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Indoor gardening is not only a rewarding hobby, it is also a method of cultivating more aesthetic decor and a more mindful lifestyle! All this, without breaking the bank? Yup! Indoor gardening is the answer, a gift for you or a loved one that can be shared without feeling a pinch in anyone's wallet. In this guide, we'll delve into practical strategies for growing an indoor garden on a budget.
1. Choose Budget-Friendly Plants:
Opt for plants that are not only aesthetically pleasing, but also resilient and affordable. Common houseplants like pothos, spider plants, and snake plants are not only visually appealing but are known for their adaptability and low maintenance requirements. Purchasing these plants in smaller sizes or as cuttings can significantly reduce costs.
2. Thrifty Containers:
Rather than investing in expensive pots, consider repurposing everyday items. Often, you’ll need to size up when repotting plants, especially if you opt to start from seeds or cuttings. Thrifting old teacups, mason jars, or even wooden crates can make charming and unique containers for your indoor garden, and also ensure you won’t over spend on a pot you will replace in a year. Second hand stores and garage sales often have an assortment of affordable and eclectic containers that can add character to your green space without draining your wallet.
Thrift Tip: Often, plants do not receive the care they need in big box stores. These plants will be left on the clearance rack. Sometimes, the plant can still be saved with a little TLC- but even if it can’t, the deal on a decorative pot will still be worth the risk of purchasing! Try your hand at plant resuscitation, and know you at least got a pot out of it even if the experiment fails.
3. DIY Potting Mix:
Creating your potting mix is not only cost-effective but also allows you to tailor the blend to your plants' specific needs. A simple mix of garden soil, perlite or vermiculite, and organic matter like compost can provide a well-balanced medium for most houseplants. Buying these components in bulk can further reduce costs over pre-packaged potting mixes.
Don’t be afraid to shop markdown soil- big box stores will frequently offer a discount on torn bags of potting mix. You can also often get composted soil for free from your local gardening center. You may need to heat treat this material before using it inside, however. You may not want to use your primary, indoor appliances, but if you have access to a second hand pressure cooker or microwave to allot to gardening purposes, you can treat soil for a variety of viruses and other pests in this manner.
4. Grow from Seeds:
Starting your indoor garden from seeds is an economical way to expand your plant collection. Seed packets are often much more affordable than fully grown plants, and the process of germination is a fun experiment and fulfilling experience. When getting started, choose varieties that are suitable for indoor cultivation and are known for their ease of germination.
DIY seeding trays are a great project to make either for yourself, or to give as a gift!
Crafting the ideal potting mix for sprouting seeds involves combining well-aerated components like peat moss or coconut coir with a light medium such as perlite or vermiculite. This blend ensures proper drainage and provides a nurturing environment for delicate seedlings to establish strong root systems. Fill pots with this mixture, after ensuring the containers have drainage holes in the bottom. Place these pots in a tray, to allow you to bottom-water the plants.
The Vita™ Grow Bulb is a perfect addition to any seeding tray setup. With its sunset spectrum and included timer, you can ensure all sprouting seeds will receive optimal light.
5. Focus on Cuttings:
A cost-effective and sustainable method to populate your indoor garden is by collecting plant cuttings. This not only saves money but also allows you to share the joy of gardening with friends and family.
Alternatively, you can share your plant cuttings as gifts with fellow green thumbs, to help them grow their own plant collections! Curating a collection of beautiful and desirable foliage is really the gift that keeps on giving!
How to Collect Plant Cuttings
Starting plants from seeds can be challenging due to environmental conditions, susceptibility to diseases, the need for consistent care, and other factors such as these. It demands patience, attention to detail, and a nuanced understanding of each plant's unique germination requirements.
Propagation is an exciting alternative to seed starting, and collecting plant cuttings is a fantastic way to get started. Expand your indoor garden, and connect with fellow plant enthusiasts with this step-by-step guide on how to do it:
1. Choose Suitable Plants:
Look for plants that are known for their ease of propagation through cuttings. Pothos, philodendrons, and succulents are excellent choices for beginners. Select healthy parent plants with robust growth to ensure successful propagation.
Tip: Where to start when sourcing plant cuttings?
Propagating is a simple method of cost effectively growing plants, without having to start from seed. So, why don’t more people take advantage of this method? Well, it can be difficult to find a source to provide these cuttings. Here are five places to start looking when beginning your indoor gardening journey!
1. Friends and Family:
- Reach out to friends, family, or neighbors who are avid gardeners or plant enthusiasts. They may have a variety of plants and be more than willing to share cuttings, fostering a sense of community and shared passion for indoor gardening.
2. Local Plant Swaps or Garden Clubs:
- Attend local plant swaps or join garden clubs in your community. These gatherings often provide excellent opportunities to exchange cuttings with fellow enthusiasts. It's a cost-effective way to diversify your collection and discover new plant varieties.
3. Nurseries and Garden Centers:
- Some nurseries or garden centers may sell plant cuttings or allow you to take cuttings from certain plants with permission. Establish a relationship with local nurseries and inquire about the possibility of gathering cuttings, especially if they have excess growth or trimmings.
4. Online Plant Communities:
- Join online plant communities on social media platforms or gardening forums. Many plant lovers are eager to share cuttings with fellow enthusiasts. Participate in discussions, express your interest in specific plants, and you may find members willing to send cuttings through mail or local meet-ups.
5. Botanical Gardens or Arboretums:
- Some botanical gardens or arboretums host events or workshops where participants can take home plant cuttings. Additionally, these institutions may have propagation programs or surplus cuttings from their collections that they're willing to share. Check their schedules or reach out to inquire about such opportunities.
Now that you have acquired cuttings, begin to undertake the rest of the propagation process…
2. Gather Supplies:
All you need are clean, sharp scissors or pruning shears, small pots or containers, and a rooting medium. Consider using a mix of perlite and vermiculite, or a water propagation method depending on the plant species.
3. Take Cuttings:
Select a healthy stem with several nodes (the points on the stem where leaves and roots emerge). Using your scissors or pruning shears, make a clean cut just below a node. Aim for a cutting that is 4-6 inches in length, with a few leaves intact.
4. Remove Excess Leaves:
Trim away any excess leaves, leaving only a couple of leaves at the top. This helps reduce moisture loss and encourages the cutting to focus on root development.
5. Rooting Medium:
Dip the cut end of the stem into a rooting hormone powder if available (though this is optional), and plant the cutting into the prepared rooting medium. Water the cutting lightly.
6. Provide Adequate Light and Humidity:
Place the pots in a location with bright, indirect light. Maintain a consistent level of humidity by covering the pots with plastic wrap or placing them in a humidity dome.
7. Monitor and Transplant:
Keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. After a few weeks, you'll notice roots developing. Once the roots are well-established, transplant the cuttings into your chosen containers with potting mix.
8. Share the Joy:
As your cuttings grow into healthy plants, share the bounty with friends and family. This not only spreads the joy of indoor gardening but also adds a communal and thrifty aspect to your green journey.
Collecting plant cuttings is not only a cost-effective way to grow your indoor garden but also a sustainable and communal practice. It connects you with fellow plant enthusiasts, fosters a sense of sharing, and adds a personal touch to your indoor oasis. Embrace the social aspect of gardening, while you also watch your indoor garden thrive without draining your wallet.
Established Plant Care
Now that your plants are rooted, some issues may still arise which threaten their health. It may seem like the only option is to reach for whatever bottle is stocked on the hardware store shelf, but there are other choices to treat these issue! We will go over some homemade remedies to help you save!
Not only are insecticides expensive, they are also full of harsh chemicals. Organic insecticides can be even more expensive than their in-organic counterparts. Make your own, with common household ingredients.
- 1 quart (about 1 liter) of water
- 1 teaspoon of mild dish soap (without bleach or strong chemicals)
- 1 garlic bulb, minced
- 1 small onion, minced
- 1 tablespoon of cayenne pepper
- Combine the minced garlic and onion in a bowl.
- Add the cayenne pepper to the garlic and onion mixture.
- Pour the quart of water into the bowl.
- Let the mixture steep overnight, allowing the ingredients to infuse into the water.
- Strain the liquid to remove solid particles, leaving you with a liquid solution.
- Add the teaspoon of mild dish soap to the strained liquid and mix well.
- Pour the solution into a spray bottle.
How to Use:
Shake the spray bottle well before each use, and spray the insecticide directly onto affected plants, focusing on both the tops and undersides of leaves. Apply the solution early in the morning or late in the evening when the sun is not too harsh.
Creating homemade houseplant fertilizer is a cost-effective and sustainable way to nourish your indoor greenery.
- 1 gallon (about 4 liters) of water
- 1 tablespoon of Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate)
- 1 teaspoon of baking soda
- 1 teaspoon of household ammonia (optional)
- 1 teaspoon of molasses or corn syrup (optional)
- Fill a gallon-sized container with water. If possible, use filtered or dechlorinated water to avoid harming beneficial microbes in the soil.
- Dissolve 1 tablespoon of Epsom salt in the water. Epsom salt provides magnesium, which is essential for chlorophyll production and overall plant health.
- Mix in 1 teaspoon of baking soda. Baking soda helps balance the pH levels in the soil.
- Optional: If your plants need an extra nitrogen boost, you can add 1 teaspoon of household ammonia. However, be cautious and use this sparingly to avoid over-fertilizing.
- Optional: To encourage beneficial soil microbes, add 1 teaspoon of molasses or corn syrup. This ingredient is optional but can enhance the soil's microbial activity.
- Stir the mixture well to ensure that all ingredients are fully dissolved.
- Pour the homemade fertilizer into a separate container or watering can for easy application.
How to Use:
Water your houseplants with this homemade fertilizer solution once a month during the growing season (spring and summer). Reduce frequency during the dormant season. Ensure the soil is moist before applying the fertilizer to prevent any potential stress on the plant's roots. Apply the fertilizer as you would with regular watering, adjusting the quantity based on your specific plant's needs.
Remember, moderation is key. Over-fertilizing can harm your plants, so it's crucial to observe their response and adjust the frequency and concentration accordingly. Always test on a small area first, especially if you have sensitive or finicky plants, and discontinue use if you notice any adverse effects
Building the Best Setup
Finally, once you have established your plants and ensured their long term health, you must decide how you wish to display them. Of course, you can simply place plants on tables or in pots, but if you’ve grown your collection with our thrifty tips, you may want to consider a new system and setup for them!
Don’t worry about breaking the bank, though, you can still create a stylish new design without stacks of cash! Soltech loves to see the variety of indoor greenhouses our customers create in their homes. You can invest in a cheap grow tent, or a glass cabinet to cultivate your rooted cuttings. Add a Grove™ LED Grow Bar Light to the shelves to ensure your propagated plants receive the optimal light. You can also include a humidifier to make sure your plants receive optimal moisture, or consider creating a pebble tray. This is a cheap way to humidify your plants, and you can even personalize it. Find your own unique collection of pebbles, aquarium rocks, or glass baubles.
As you can see, there are a wealth of options to get started indoor gardening on a budget! Houseplants are a hobby, and a decor element. Share the love and get involved in this community, and see your life flourish while keeping your bank account happy, too!