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8 Common Mistakes in Interior Planting

8 Common Mistakes in Interior Planting

Article by Eleni Tsirintani We take a look at 8 common mistakes people make in Interior Planting. Interior planting is perceived mostly as a different way to decorate and improve interior space. Well, it should not be thought of that way. Whether it is an arrangement of pots or a vegetated patio, interior planting represents a living system with needs and ways of its own that could contribute important benefits, both in terms of function and aesthetics in everyday life. What should one — professional or not — bear in mind in order to have a vigorous and beautifully vegetated space indoors? In this article, we discuss what to avoid when planting indoors, and thus provide a guide on what to do to succeed in such a scheme. The following mistakes when planting indoors concern both the phase of construction as well as further handling and maintenance.

Image: The Palm House (1844-8) by Decimus Burton and Richard Turner, Kew Gardens, London. Photo credit: By Steve Cadman, via Flickr. SA-CC 2.0

Image: The Palm House (1844-8) by Decimus Burton and Richard Turner, Kew Gardens, London. Photo credit: By Steve Cadman, via Flickr. SA-CC 2.0

Interior Planting

Mistake 1: People Do Not Do Any Interior Planting Confined spaces, lack of information, and limited free time leave the areas where we spend a good portion of our life deprived of plants and the benefits they could offer. Contemporary architecture works toward a more sustainable and ecological approach, and it attempts to incorporate planting to the creative process. New technologies offer the means to create beautifully vegetated spaces no matter what the conditions are. So there is only one thing to be done: Go for it! There is always a “trial and error” period, but it could prove extremely beneficial and create a new field for interior landscape architecture to evolve.

Image: The Plants of Civic Media. Photo credit: By J. Nathan Matias via Flickr, SA-CC 2.0

Image: The Plants of Civic Media. Photo credit: By J. Nathan Matias via Flickr, SA-CC 2.0

Mistake 2: Wrong Plant Selection We could never expect a palm tree to thrive in Antarctica. Why should every plant grow indoors? Site specificity is a “must” when planting in an interior space. The characteristics of plants that could actually grow in an interior space are the following: a. Moderate to low light needs – This is evident since no artificial illumination could actually match the intensity of sunlight. b. A “disciplined” root system – Plants with growing and expanding root systems won’t thrive in the confined space of a container or a built planter. They could actually cause problems, such as wall penetration, that are hard to control and handle. Such issues could be easily avoided by simply choosing the right plant. c. Low Humidity Tolerance – The air in interior spaces is low in humidity, and sometimes it proves too dry even for people. Plants should be resilient to low humidity in order to adapt and perform well in the specific environment.  
Image: dentist office plants. Photo credit: By Anthony Easton, via Flickr. SA-CC 2.0

Image: dentist office plants. Photo credit: By Anthony Easton, via Flickr. SA-CC 2.0

Mistake 3: Low Luminosity Light is imperative for plants to grow, through the process of photosynthesis. Even shade-tolerant plants grow better when there is a little light for a short period of time every day. There is a wide range of luminaires special for plant growth. There are also light reflectors that function in a complementary way with the luminaires for better results. One should consider luminaire density and intensity as well as adequate distance from the foliage in order to provide the necessary luminosity without damaging the plants. Mistake 4: Drainage and Infrastructure Issues Plants are not supposed to grow indoors. This fact dictates that we have to create the right conditions for planting inside. It means designing and constructing a totally new ecosystem from scratch. This would involve: a. Creating the Appropriate Ground – Soil quantity and quality is vital for this scheme. The adequate depth of the planted surface according to plant size and density is crucial. Remember that plants grow toward the sky — and toward the earth, as well. They will not survive unless you give them space in both directions. Soil quality is also important. There are soil-mix types appropriate for planting indoors that ensure great results. b. Drainage – Making a planted surface out of nothing means you must also consider that excess irrigation water should not remain in the planting bed. This is a very common way to lose plants when planting indoors. There should be extra care taken when it comes to water management issues. c. Waterproof – No matter how successful indoor planting is, humidity damage to walls and roofs is not allowed. Planting should be integrated in the built environment, not function against it. Mistake 5: Low Planting Density Beautiful interior planters are lush and densely planted. From my professional experience, plant arrangement should be almost twice as dense as in the same area outdoors to achieve such a result. WATCH >>> : Grow Lights Explained CFL LED and HPS easy and cheap to efficient and expensive

Mistake 6: Handle Interior Planting as Decoration and Forget the Important Benefits of Plants Planting indoors could contribute significantly to air purification, because plants produce oxygen, absorb carbon dioxide, and improve the indoor microclimate altogether. There have been research studies indicating that indoor plants in health facilities and in working spaces provide important psychological benefits for patients and workers. Considering interior planting from this perspective could provide a whole new approach to how we work with and design such schemes. WATCH >>> 5 Surprising Health Benefits of Indoor Plants

Mistake 7: Neglect Plants After Installation As previously stated, planting indoors means creating a whole new living system from scratch. Therefore, maintenance and care are twice as important. Rain, natural soil, sun, and fresh air make maintenance easier when planting outdoors. Unfortunately, this does not apply to interior spaces. The conditions and care for indoor plants should not be neglected after installation. Thorough observation and proper care according to plant needs and space conditions will ensure that your plantings will survive and thrive indoors. This leads to the final mistake people make when planting indoors:

Image: Planter. Photo credit: Michael Cory, via Flickr, SA-CC 2.0

Image: Planter. Photo credit: Michael Cory, via Flickr, SA-CC 2.0

Mistake 8: Not Apply Special Maintenance Principles Even when there is constant care and handling of indoor plants, indoor plantings can still fail. That’s because the maintenance principles for an outdoor garden do not apply here. For example:

  • Watering during winter should be increased indoors. This is important because heating causes low humidity levels and soil becomes dry more frequently. We would never consider this when it comes to planting outdoors.
  • Provide ventilation all year round. Would you ever think of providing plants with fresh air? Well, you should if they are enclosed in a room.
  • Clean those leaves. The benefits of rain for plants go beyond just watering them – rain also keeps them clean. When it comes to indoor planting, this is something we have to do ourselves.
  • Planting indoors could become a new exciting field for design and experimentation.

Have these commons mistakes caused your indoor plants to wither and die? Go to comments Recommended Reading: 

Article by Eleni Tsirintani

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