10 Common Indoor Gardening Mistakes
Getting into gardening can be a rewarding and fun hobby, but there are some important things to consider. One can easily get into a lot of pitfalls, from those that may cause irritation to those that will kill your plant. My own mistakes in the garden have taught me a few lessons, and I hope to impart some of that knowledge to other gardeners. In the following list, you will find ten of the most common mistakes we’ve seen in regards to gardening, and how to avoid them!
Among the most common mistakes that beginners make is vastly overestimating what their plants need in terms of water. It can be easy to look at your plants and believe they need daily watering, but in many cases this isn’t the case! Almost all plants in moderately humid environments require no more water than once to twice a week. There are even those who need less.
The trick to determining whether it needs water is to check the soil and determine how moist it is. The first inch of soil of most plants won’t need to be watered until it is completely dry. There are certain plants that require certain care; so read up on the needs of your specific species before following this rule.
You should also pay attention to this during the winter months. Winter is a season during which most plants grow slower, so they require fewer nutrients. This includes water as well. During the cooler months, you should exercise extra caution before watering so as to prevent overwatering.
Another good tip, especially in dry environments, is to lightly mist the plants with water between waterings. Maintaining moist and healthy exterior leaves without soaking the whole plant is achieved with this method.
The problem with overwatering is that it can quickly lead to root rot. This occurs when the roots of plants sit in soil that is too highly saturated by water and the soil is too wet. The plant can eventually die as a result of this, so it’s important to watch out for it. It is best to prevent this from happening by using well-draining pots, as well as not over watering to begin with.
In the opposite direction from the previous point, many gardeners also under-water their plants. This can often be the result of simple forgetfulness, but it can also be due to a fear of overwatering. There’s a very easy way to attempt not to over water, and then accidentally fall under water!
Always check the soil, that is the best advice! You need to understand how wet the soil should be so that you are able to properly care for your plants. Check your soil on a daily basis when you first begin gardening. Though it’s likely you’ll get a good sense of how frequently you should water your plants after a while, it is a good idea to build good habits from the beginning.
Filling a Large Container In the Wrong Place
Filling a large container with soil and then attempting to move it is one of the more comical mistakes. In case you don’t know, dirt is very heavy…really heavy! The movement of a dirt filled container can be a hassle and the removal and replacement of dirt can be a huge burden. Make sure to fill your container where you want it to end up if you’re growing in a sufficiently large container. While not strictly an “advice” for gardening, I have encountered this situation enough times to want to warn you and spare you any embarrassment.
Not Enough Light
Putting plants in areas that receive insufficient light is another common mistake. Winter months are especially problematic due to the reduced intensity of light. The less intense rainfall during the cooler months can cause issues for your plants, even if it was sufficient during the summer.
Here knowledge is your best weapon. You need to know your plants and what they need. Different plants have different light requirements, and can even have different requirements depending on their current stage of growth or the season. Ensure you are providing your plants with the proper amount and types of light, and ensure that those needs are met all year.
Using grow lights is a great way to achieve that extra light. You can buy and operate them cheaply, and they provide an excellent way of supplementing your day with bright light.
Buying Sickly Plants
When you purchase the wrong plants, you’ll ruin your gardening plans before they’ve even begun. A weak or sickly plant is a surefire way to make things more complicated than they should be.
When purchasing high quality plants, you should purchase them from an established nursery. Plant care is the specialized expertise of a nursery, and they will most likely have the healthiest, pest-free, and most beautiful plants. Also, they are very knowledgeable about what they do, and will help you choose plants that will thrive in your specific environment. In addition to being more expensive than a big-box store, the help these companies offer is worth the cost for beginner gardeners.
When trying to stretch a budget a bit further, a larger chain store will likely be more affordable. In this case, however, the stock is likely to vary a bit more in quality, and the staff’s knowledge is likely to be more general. Make sure you examine any plants you intend to buy before you buy them. You can identify pests, wilting leaves, sickly stems, and other problems by looking for signs. If a plant is not looking 100%, it’s best to keep looking and hold off on buying it.
Using the Wrong Containers
It is often related to the size of the plant when people use the wrong containers. A small container generally limits your plants’ growth, preventing them from reaching their full potential. Additionally, this also applies to some species of plants that have unusually wide or deep roots. If you plant a deep root plant in a shallow container, its growth may be restricted. Once again, having a good understanding of the type of plant you have is imperative.
It is also common to skip the drainage holes when choosing a container. The problem often arises in containers such as mason jars or other decorated containers. The drainage holes in clay pots help them to prevent overwatering, which is why they have a lot of them. If these aren’t present, it will be very easy for your plant to overwater and die! You can either make your own drainage system if possible, or take extra precautions like filling the bottom with pebbles if your container doesn’t have good drainage.
In order for plants to grow well, good pruning habits are important and something newly-arrived gardeners are a bit hesitant about. Cutting off pieces from your plants may seem like a strange thing to do, but it actually stimulates the growth of your plant. The latter is especially true when removing dying or dead branches/leaves, as they are a prime target for pests.
Make sure you watch your plants carefully, and if the leaves begin to look ragged or weak, cut them back. Harvesting herbs, fruits, and vegetables regularly also falls under this category.
Not Using Fertilizer
The plants grown in natural soil outdoors tend to require more water and fertilizer than the plants grown in containers. When soil is watered, it is quickly washed away, and it typically does not have any nutrients in it. It is up to you to make sure your plants are getting the nutrients they need since they cannot be created naturally like outdoors.
Depending on the season and the plants, you will have to determine a fertilizing schedule. There are different needs for each plant, and some dormant plants do not require any supplemental feeding during the winter months. Take a look at your plant’s requirements and find out what it likes. For most plants, it is also important to repot on a regular basis. It is generally recommended that you change the soil in your plant container once a year to keep it fresh.
Having Different Plants in Similar Locations
This problem primarily affects beginner gardeners who buy a wide array of plants at the beginning of their gardening career. When all are placed in the same place and treated in the same manner, the problem really arises. It is important to understand that even plants that look similar may have different needs for light, water, and general care. Be sure to think about each plant when deciding the composition of your garden, and don’t, for example, keep all your plants in partial shade because one of them needs it.
Growing Too Much at Once
Beginners often make the mistake of being a bit too enthusiastic at first. As exciting as gardening may seem at first, it’s important to control your expectations and get started slowly. It is all too common for gardeners to buy a dozen different plants, then become discouraged when none of them grow well.
It is a well-known fact that gardening requires time, and the more plants you grow, the more time it takes. In addition, when you are growing from seeds that need special care, there is a greater need for it.
If you are a beginner gardener, the best advice is to start small and grow. Choose a few, maybe even three, of the same type of plants. Choosing plants with a similar care routine makes the process easier as well. Then, as your plants grow, gradually grow from there, leaving space between each plant!
I hope that this list will help you in your gardening endeavors and prevent you from repeating our mistakes. Even a novice can create a beautiful indoor or outdoor garden with a little perseverance!