Plants are super-organisms that not only let us breathe, but actually have the ability to reduce our pain levels and anxiety. Plus, they brighten their surroundings. So it’s only natural (pun intended) to want to fill your home with them. But if you wanted a large plant to be the center of your home, could you grow a tree directly from the floor of your house? Some eye-catching Instagrams of just that got us wondering how possible it is. While it may seem like a daunting endeavor, it turns out it's entirely possible, according to Kristin Monji, a certified arborist, horticulturist, and the principal landscape designer of Birch & Basil Design. Though, she warns, “it will take some doing and a unique set up.” So here’s what you should keep in mind if you want to plant a tree inside your home.
Ensure proper drainage.
If you want to grow a tree indoors, Monji says the most important thing you need is adequate drainage. Below the soil, there needs to be at least several inches of some type of drainage material like clay pebbles. By draining the water away from the tree’s roots, the drainage material drains prevents them from being completely saturated when it’s watered. It also allows them and the rest of the tree to dry out in between waterings.
Choose your tree based on natural light.
Light is food for plants, so the direction your windows face is the key to determining which type of tree is compatible with your home. If you have east-facing or south-facing windows, your room gets a good amount of natural light, so “any variety of ficus tree will do well,” says Monji. For rooms with west-facing or north-facing windows, a Dracena reflexa or a Natal Mahogany will work better since they need less light than ficuses. Monji also recommends using an app called Plant Light Meter to measure the amount of light levels in your home.
The tree’s age matters.
Once you’ve determined the type of tree that is suitable for your home, it’s important to keep how old it is in mind. You’ll want one that’s still young enough to be able to adapt to a new environment. Monji points out that different types of trees reach a mature size at different rates, but, in general, she says that a tree less than 10 years old would be ideal.
Use the right soil.
Since the tree won’t be exposed to rain and other water sources outside, the type of soil you use needs to be an indoor mix. You can’t use outdoor garden soil because it won’t hold onto moisture for a long enough time. Instead, Monji says to use a well-balanced potting mix that will hold retain moisture for longer.
Make sure you can care for every part of your tree.
Properly caring for your tree means watering it the right amount. For a large tree, let the top 3 to 4 inches of soil dry out before watering it again. If your tree’s roots are fairly deep, Monji recommends using a soil probe. It’s a simple tool that allows you to get about a foot down from the surface, take a sample, and see whether the soil is dry or saturated down there. Along with the roots, it’s also important to water every part of the tree. If you have a large tree, make sure you have access to its canopy so you can dust and mist the foliage. You’ll also need to reach the top of the tree to monitor for pests. This means you may need a ladder.
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