Ask a Palmers Expert: Katherine’s passion for indoor plants
What drives your passion for indoor plants?
How they can make you feel! Plants have the ability to change the aesthetics of a space and how you feel when you are in it. Be it be it your office, living room, bathroom or bedroom. Plants can add a softness to hard surfaces, provide height and impact in a room, introduce texture and colour and of course allow you to be creative with the containers you put them in. Knowing that behind the scenes they are hard at work breaking down toxins and nasties is an added bonus.
What do you feed your houseplants?
Tui Enrich Pots and Containers. It is a triple action fertiliser that works both instantly and then continues to deliver nutrients for the next six months. It has a blend of Osmoforte, controlled release fertiliser and Nova Tec fertiliser. You simply measure the diameter of your pot, take out the recommended quantity and sprinkle over the top of the mix. You know that your plants are getting all the nutrients they need without burning.
I love it for both foliage and flowering houseplants. As a treat I sometimes take home one of our beautiful orchids and for these I use Yates Thrive Orchid fertiliser. It is a balanced fertiliser with extra potassium helping to promote more and longer lasting flowers. I use this one weekly from Spring through to the end of Summer and being a concentrate a little goes a long way.
What advice do you have around watering houseplants?
Plants take practice, just like anything else. When it comes to watering, less is more. We find the fastest way to ill health in houseplants is overwatering, especially in winter. They are like us….nothing worse than cold and wet feet. It’s very difficult for a plant to recover from overwatering as opposed to underwatering.
Think about the environment your houseplant is from, if it’s a delicate fern that’s origins are a jungle in West Africa chances are it’s probably going to need a little more water that the Cacti that loves it’s origins of hot, dry and sun filled. Use your finger tips to determine if the soil is on the drier side or wet. Most house plants don’t like sitting in water so if your plants are in cover pots, make sure you tip out the water the gathers in the base regularly.
What are your top plants for rooms with low light?
There are a lot of plants suitable for low light or indirect sunlight.
The Zamioculcas or ZZ Plant is characterised by its thick waxy green leaves. It is a great air purifying option that can tolerate low light, making it a perfect plant for beginners.
Philodendron scandens – good for a hanging option in a low-lit corner of the room. The Philodendron scandens are fast growing, have matt green heart shaped foliage and will trail or grow up a supporting structure.
Spathiphyllum (Peace Lily) easy to grow and care for and better still in low light conditions although you may not get as many flowers their foliage will remain a deep dark green
What has been your (or your customer’s) greatest challenge when growing houseplants?
Not enough space! We have many customers who so look forward to seeing what new stock has arrived, only to then leave with a new treasure telling us they have no idea where they are going to put it! With apartment dwelling on the rise, the housing market unobtainable for some to get into and people wanting a sense of stability, plants can offer meaning and fulfilment in people’s lives. Plants help to make people happy.
What things do you do to control diseases and pests on indoor plants?
Check over your houseplants regularly and don’t forget the underside of the leaves where often the smaller pests dwell. Neem oil is a good all-purpose spray suitable for indoor use. Sprinkle Neem granules around the top of the mix to help to deter pests. Follow the recommended frequency as most insecticides/fungicides will require repeat applications.
Use a good potting mix like Tui Pot Power, that contains fertiliser, is seaweed enriched and also has SaturAid a wetting agent to spread water evenly over the root zone. All these components provide a great start to the health and well-being of your plants.
What are your favourite flowering houseplants and why?
Kalanchoe – their dainty but tough flowers last for months…and months. They tolerate bright light and warmth. A perfect little tabletop burst of colour.
Anthurium – again long-lasting flowers with bold colours that last longer than a bunch of flowers. Keep them fertilised over the warmer months and they will continue flowering.
Oncidium orchids – their common name is Dancing Lady and if you look closely at the flowers you can see why. The colour waves are fascinating peaches, browns, subtle yellows, pinks and plums. The tiny branches often arch over being smothered in dozens of delicate flowers.
What are your favourite foliage plants and why?
Maranta – Maranta is known for the unique up and down movements of its dramatic foliage. It rolls itself into a cigar shape and night then unfurls with daylight. It can tolerate low light & is air purifying.
Phlebodium Blue Star – I love the bluey grey leaf colour and the perfectly imperfect leaf structure
Monstera – robust, large leafed and easy care. I have had several for many years and love their reliability and endurance of long spells without attention!