Fiddleleaf Fig Care

March 10, 2019

Fiddle-leaf figs, one of the most popular houseplants today, are actually large trees in their natural environment. Make sure to provide a container that has at least a 5-gallon volume, but you may need to increase the size as your fiddle-leaf fig plant matures.

There is no cooler houseplant than the fiddle-leaf fig.
PC: Leslie F. Halleck

These plants need to be watered once every week. If yours is 5 to 7 feet tall, give it about a quart (1 liter) of water. If yours is larger, it will need about a gallon (4 liters). Make sure the soil always remains slightly moist.

New BOOK! Gardening Under Lights: The Complete Guide for Indoor Growers


Grow Kale

March 9, 2019

Kale, or leaf cabbage, refers to several varieties within the species Brassica oleracea. Many are beautiful ornamental kales that can serve dual purpose in an edible landscape, offering a variety of foliage colors and textures.

PC: Ball Horticultural Company

Want to grow kale indoors? Keep in a cool location and use lower-heat grow lights such as LEDs, HOT5 Fluorescents or CFLs, versus HID lamps. You can grow kale and related leafy crops under shorter light periods of 11-13 hours to discourage bolting, or grow them under longer photoperiods of 14 to 16 hours to boost production- but you'll need to harvest more quickly.


Grow Lamp Distance From Plants

March 8, 2019

You can place cooler-running lamps, such as fluorescent and LED, much closer to your plants, at about 6 inches, or the equivalent of a 150-watt HPS lamp.

PC: Leslie F. Halleck

These peppers and tomatoes are growing several feet below a 315-watt CMH lamp – it’s the perfect distance for this growing environment and these plants. Everyone is happy.

Gardening Under Lights Book


Ladybug Larvae Eat Whiteflies on Citrus

March 7, 2019

Ladybug larvae are ferocious predators of pests such as aphids and whiteflies. Somehow ladybugs managed to find their way indoors when my citrus plants have whiteflies.

PC: Leslie F. Halleck

If you are pesticide free, you can employ beneficial insects in both outdoor and indoor operations. Do not expect beneficial insects to persist long term in an indoor enclosed space; eventually their food and water will run out and they will die off.

Gardening Under Lights Book


Tips for Growing Oregano

March 6, 2019

Oregano is a hardy and easy-to-grow perennial herb. It provides the signature flavor for many Italian and Mediterranean dishes.

PC: Ball Horticultural Company

You can plant perennial oregano any time during your outdoor growing season, and it will remain evergreen in warm climates. In cold climates, foliage may die back, but plants will return from the roots. You can grow oregano in containers indoors year-round in bright light, with supplemental light from grow lamps. Keep flowers pinched and harvest foliage regularly to keep plant rejuvenated.

New BOOK! Gardening Under Lights: The Complete Guide for Indoor Growers


Counter-top Plant Growing Systems

March 5, 2019

If you simply want to keep a single houseplant or a blooming orchid in your office or living room, you need only a single smaller spotlight fixture. A small crop of leafy greens, microgreens, or herbs is also simple to light with a small-footprint fluorescent or LED setup.

Counter-top growing systems allow you to tuck small greens and herbs into your kitchen or office.​​
PC: Homestead Gardens

Many self-contained home-growing units are already complete with full-spectrum LED lamps for growing seedlings and microgreens, appropriate for use on a counter-top.

Gardening Under Lights Book


How to Water Orchids

March 4, 2019

If you grow orchids under lights indoors, you might be wondering how to get watering just right. While each type of orchid prefers slightly different watering levels, and can have different seasonal water needs, generally speaking your goal is to saturate all of the growing media around the plant's roots as well as provide increased oxygen to the root zone.

Dracula orchids should never be allowed to dry out.

Basic rule of thumb? Water common orchids once per week with tepid water. It is best to run water slowly over pot and roots for several minutes. Make sure you don't let pots sit in water that has collected in a tray. By using running water, you'll also deliver more oxygen to the roots.

Some orchid species, such as the cute little Dracula sp. in the photo need to stay consistently moist ALL the time. Other orchid species need to dry a bit between waterings.

Orchids also need a good fertilizer regimen. But how you fertilize, and when you fertilize, also depends on the species of orchid. Be sure to research your orchid species for ideal timing and rates of an orchid fertilizer.

What about ice for watering orchids? I'm not a fan and I don't do it. Why? Many mass commercially produced orchids, such as moth orchids (Phalaenopsis), are grown in heavily packed sphagnum moss in solid plastic pots. This is not ideal for long-term growth for such epiphytic orchids - they'd be happier transplanted into a looser orchid medium with more air around their aerial roots. BUT, when you grow them in a more aerated environment with a loose orchid bark you do have to be more attentive to the weekly watering schedule and make sure you adequately moisten the bark, without standing water. So, watering orchids with ice is regularly marketed to consumers as an easier way to keep orchids planted in heavy moss watered in a way that doesn't cause excess water to build up in those non-porous containers. Make sense?

While some recently published research didn't find direct detrimental effects from using ice, I have on a number of occasions observed orchids in bloom, or developing flower buds, suddenly drop flowers and buds after being shocked with ice cubes. Probably because the plants may have been a bit stressed already, or weren't getting regular moisture consistently (or enough light) - there are many factors. That's anecdotal, but it's my observation.

My translation: When your orchids are potted improperly ice can be a way to maintain them...if you want to pot your orchids properly, a traditional watering method is better- in my horticultural opinion.

Get my BOOK! Gardening Under Lights: The Complete Guide for Indoor Growers


LED Grow Lights for Large Houseplants

March 3, 2019

If your houseplants are struggling, it's probably due to a lack of light. When you're growing specimen houseplants, such as large tropicals, you might need to provide some supplemental light. Specimen plants can be lighted with spotlight grow lamps--like the double barrel LED lights below.

PC: Soltech Solutions

Try growing foliage plants in one part of your home or office. If they are just not thriving, move them closer to an ambient light source. If that still doesn’t do the trick, add artificial light or switch to a lower-light species.

New BOOK! Gardening Under Lights: The Complete Guide for Indoor Growers


Back to top

Tips in your inbox

E-Newsletter

Sign up for the E-Newsletter for my latest green industry news updates for pros + plant and gardening hobbyists.