How to care for indoor plants: succulents, ferns and mosses

Those who have spent time at The Pioneer Collective know indoor plants are part of the decor. Caring for plants and gardening have been linked to healthier lifestyles and longevity. In the world's Blue Zones,  where people live longest, (Okinawa, Japan, Sardinia, Italy, Loma Linda, California, Nicoya, Costa Rica, and Ikaria, Greece) tending a garden is a common activity among inhabitants. Inspired by flora rich urban environments such as Barcelona, here at TPC we are striving to bring the outdoors in. Below we have compiled a list of care tips for indoor plants based on our experiments at TPC.

Succulents

  1. Succulents do not need a lot of water
    • Water when soil is dry to the touch. In our northwest climate, this equates to roughly 1x/week in the summer and 1x/month in the winter. A sprayer and/or watering can are the most effective way to avoid overwatering. The thicker the leaves on the succulent, the more water they need.
  2. Succulents love sunlight
    • Succulents prefer six (6) hours of sunlight per day. Keep succulents near windows. Harsh, direct sunlight can cause succulent sunburns so be wary of south facing windows. 
  3. Succulents need well draining soil
    • Use cacti or succulent soil, or, modify regular soil with grit or coarse sand.
  4. Problem signs
    1. Plant sulking = not enough sun
    2. White crust = mineral build-up likely from tap water. Try collecting rainwater to use instead.
    3. Black/rotting stems & wrinkled leaves =  overwatering
    4. Shriveling and no new leaves = underwatering
    5. Mealy bugs: apply rubbing alcohol to their furry white homes
  5. Want more? Propagate!
    1. When plants begin stretching or become leggy, pop off some of the bottom leaves making sure to get the entire leaf from the stem.
    2. Allow each leaf to dry out in indirect sunlight for a couple of days before relocating to new pot.
    3. Using cacti/succulent or well draining soil, place the old leaf on top of the soil and spray with water infrequently.
    4. Once pink roots form, you have yourself a new succulent to begin caring for all over again!

Ferns

  1. Keep soil moist, not wet
    • Ferns like humid, moist environments so their soil needs to reflect this. Ferns should be watered and misted regularly, though they should not sit in water. Soft, tepid, H2O satisfies ferns best. Keep plants away from fans or vents that could dry out air conditions.
    • If you want to create a natural humidifier for your fern, place a tray or container with wet pebbles underneath your potted fern. Add a little water to the pebbles regularly without letting the fern pot get wet. 
  2. Find indirect light
    • Ferns like low light conditions. Direct sun can cause leaves to die or turn yellow. Too little light can also cause fronds to yellow. North facing windows are best, and direct, harsh sunlight from south facing windows should be avoided.
  3. Use free draining soil
    • Porous, organic compost or soil is best. Including peat moss is particularly beneficial. The soil should never dry out. Adding moss or mulch around the base of the plant can help keep moisture in.
  4. Keep ferns happy
    • Cut back damaged fronds to encourage new growth
    • A dd a light fertilizer 

Mosses

  1. Mist moss regularly
    • Mosses thrive in moist soil. They do not however, need a lot of water at any given time. Therefore, misting versus watering is the preferred method for quenching their thirst. The container you choose to grow your moss in does not need to have a drainage hole, assuming you do not overwater.
  2. Mosses prefer shade
    • Most mosses do not need direct sunlight and do well in the shade. They do vary depending upon the species though, so take good notes on where your particular species seems to do best.
  3. Moss gardens are simple to create
    • As far as soil, mosses do not have roots so their soil needs are not as particular. Simply use a layer of crushed stone or gravel in the base of your vessel to allow water drainage. Add a top layer of potting soil and you have yourself your moss garden home. Arrange moss however you like and feel free to add any stones or other plants you find appealing!