some vining plants look amazing in macrame plant hangers or on a ledge where they can hang over. You may realize however, this makes them hard to get to which in turn makes you less likely to water them when needed. Additionally, having them up high means you'll need to pay extra attention to what they're telling you. My pothos for example... they are up high so I can't easily check the soil. Instead, when I notice it's foliage getting a little soft and limp I know it's time to come down for a bath.
-If you're a forgetful person, create a schedule. Pick a day or two out of the week that will be easiest for you to set aside time and check the soil on all your plants. Some may need the water, but some may not so don't just water them because this is the day you scheduled. The biggest mistake people make is over-watering. Most plants (not all) do better with an underwater than an overwater and will bounce back quicker in this scenario.
-Putting your plants in the bath tub is a great way to water. It's large enough to hold quite a few and obviously an easy clean up. If you only have one or two plants the sink is easy enough. Make sure you let the water drain out before putting the plant back in it's container. They won't like to sit in water.
-Most plants would prefer to have room temperature distilled water because chlorine, certain minerals, and salts can damage them. Alternatively you can use tap water that has been left out overnight. The chlorine will evaporate and this will give you room temperature water as well.
-Plants with big leaves such as rubber plants, fiddle leaf figs, and philodendrons are likely to catch dust. They won't be able to breathe well if there's dust build-up so if you notice this happening take a damp cloth to them and wipe their leaves. They'll be much happier.
-Please don't use ice cubes to water your plants... the cold will shock your plants and will very likely effect their longevity. Additionally, it's far less water than most plants will want, they like to have a good drink.
Again, research research research! Your plants deserve to live a happy life, and so do you. If you have any questions please feel free to ask me.