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So, you have just signed the lease on your new apartment. Everything is great… except there are not quite as many windows as you would have liked. While lack of access to natural light is already enough of a drag for you, you may also be worried about your plant babies. Or, maybe you were really excited to get into indoor gardening upon your new move. Well, Soltech is here to help with all your apartment gardening queries. Read on for our tips on plant selection, and on making the most of the light and space you already have available to you!
Picking Your Plants
Also known as the mother-in-law's tongue, snake plants are hardy and can tolerate low light conditions. They are known for their air-purifying qualities and are relatively low-maintenance. Snake plants are also drought tolerant. If you are forgetful, or travel frequently, we recommend the snake plant for its relatively forgiving nature. Plus, its unique look adds a lot of visual intrigue to any space.
The ZZ plant is well-suited for low light and can tolerate neglect, making it an excellent choice for offices or rooms with minimal sunlight. It has attractive glossy green leaves, and is also drought tolerant. Another benefit of this plant is that it is slow growing, meaning it is ideal for your pots and planters that you may want to keep around for a while, without having to repot its prior residence and fill it with something new.
Peace lilies are adaptable plants that can thrive in low light. They also have the added benefit of producing white, elegant flowers. These plants are often a symbol of hope. While you may or may not believe in the concept of spiritual healing, the one thing this plant also cleanses is the air, another feature which makes it a popular choice for homeowners. All the plant really needs in return is for the soil to be kept consistently moist for optimal growth.
Pothos, also known as Devil's Ivy, is a versatile and low-maintenance plant that can tolerate low light conditions. It has trailing vines with heart-shaped leaves and can be grown in hanging baskets or as a climbing plant. Pothos plants will communicate to you fairly clearly when they need to be watered by drooping when they are dehydrated. There are various types of this popular houseplant, ensuring you can create a unique look in your home suitable to your own personal tastes.
Cast Iron Plant:
As the name suggests, the cast iron plant is extremely resilient and can tolerate low light, neglect, and various environmental conditions. It has dark green, leathery leaves and is well-suited for indoor settings. If you think you may keep up an irregular watering schedule this is the plant for you!
General Care and Setup
Of course, the general setup of an apartment can greatly impact the health and well being of your indoor garden. We recommend these simple tips and tricks to keep everything green and thriving.
Identify Light Levels:
- The light will be different in every space, especially in apartments, which will vary greatly depending on which direction you are facing, how many windows you have, and even factors like which floor your room is on. So, it is very important in these conditions to assess the natural light levels in different areas of your apartment before purchasing, knowing that you might not have the ability to switch the room and improve the conditions it is living in. Consider plants, and whether they need low-light, moderate-light, or bright-light conditions. You can also invest in a grow light, like the Aspect™ hanging pendant grow light from Soltech!
- In the light conditions you do have available, make sure you are rotating your plants regularly. This ensures all sides receive adequate sunlight, preventing uneven growth and making sure the plants do not grow sideways as a response to available light.
Establish a regular watering schedule based on the needs of your plants. Overwatering and underwatering can both be harmful, so monitor the soil moisture and adjust your watering routine accordingly.
Ensure that your pots have drainage holes to prevent waterlogging. Proper drainage is crucial for the health of most plants.
Some plants prefer higher humidity levels. If your apartment has dry air, consider misting the plants occasionally or placing a tray with water near them to increase humidity. You can also keep plants with a higher humidity need in spaces such as the bathroom, to help them get the adequate moisture they need. However, if you have a windowless or light lacking bathroom, we recommend a grow light. The Vita™ bulb is a great option, and can be installed into most standard fixtures.
Most indoor plants prefer temperatures between 60-75°F (15-24°C). However, this can of course vary. Make sure you research what your plants' specific needs are, to ensure they have the optimal setup. One general rule of thumb you can apply, though, is to avoid placing plants near drafts, heaters, or air conditioning units that can cause extreme temperature fluctuations.
Soil and Potting:
Use a well-draining, nutrient-rich potting mix appropriate for the types of plants you have. Repotting may be an issue, make sure you add additional soil and place your plant in a pot at least 1 to 2 inches bigger than your original pot.
How to Care for Specific Plant Types
Research Your Plants Needs
- Different plants have varying care requirements. Understand the specific needs of each plant regarding light, water, and nutrients.
Pruning and Maintenance:
- Regularly inspect and prune your plants to remove dead or yellowing leaves. This promotes healthy growth.
- Keep an eye out for pests like spider mites, aphids, or scale insects. Address pest issues promptly using natural remedies or insecticidal soaps.
- Feed your plants with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer during the growing season. Follow the recommended dosage on the fertilizer packaging.
- Ensure that plants are not overcrowded, allowing for adequate air circulation. This helps prevent the development of mold and enhances overall plant health.
Observe and Learn:
- Pay attention to your plants and observe how they respond to their environment. Adjust care routines based on the specific needs and reactions of each plant.
Improving the Light Conditions
For non-low light plants, this often involves maximizing the available natural light or supplementing it with artificial light. Here are some strategies to adjust an area for better light conditions:
- It may seem like an obvious measure to take, but lots of people overlook how clean their windows are. Ensure that windows are clean to allow maximum light penetration. Dirt and dust on windows can significantly reduce the amount of sunlight reaching your plants.
Use Reflective Surfaces:
- Mirrors will not only help your garden appear larger and more full, they also help bounce and distribute light more effectively, especially in areas with limited direct sunlight. Place your mirror in the area of highest light and face it towards the area of lowest light. Even a reflective surface like tin foil will have a positive impact, just put a lining of it at the base of the plant so it can reflect up towards the plant.
Prune or Thin Foliage:
- Removing excessive foliage from bushy and dense plants allows more light to reach the inner parts of the plant. Again, a mirror can make this pruned foliage appear fuller, while helping it still appear fuller.
- Artificial Grow Lights: If natural light is insufficient, use artificial grow lights. LED o grow lights, such as the Grove™ grow barlight fixture, can provide the necessary spectrum for plant growth. Position the lights at an appropriate distance from the plants, and follow recommended light duration.
Adjustable Curtains or Shades:
- Install curtains or shades that can be adjusted to control the amount of light entering the room. Sheer curtains can filter and diffuse light, providing a more even distribution.
Consider Plant Placement:
- Elevate or Hang Plants: If floor space is limited, consider hanging or elevating plants to maximize light exposure. Hanging baskets or shelves near windows can be effective.
Growing houseplants in an apartment is a great way to actually open up the space. Especially if you implement the mirror tricks we recommended, you can really open up the space. We all know plants are a hobby in themselves, but they can also introduce you to a whole new way of styling your space.
Beyond just interior decor needs, they also help establish a care routine for their owners. If you notice issues with your plants and the light they are receiving, this may mean there is some sort of issue involving the amount of light they are receiving within the space. Looking for the issues and addressing them, by pruning or cleaning the windows, can have the benefits of basic caretaking lessons, but can also inspire and remind them to clean and care for their space. This is a much more enjoyable method of doing this as opposed to making a chore chart.
Decorating with Plants
Here are a few ideas for creative plant setups we love, just in case you need some inspiration for your apartment. Space is certainly a priority in any tight space, so we recommend you start with vertical setups, or easily adjusted setups like tables or pots.
Idea One: a Plant Wall
Some living walls are intense constructions, involving lots of engineering and a fair bit of engineering. While you can certainly opt for this route, we recommend framed plant wall setups for beginners. We have several blogs on this topic, including this one on how to frame a succulent garden. However, there is endless information all over the internet about these projects, offering ideas and inspiration.
Idea Two: Plant Shelves
Involving even less construction, plant shelves are great for people who have other things to store along with their garden. Create a bookshelf/plant shelf hybrid by pairing the two in a setup. You can either install floating shelves, or get a bookshelf or similar setup, which may be more rental friendly. However, if you do store any additional trinkets on this setup, make sure you are careful to monitor how much humidity your plants need, as well as how much they give off. Items like books will be especially sensitive to moisture. Dryer plants, such as succulents, may be preferred in this situation. If you need additional light in this setup, the Grove™ Grow Bar Light is an excellent choice!
Idea Three: Floating Pots
There are so many unique planters to choose from, but if you are trying to save floor space, and also capitalize off that one stray beam of light in your home, we recommend you look into wall hanging planters. These options are also great for propagation, as many styles are minimalist and elegant.
Idea four: Hanging Planters
Ceiling hanging planters are also great for vining plants, especially. Ceiling planters allow for you to get plants extra close to natural light sources, without cramming the sills around your window as it is. Ceiling planters have always been popular in a variety of styles, from modern to minimalist, but recently we are obsessed with all things boho, and love the abundance of macrame styles available online.
Idea Five: A Plant Table
Unsure of your lighting conditions, or afraid to break out the drill because of your landlord? Well, a plant table might be the best choice for you. It really is as simple as it sounds, just find a table and put plants on it- but you can of course dress the idea up if you so choose. Some people create a tier system, to allow all plants more optimal access to light. Some people create a hollowed out table to plant shallow rooted plants in. You can opt for any one of these possibilities, or you can just put down a few potted plants on your coffee table, it’s really up to you!