How to Choose Best soil for Your Houseplants

How to Choose Best soil for Your Houseplants

It does not matter you grow plants indoors or outdoors. The quality of soil and fertilizers is crucial to plant health. For healthy perfect plants, you need to use the best soil for plants. It should have good drainage properties, free of diseases, loosely packed.

Give clean freshwater and good quality nutrients to grow healthy plants in best plant soil.

Selection of the Right soil keeps the production cost low and gives you fresh herbs and vegetables at a lower cost than the supermarket.

Choosing soil for your indoor garden is a tuff job. It seems easy to just grab any soil from the garden store and use it in your plant pots and containers.

But in reality, you need to consider many things while choosing soil for your indoor plants.

In this article, you will learn 3 methods of choosing the best soil for your indoor garden.

Methods no.1: Consider Your Plant Needs

Identify your plant needs

The first step in choosing the best soil for plants is to identify the requirements of your plants. You can go online and search for the plants’ needs or read the plant growing book or ask while buying any plant from the local nursery.

This way you will know about the specific needs of your plant and further you can use the information to choose the best soil for plants.

Try to know about the following things.

The amount of humidity that your plants like to grow in. For example, plants that are native to deserts like cactus needs sandy potting soil with excellent drainage properties. Whereas plants native to tropical rain forests want moist soil for 365 days.

Secondly consider the pH level of the plant soil because different species of plants need different pH levels. For example, rain forest plants need more alkaline soil and others like acidic soil like African Violet 5.0 to 6.0 pH.

When you grow native plants, you can easily find the best soil for them. All you need to do is search online or ask the nursery attendant about the Optimum soil and pH requirements of the plant.

For native plants, you can use your normal garden soil, or for best growth mix some compost or manure in it.

Organic or Non-Organic Soil

By nonorganic soil, I mean the conventional potting soil. You need to understand the difference between organic and conventional soil. organic soil is made of organic materials whereas conventional soil has some traces of organic material.

Organic potting soil is best for the environment and you get organic vegetables when you use organic soil to grow. It has many organic bacteria in it so it is perfect for outdoor gardening but it is not suitable for indoor gardening. Because the bacteria in it release an unpleasing smell when they break down the fertilizers. This increases the chances of root rot and the formation of mold. The microorganisms in it are perfect to increase the fertility of outdoor garden soil.

Nonorganic soil contains nutrients and fertilizers that are made by humans as well as peat, manure, and some other good potting soil ingredients. This does not produce any smell and has excellent water drainage capabilities. Nutrients that are used to mix in non-organic soil are called synthetic nutrients.

Method No.2: Soil Weight

Lighter Potting Soil

Lightweight or loosely packed soil is best for hanging plants. It is also good for such plants that do not want direct sunlight. In simple words you should use lightweight soil for plants can be grown in indirect bright light.

For example Tropical rain forest plants

Heavy soil can spoil your hard work in a few days because this type of soil holds the water and nutrients for a long time. This increases the humidity level of the soil. the plants that do not like to live in high humid conditions start dying slowly.

Medium weight soil

Medium weight soil is always good for indoor gardening. Plants that required a good amount of light for a couple of hours per day, like to thrive in medium packed soil. This type of soil is best for plants because it holds a good amount of water and nutrients. Also has good draining properties to save plant form excess water. Medium weight soil absorbs the nutrients and holds them inside it to supply them to plant roots continuously.

Also, medium weight soil holds the plant firmly so that it can stand straight in pots.

Heavy or closely bound soil

Do not use this type of soil for any plant to grow because it is not the best soil for plants. Tightly packed soil retains the water and nutrient in high amounts. This does not allow excess water to drain quickly. This creates deadly conditions for plants and your plant will die in less than 4 days.

Tightly packed soil does not have air pockets which reduces the fresh airflow to plant roots. Also, the soil does not give room to plant roots to grow full size. Plants grow in such soil become stressed and at last, they die.

Method No.3: Fertilizer and Soil

Pre-fertilized soil

This type of soil is best to grow plants without experience. Because new growers do not have knowledge about fertilizing house plants. They often think that supplying a high amount of nutrients triggers health and faster growth.

But this not true at all. Excess nutrients can burn your plant; your plants will develop yellow leaves.

If you are new to gardening buy pre-fertilized soil. This soil has everything and you do not need to give fertilizers to your plants for the rest of plant life.

The best place to buy pre-fertilized soil is Amazon. In your local store, you will the soil at a higher cost. Because they make the soil at their place and this costs them many pounds.

Whereas the big manufacturer of gardening fertilizers and tools makes soil on a large scale. This keeps the production cost low and you get high-quality products at a low cost.

Check the following while buying Fertilized soil

You will see three numbers written in the soil bags like 20-10-10. This indicates the percentage of Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and potassium in the soil. Remember you need to choose a high amount of nitrogen because this is the essential nutrient that your plants need to develop green leaves and stems. 

Some fertilizers have trace elements like copper, zinc, magnesium, etc. The best fertilizer always has both micro and macronutrients.

Hydroponic Systems, Uses and Care steps

Hydroponic Systems, Uses and Care steps

Hydroponic systems are the easiest method of indoor gardening; it boosts the plant growth by 30% than soil

and give 50% more yield with low production cost.

Today I will share every single detail about hydroponic systems. The types of systems, working mechanisms, care routines, etc.

Let’s find out more about Hydroponic gardening.

What are hydroponic systems?

Hydroponics is a new method of growing plants indoors. This latest growing technique uses water to grow plants instead of soil. It is 100% possible to grow plants by supplying them only nutrient-rich water.

This system uses the nutrient-rich solution, all you need to do is take the normal tap water add the liquid nutrients in it, fill the reservoir with it and your system is ready to work.

The water pump pushes the water to circulate into the system. Plant roots get in touch with this water continuously. Roots absorb the nutrients when the plant demand from the roots to suck them from the water.

The remaining nutrient solution comes back into the reservoir. This circle goes continuously like this throughout the entire life cycle of a plant.

 Rockwool, clay pallet, hydroton is the main growing mediums that most of the growers prefer to use with Hydroponics systems.

Why hydroponics is a better method than traditional growing techniques?

This is the easiest method of growing plants indoors and is a low cost, low maintenance growing system with high efficiency and ease of use. It delivers the nutrients directly to the plant roots without any supporting medium.

In these systems, plants get nutrients and water at the same time with fresh oxygen.

The roots of plants remain smaller in size in hydroponic systems. This allows you to grow more plants at the same time in the same growing system.

Also, the system is designed in such a way that it can fit into the small spaces without any problem. The electric consumption of the hydroponic systems is very low and anyone can afford it.

Hydroponic plants grow at a much faster rate than soil grown methods.

Growing without using soil means growing hygienically which reduces the problem of pest attacks and keep the various diseases away from the growing plants. The entire system of the Hydroponics is automated, controlled by the timers.

The equipment you need to form an excellent hydroponic system is a one-time investment. So, you need to buy a branded hydroponic system from a reputed manufacturer. Don’t make the mistake of buying each piece of equipment separately this will cost you hundreds of Pounds.

Go to Amazon and choose the complete Hydroponic Kit according to your needs.

Types of Hydroponic systems in the UK?

You will be surprised to know that 5 types of hydroponic systems are available in the market that is perfect for Home growers. Sometimes people combine different hydroponic systems to form a hybrid growing system. But I do not recommend such kind of system. You can damage the parts if you don’t have hydroponic experience.

Below are the main types of hydroponics

DWC (Deep Water Culture)

This is the low-cost type of hydroponics and is also called the reservoir method. Because this hydroponic system uses a reservoir to store the nutrient-rich water. The roots of plants are suspended in the nutrient solution for entire plant life cycles. As we all know plants also need oxygen to grow therefore, an air pump is used to give oxygen to plant roots. The pump also creates bubbles in the water to keep its oxygen-rich freshwater.

Before using DWC Keep one thing in your mind that you have to completely seal the reservoir to prevent the light from entering into it.

Once the light gets to enters the container it triggers the formation of algae and contaminates the entire system. If this happens to you throw the nutrient water and cleans your system to start a new beginning.

Drip System

As the name suggests the system is based on the dripping system. No experience is necessary to grow with Drip hydroponic system. In this system, drippers are used to supply the water and nutrients to the plants.

Slow and Faster drippers are available. Fast drippers are made for commercial use and for home use slow dripping system is perfect.

In a slow dripping system, drippers give water to plants at a very slow rate. So, rockwool cubes and coco coir are the best growing medium to be used with this kind of system. Because both these growing medium holds the nutrients for a long time.

The problem with this Drip system is the drippers get clogged easily, you have to keep eye on them. This happens more often when we use organic nutrients for plants because organic nutrients have small nutrient particles that can clog the dripper pipes.

This problem reduces to a great extent if plants are feeding the synthetic nutrients. So, it is totally up to your choice. For organic nutrient supply do not use this system or if you do not have enough time for your growing system like people do busy jobs do not have time. Then do not choose a drip hydroponic system.

Nutrient Film Technique

When you have a large growing area then this system is best for you. In NFT continuous supply of nutrients is given to the plants. So that they can absorb more nutrients and oxygen from the system and grow fast.

 Only the tips of roots come in contact with the solution (this increases the oxygen intake of the plant which helps in photosynthesis).

Growers observe a faster growth rate after shifting to the NFT system. This technique is good for commercial gardening and home gardening.

Ebb & Flow

Ebb &Flow hydroponic system flood the plant roots with the sudden high amount of nutrients which drain at a very slow rate so that plants can absorb in meantime.

In this method instead of a continuous flow of nutrients, nutrient flow is controlled by a timer.

Here timer plays an important role in the efficiency of the system is highly dependent upon it. You can set the timer according to the type of your plant. Growing indoor is not an easy job number of growing methods make it hard to choose the best hydroponic system. But don’t worry I will help you to choose the best hydroponic system for your home garden.

Ebb & Flow is best to grow plants that required continuous supply of high amount of nutrients.

AEROPONICS

This is the latest and more advanced hydroponic system specially designed to grow herbs and salads. The technically advanced system gains stylish looks and inbuilt grow light. Aeroponics hydroponic system misted the roots with the nutrients while the roots are hanging in the air. It reduces the wastage of nutrients by up to 95 %.  Aeroponics does not require much maintenance. It is a costly system but is perfect to grow basil, mint, lettuce, etc.

Aero Garden is the reputed manufacturer of Aeroponic growing systems of different sizes. You have to pay a little extra for this technology but it comes with years of warranty and great customer support.

pH Level and Hydroponics

What is the pH level in Hydroponic systems?

pH stands for potential hydrogen level, maintain the pH level of hydroponics nutrients to grow healthy plants. pH is a measure that tells us about the acidic or alkalinity of a solution. For example, the pH level of water is 7 means water is neutral neither acidic nor alkaline. This pH scale starts from 1 and goes up to 14 pH levels. Reading below the number 7 indicates the acidic nature of the solution and the above readings mean the solution is alkaline in nature (no acids present).

Hydroponics gives more control over the pH levels as compared to the soil. When we grow in soil, we do not have options to adjust the pH level of soil but in hydroponics, it is extremely easy to up and down the pH of the nutrient-rich solution.

Normally the hydroponics pH level should be between 5.5 and 6.5. It is important to adjust the pH level because it affects the plant growth, the absorption rate of nutrients, and block the uptake of essential minerals and vitamins. 

What causes the sudden fluctuation in the pH level of hydroponic nutrients?

Plants do not absorb all nutrients at once sometimes they need more iron than copper or magnesium. When they absorb more ions of one material, they left positive or negative charges behind which increase or decrease the pH level in minutes.

These sudden changes in Hydroponic systems are normal and this happens to all soilless growing systems.

How to check pH reading in the Hydroponic system?

Checking pH is a very simple process. There are three different methods available to test the pH level of any solution.

STRIP METHOD

In this type of method, we use Litmus paper or Litmus strips to test the pH of the solution. Take out one strip and dip it into the nutrient solution. The strip will show a change in the color, match the strip color with the given guide and you will get the results. This method is not 100% accurate and we do not advise you to choose this technique to test your nutrient pH level. This method of checking the pH level is suitable for chemistry labs to educate students. Not helpful in real life.

pH solution

This method of pH testing is more accurate than litmus paper. A pH solution kit is required to test ph. Take out the nutrient solution into the beaker and add a few drops of this pH liquid into it. The solution will change its color, now match the color with the given color chart and know the pH level of your solution.

Again, this method is not 100% accurate.

Digital pH meter

This is the best way to test the pH of any solution. The meter gives you an accurate reading when you dip the diode into the solution and press the start button. With the digital reading you will know the exact value of pH

How to adjust pH UP and DOWN of Hydroponic solution?

Adjusting the pH of a solution is a very easy process. All you need to do is buy a pH-adjusting solution from the market and follow the instructions. This is the cheap and best method to control the acidic or alkalinity of a solution.

There are many other methods which help you to keep control over the ph. But those methods are not easy to use. Some required you to make a solution by yourself and for which you need to have a good knowledge of chemicals and their reactions after mixing. While other home-based methods are not reliable.

pH Up solution and pH Down solution is the only best way to increase and decrease the pH of solution easily in seconds. These read to use solutions are very affordable.

How to maintain your hydroponic system?

Maintaining your hydroponics systems is extremely important. Experts advise growing food in the well-cleaned area. Below are the main steps which you can follow in order to keep your soilless growing machine clean and effective.

The temperature of the nutrients: 65-75 degrees is the ideal temperature range for hydroponics nutrients. If due to some reason the nutrient temperature goes too high than the recommended limit it will result in root rot. In this condition, the roots of the plants rot which is a deadly situation for a plant and sad news for grower.

If the temperature goes below the right level, this results in a slower growth rate of the plant. This is the reason why people use water heaters inside the nutrient tank to keep the temperature under control in extreme cold weather conditions.

Change water

Many people ask us when to change the water in hydroponics. Personally, we believe one should change it bi-weekly if do not have an EC meter. EC meter is a digital meter that tells us about the percentage of fertilizers in water. It does not give information on individual nutrients; it just gives the overall reading of remaining fertilizers in the nutrient-rich water. Which is more than enough to check whether our plants are getting enough nutrients or is there something wrong.

If we do not change the water and remain it as it is then the chances of mineral build-up go up to 90%. So, it is best to change the water once every 2 weeks to avoid any discomfort.

Add or Clean Filter: If your system does not use a filter then add it to your system right now because it blocks the plant matter and debris from getting into the reservoir. Only DWC systems do not need filters.

Why it is important to clean your growing area?

The very first benefit of a cleaned grow room is you will get clean and healthy fruits. We all know eating healthy food is extremely important for human health.

cleanliness also improves the health of your plants. If we don’t keep the growing area neat and clean, this will invite many diseases and fungal infection. An only healthy plants can give healthy fruits.

Steps to sanitize and sterilize the hydroponic growing system

What are sanitation and sterilization?

SANITATION: Normal cleaning is called sanitation. This includes removing dead plant leaves, mopping up spills, removing stains, cleaning with water or soap.

STERILIZATION: It is the process that is used to kill bacteria and fungus and other harmful microbes. It is as important as sanitation in hydroponic.

NOTE: Remember many microbes are living in our atmosphere, not all of them harmful to our plants.

If you want to keep disease and pests away from your growing plants then sanitation and sterilization is the only option. Some people use Lysol to clean the area, it is good because this kills the bacteria but they forgot the sanitation.

Both the processes are highly recommended for indoor growing to avoid diseases and gain healthy foods for our loved ones.

Food grade Bleach and hydrogen peroxide are the best to use for sterilization. First, you have to decrease the reservoir or other nutrient supply pipes for which you can use any branded degreaser.

For those who like to eat and use organic products, they can use vinegar as a sanitation agent.

Do not add bleach into the system when you have a plant it this will damage it permanently. But you can add a little amount of peroxide because it will not affect your plant in any way.

How to clean a Hydroponic Grow Room?

Start your cleaning from the grow room. Clean the walls, floor and mats keep your working space clean and hygienic this will reduce the chances of a bacterial attack on plants.

Then clean your system and all equipment that you use to work with plants. For example, we use thermometers, scissors to cut the plants for cloning. Your scissor can spread the diseases to all of your plants if you do not clean them after every use.

Clean your complete system including water holding tank, drippers if you are using a dripping system.

DAILY MAINTENANCE ROUTINE for Hydroponic Growers

Hydroponics required some daily maintenance, follow the below-written steps will keep your system working for many years. There is a total of five requirements of plants that you have to take care of or monitor when growing them indoors (water, light, nutrients, temperature, and oxygen).

Monitor your system once a day or after a day this will keep your system healthy and efficient.

Daily Checklist

  1. Keep the humidity levels under control by giving them a nicer mist of water.
  2. Make sure there is no clogging in the system this will cause blockage and the system will shut down the nutrient supply which results in the death of plants. Small particles that form when we mix nutrients with water often block the supply pipes. So, keep eye on your hydroponics.
  3. Water has a tendency to evaporates, your nutrients solution also gets evaporates at high speed especially in summers. Add water to your reservoir on time to slow down the evaporation process and continuous the nutrient supply.
  4. Look at your plant and notice any sudden change, check the color of leaves if it turns yellow then there is something wrong with them.
  5. Check the intensity of grow light, if you are using LED grow light then you do not need to worry.
  6. Check the pH level of the nutrient solution.
  7. Keep tracks of temperature
  8. Check your ventilation system and duct fans
  9. Take a close look and monitor the health of your plants if notice any change in their behavior take action quickly.
  10. Give a continuous power supply to your growing system.