Top Indoor Watering Tips to Make Your Life Simpler

If you want to be a success in gardening indoors, it’s important to understand that, no matter where you grow them, all plants must be provided with adequate water in order for them to turn into healthy specimens.

Incorrect watering is one of the major causes of indoor plants loss. Speak to people who have tried their hand with an indoor home garden and they will most likely tell you that they’ve lost a plant or two because they failed to learn this simple but vital skill.
Water plays a vital role in the growth cycle of plants by acting as a transport medium in getting nutrients from the soil to the roots. However, too much of it can be deadly particularly to potted plants. The excess water in the soil will push the air from the root zone, cutting off the distribution of oxygen to the plants and drowning them. On the other side of the coin, too little water will result in abnormal growth.

Unfortunately, there is no hard and fast rule to determine how often you should water plants that are grown indoors because there are so many variables: plant type, soil medium and container type all play a role in determining that. However, I have found these tips, not exhaustive by any means, to be very useful in implementing an effective watering strategy:

• Plants don’t all have the same water requirements. For example, succulents do not need a lot of water. However, you don’t have to become an expert to know when you should give your indoor plants water. Nowadays, it’s easy to find all the necessary information on the label of the seed packet (if you’re growing from seed) or the plant label (if you’re buying a potted plant).

• You can group several varieties of plants in the same pot but, if you do that, ensure that all of them have the same or similar water requirements. Otherwise, it’s going to be a bit of a nightmare keeping track of when to water them.

• If the growing pots are too small for your chosen house plants, be prepared to apply water more often. Hence, it’s a lot better to pick the right size container in the first place.

• Plants in clay pots will lose moisture quicker. On the other hand, pots fabricated from non-porous material such as metal, glass or plastic tend to retain water better and, therefore, be careful not to overwater.

• Use a premium potting mix to make sure that the plants drain properly. Poor drainage of the soil medium can result in an accumulation of soluble salts at the bottom of containers with saucers. This comes from the fertiliser. In excess, soluble salts can damage the roots of the plants. Empty and clean the saucer as well as flush out any salt visible in the soil at the bottom of the container.

When you are gardening indoors, the best guide for you to make certain that your plants get watered properly is to feel the soil. Insert your finger about an inch or so into the soil and, if it’s dry to the touch, then add water. However, if you don’t have enough confidence to do this, an excellent alternative is to use a moisture meter to do the job. No more guesswork. It will tell you exactly whether the soil is wet, moist or dry and, if you have large potted plants, that’s very handy.

Grow With Hydroponics

For those of you that are new to the concept, hydroponics is the growing of things without soil. This concept of hydroponics has been around for many years but has really taken off over the past fifty years or so. These days a large amount of the world’s food is grown using hydroponics. OK, we are discussing growing plants without soil which to some is a strange concept. The question that is first and foremost is why without soil? What is wrong with growing in soil? Which is better, hydroponics or soil? Well as with anything opinions vary. We here at grow-with-hydroponics side with soil-less growing.

Hydroponics gives us a number of advantages over soil. Hydroponic plants grow much faster than plants in soil, not to mention that the hydroponic plants give you lots more of what you want, flowers or fruit, than soil grown plants. What is the cause of this? Hydroponics allow the nutrients and water to go right into the root system of the plant while plants that grow in soil must seek out the water and nutrients that are present in the soil environment. The less effort a plant has to expend searching the more effort they can spend growing.

Lastly there are less opportunities for garden pests to attack and damage the hydroponic plants. Hydroponics is a method that the environmentalists love since it uses a lot less fresh water since you do not have to waste tons of water watering outdoor soil growing plants. Getting back to the garden pest part, we have less of a chance of pests so there is no need to use a tone of dangerous chemicals. These pesticides harm the earth and the humans involved. Hydroponics sure seem great don’t they?

We have discussed now that hydroponics grows plants without soil, so what in the world do they grow in? Well the growing medium used in hydroponics can vary based on the growers preference and the hydroponic growing system that the person is using. The main goal as we have stated is to make sure the water and nutrients are given the opportunity to reach the root system of the plants. Hydroton expanded clay pellets are a very popular medium that is used in ebb and flow hydroponic systems. Hydroton clay pellets make sure that there is good aeration for the roots so they prevent rotting. Best of all they are completely reusable, drain away excess water, lightweight and stay nicely spaced without compacting. Rockwool, perlite and vermiculite are also common mediums used in hydroponics.

When it comes to providing your hydroponic plants with the essential nutrients for life the same ideas are followed as with soil dwelling plants. Hydroponic plants will need basically the same thing as soil plants so the best thing to do is get a high quality hydroponic fertilizer. Elements that are present in good soil will also be provided for your plants when using a high quality hydroponic nutrient solution which can be purchased at your local hydroponic supply store. The hydroponic nutrient solutions on the market today come in both a powdered and a liquid variety. There are pros and cons to both the powdered and liquid varieties. The powdered are a bit cheaper but have to be measured well and you must make sure they dissolve fully. The liquid ones are a bit more expensive but dissolve very quickly and often have material that buffers the pH level in the solution.

Alright so you are ready to buy a hydroponic system for your needs. Do you get one that is active or passive? What is the difference. What is available out there. Well active hydroponic systems use a method, often a pump, to get the solution around.

Passive hydroponic systems rely on a wick to bring the growing solution to the growing medium such as slate, vermiculite, perlite, sand, rockwool or hydroton. The basic types of systems are the wick as explained earlier, the water culture type which is the most basic active hydroponic system, the ebb and flow type that floods the solution over the growing plants and then allows the excess to drain off, the drip system which drips solution directly on the base of the plants (this can be a recovery, collect the run off and reuse or non-recovery, not collect the run off,, lastly the nutrient film and aeroponic. I recommend researching all of these in order to find the type that will suit your needs the best since they all have pros and cons of their own.

Gardening Tips for April

Your lawn can now be given its spring feed. Lawn sand will give a general feed to the lawn and a granular Weed & Feed’ or ‘Weed, Feed and Mosskiller’ will do just that. First of all, just lightly trim your lawn with the lawn mower setting on high and then apply the granular feed with a lawn spreader. Care must be taken, especially with the lawn weed, feed and moss killer, to apply the recommended amount, as an overdose will burn your lawn.

Any rose bushes in the garden can now be pruned back. A good rule of thumb is to cut them back so that there are three buds showing on the stem. A feed can also be given, to help it during the growing season. Adding an organic mulch will increase water retention and promote growth.

For those gardeners with a vegetable plot, now is an excellent time to dig over the soil, remove any clay or hard areas of soil ready for the planting of your vegetables. Chicken manure is an excellent organic feed and very easy to apply. Normally sold in a pellet form and around £5 for a 6.75kg tub.

The ‘Green House’ can be washed down with a disinfectant, such as ‘Jeyes Fluid’, ready for any tomato plants and any young bedding that you might have.

Sharpen the lawnmower and give the lawn its first mow. Avoid always cutting the lawn in the same direction, as this will weaken the grass. Any holes in the lawn can now be filled with a fine soil or compost and then sown with a suitable grass seed. Remember to buy either fine or course seed, depending on your lawn type

Remove any weeds in the garden. This will stop them from germinating and cut down on weeding later on.

Outdoor Plants for April

Juniperus Communis ‘Repanda’

Juniperus Communis ‘Repanda’ Founded in Ireland, in the 30’s, by Maurice Prichard this variety is one of the best of the ground cover Junipers around. It’s dwarf habitat makes an effective carpet using it’s semi-prostrate leaves to create a thick matting effect. The loosely formed dull green leaves can become bronzed tinged in the winter thus creating an effective weed control and contrast in any garden. It’s eventual height is around 1.5 meters in diameter with a spread around 3 to 4 meters.

Junipers are fully hardy especially to winter frost, and grows with ease in any well drained soil. It thrives in a good sunny position but will tolerate a slight shady position in the garden. Little pruning is needed, however it is always best to prune out from underneath of the plant therefore creating a thinning out of the plant. Propagation can be rather slow as some seeds can take up to 5 yrs to germinate when planted in pots. The easiest method would be root ripewood cutting in September. The plants can be prone to twig blight, honey fungus and scale insects but once the symptoms are noticed, it can normally be cured.


The Magnolia Soulangiana is a variety that truly stands out during this time of year. It is probably the best and most popular of all the magnolias due to its acceptance of most positions and soil conditions. The variety was named after Monsieur Soulange-Bodmin who raised this variety in France during the early 19th Century.

The plant is usually seen spouting large wide spreading stems bearing tulip shaped flowers before the leaves during the end of April and early May. There are many varieties but the ones that stand out are ‘Alexandrina’ that bares large erect free flowering white flowers with a purple flush at its base. ‘Lennei’ has enormous goblet shaped flowers that have thick fleshy rose purple petals on the outside and a creamy white colour on the inside. This variety can sometimes flower again in the autumn depending on the climate. It was originated in Italy in the 1850’s and can become a main feature in any garden.

The plant is fully hardy but the flowers can become damaged by a sharp frost. Diseases can vary from Honey fungus to coral spot to scale insects but with normal garden care & maintenance one should have no problems.

Protecting Plants from Frost

There’s been a definite chill in the air today and here in the Lake District, it looks like we’ve seen the last of the warm weather.

It is a glorious time of year with the leaves on the trees beginning to turn lovely yellows, oranges and reds, and the fell sides becoming a mixture of greens, browns and oranges now that the bracken is dying back.

In the garden however there is work to be done!  Now is the time to put in place protection to keep plants healthy over the coming winter months.  Here are a few useful tips…

  • Don’t cut back tender plants, leave the old growth of plants unpruned through the winter. It might look tidier cut back but the old growth helps protect the crown of the plant.
  • Move any tender plants that are in pots under cover, or to a sheltered place such as by a wall and cover with fleece.
  • Wrap bubble wrap around pots which can’t be moved undercover to help keep the root-balls of plants healthy and to protect pots which are not frost-proof from cracking. Make a frame for the plant with canes, wrap around fleece and keep in place with clothes pegs or string.
  • Tender plants in the garden can be protected by covering with a thick mulch of leaves or straw.

Soil Maintenance

As soil wears out it is important to maintain it to keep its properties and structure. It is therefore necessary to regularly add organic matter which is consumed by the vegetation and which allows the soil to maintain a light, ventilated structure.

When Autumn comes, a thorough treatment of your soil, especially that of the vegetable patch, is needed. Turn the soil over, adding your homemade or organic compost which is available in the shops. Turf can also be used, as it decomposes slowly and therefore structures your soil for longer.

The decomposition cycle doesn’t operate in Winter. Bacteria get back in action with the first warm weather, when your plants need