This item is only available as the following downloads:
and Plant Selection
Personal plants ..........
Types of indoor gardens ..
Planter box ...........
Lighting systems .......
Selecting a location ......
Stocking the garden ......
Plant guide ...........
Plant designations .....
Setting the plants ......
Care of the garden .......
Training plants .........
Conditioned plants ....
General care ............
W watering .............
Special gardening ........
Hanging baskets .......
Plants for the beginner .
Other care ............
Other uses ..............
Air layering ............
This publication supersedes Home and Garden
Bulletin No. 187, "Indoor Gardens With Con-
trolled Lighting", issued May 1971.
Issued February 1978
For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office
Washington, D.C. 20402
Stock No. 001-000-0375S-7
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Artificial Lighting, Terrariums,
Hanging Baskets, and Plant Selection
Prepared by Henry M. Cathey, ARS Research Horticulturist'
and Lowell E. Campbell, ARS Agricultural Engineer-
You can grow and display many
kinds of decorative house plants in
your home by using an indoor
garden. People are realizing that
house plants-displayed in planters
equipped primarily with fluorescent
lamps-are an attractive asset and a
constantly changing decoration for
any space in the home. Much of this
popularity has been due to the pro-
duction, distribution, and varieties of
house plants that have been made
available to the consumer.
Most house plants are grown com-
mercially under a protective covering
in artificial growing media and fed
'Florist and Nursery Crops Laboratory.
Plant Genetics and Germplasm Institute, Belt-
sville Agricultural Research Center, Beltsville,
'Agricultural Equipment Laboratory. Envi-
ronmental Quality Institute, Beltsville Agricul-
tural Research Center, Beltsville, Md. 20705.
regularly with fertilizers. Care is
taken to see that plant diseases and
insect pests are controlled. A major
aim of the plant industry is to
broaden the range of plants-their
foliage and their flowering-which
can be grown successfully. They have
worked to develop easy-to-under-
stand care instructions for handling
the plants and to encourage the
installation of lighting facilities suit-
able for showing, acclimatizing, and
This accomplishment is made pos-
sible by cooperation between many
specialists. Florists must work with
engineers and lighting designers to
build the facilities for highlighting
and maintaining the plants. Interior
designers and architects must mix
plants aesthetically with other fur-
nishings. Growers and indoor gar-
deners must select both the plants
and the watering techniques to insure
the continued success of the plants.
TYPES OF INDOOR
Most house plants require light to
survive in indoor locations. If natural
light in the living space is insufficient
to help maintain the plants then arti-
ficial light must be used.
To grow plants satisfactorily in an
indoor garden one must remember
Water the plants thoroughly, but
only often enough to prevent wilting.
Fertilize the plants every 2 to 4
weeks while they are actively
Illuminate the plants with fluo-
rescent lamps 12 to 16 hours daily.
Fluorescent lamps have allowed
house plants to thrive in indoor gar-
dens-plants that barely existed
indoors before the development of
such light sources. These lamps have
many benefits: they give uniform illu-
mination and emit a minimum
amount of heat into the air, they are
available in a variety of shapes and
sizes, and they give the proper envi-
ronment for propagation of plants by
root cuttings, air layering, or seed-
lings. Whether the location has some
daylight, or little or no daylight, fluo-
rescent lamps provide the proper illu-
mination. (For details see p. 8.)
To determine whether adequate
light exists in a location, it is neces-
sary to use a light meter especially
designed for measuring artificial
lighting. For this, and other light
measurement details, see p. 18.
Plans for 11 types of indoor gar-
dens are shown in this bulletin.
Anyone who can use woodworking
tools should be able to construct an
indoor garden by following these gen-
PLAN A is for a garden about 4
feet long and 12 to 18 inches deep.
This long, narrow garden is most
useful in a dimly lighted corridor. It
will brighten as well as decorate the
corridor. This version of the indoor
garden may also be used as a room
divider. (See illustration on p. 5.)
PLAN B is for a free-standing,
round garden 14 to 18 inches in
diameter and 2 feet tall. It is used for
showing the flowers and foliage of
one or several potted plants. (See
illustrations on pp. 6, 7.)
PLAN C is for a table garden
about 3 feet tall, 2 feet long, and 1
foot deep. This garden can be placed
on almost any surface or hung on the
wall. It will light as well as decorate
and is designed for displaying small
plants such as African violets. (See
illustrations on pp. 8, 9.)
PLAN D is for a wall garden
about 7 feet high and 4 feet wide. The
garden can be placed on any open, wall
space and gives the appearance of a
window. It allows the attractive
display of hanging vines and potted
plants. (See illustrations pp. 10, 11.)
PLAN E is for a free-standing
light shell 5 feet tall and 4 feet wide.
This garden permits the display of
growing plants in various size con-
tainers and is suitable in halls, foyers,
kitchens, or playrooms. (See illustra-
tions on pp. 18, 19.)
PLAN F is for a tall, narrow
garden 6 feet tall and 2 feet square. It
has movable shelves and permits
starting and growing many small
plants. (See illustrations on pp.
PLAN G is a triangular planter
used for lighting plants of different
heights and diameters. This garden
consists of one U-shaped fluorescent
lamp 22 inches tall mounted on a tri-
angular-shaped platform that is 12
Corridor or foyer garden (Plan A) is most useful in a dimly lighted corridor. It can also be
employed as a room divider.
inches wide. (See illustrations on
pp. 24, 25.)
PLAN H, an angular table
planter, is for lighting a long plat-
form, 4 feet long, mounted with two
U-shaped fluorescent lamps, and
backed by plexiglass mirrors each
measuring approximately 30 x 10 x
28 inches with a folding panel. The
mirror increases the light intensity
available to the plants. The folding
panel permits the hanging of vines on
the front of the garden. (See illustra-
tion p. 32.)
PLAN I, an office planter, is for
lighting a restricted area of plants.
This is accomplished by placing two
U-shaped lamps on the two ends of a
three-sided box 30 x 10 x 28 inches.
The sides of the box are covered with
transparent plastic and the back of
the box is covered with a mirror to
reflect light. The top of the box is
open to permit larger plants to be
placed in the area. (See illustration
on p. 33.)
PLAN J is for a "window-on-
the-wall" type of planter made from a
A free-standing, round garden (Plan B) is used
for showing the flowers and foliage of one
or several plants growing in pots.
2 x 2 foot ceiling fixture, turned on
its side, with an 8-inch shelf mounted
on the front. The two U-shaped fluo-
rescent lamps are covered with a
translucent plastic panel. The fixture
may be mounted on the wall to allow
space for growth plants in the home.
(See illustrations on pp. 34, 35.)
PLAN K, "a garden center", is a
freestanding gardening area com-
bining side lighting from U-shaped
fluorescent lamps and mirrors to pro-
vide uniform illumination. Ballasts
and time clock are hidden underneath
the lighting area behind a folding
panel. Space is also provided for gar-
dening aids such as extra containers,
growing media, fertilizers, and other
items. (See illustrations on pp.
The planter box can be made of
soft pine or fir plywood painted to
match the walls in the room where it
will be used, or it can be made of
veneered plywood stained or oiled to
match the furniture with which it will
be displayed. Many kinds of wood
and wood finishes are available that
are suitable for planters.
Also, the planter box can be cov-
ered with one of the following fire-
Plastic film that comes in many
colors and has a mirrorlike finish.
Coverings with adhesive
backing. They come in woodlike and
metalike finishes and in patterns of
mod flowers, which give almost
unlimited design possibilities.
Laminated plastic used for
Inside the planter is a watertight
liner. This liner is best made of gal-
vanized sheet metal painted with
asphalt to retard rusting. For a tem-
porary liner, two layers of poly-
ethylene may be stapled inside the
TO ACCEPT CENTER
SCREW IN LAMP BASE FLUORESCENT TUBE
/ TOP GLUED
1 j3 TO SIDEBAND
TOP ASSEMBLY DETAIL
AROUND POT ~ \
S I 12---" CORK BASE
Plan B.-Free-standing garden for pot plants.
Table garden (Plan C) can be placed on any surface or hung on a wall. It is ideal for displaying
small plants such as African violets.
The planter box is mounted on a
platform equipped with casters.
Carpet casters are available. The
entire unit can be moved easily;
floors and carpets around it can be
cleaned; plants in the garden can be
reached easily for care and replace-
ment; and the contents of the room-
garden as well as furniture-can be
Fluorescent lamps are most widely
used for lighting indoor plants. Stan-
dard 40-watt lamps produce enough
light for plants with medium or low-
light requirements. (See the table "Il-
lumination In Foot-Candles At Var-
ious Distances From Cool White Or
Warm White Fluorescent Lamps" on
1" x 30"
1" x 4" BASE
Plan C.-Table garden to display small plants.
Wall garden (Plan D) makes possible an attractive display of hanging vines. Potted plants can be
placed at the base of this indoor garden.
p. 14.) High light requirements may
indicate the use of 1500 MA3 type
The color of lamps used is a com-
promise between cost, efficiency,
esthetics, and color rendering of the
plants. As an aid to both the amateur
and professional interior designer the
table "Color Rendering of Plants,
'Lamp current in milliamperes.
People, and Furnishings" is supplied
on p. 12.
Most plants will do well with ade-
quate visible radiation from any fluo-
rescent lamp except yellow and red.
The power consumed is the same for
all lamps of equal wattage. Incan-
descent lamps are seldom satisfactory
except for spotlighting displays or
flowers. (See the table "Relative
Light and Visible Radiation of 40-
Watt Fluorescent Lamps" on p. 15.)
Wall garden (Plan D) can display both hanging vines and potted plants.
S .E M'E I
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ILLUMINATION IN FOOTCANDLES AT VARIOUS DISTANCES
FROM COOL WHITE OR WARM WHITE FLUORESCENT LAMPS'
40 Watt U-Lamp2
Standard 40 Watt T123
10o 0 o01
1500 MA T12-T174
OO1 OO =1
40 W 60 W
34 (17) 67 (33)
8 (7) 17 (13)
4 (3) 7 (7)
(double values with
75 W 150 W
1Values in parenthesis are footcandles one foot on either side of lamp perpendicular to
distance below lamps.
RELATIVE LIGHT AND VISIBLE RADIATION
OUTPUT OF 40-WATT LAMPS
40-Watt Lamp Percent
type Fluorescent Percent Lumens Visible Radiation
Cool White 100 100
Warm White 100 100
Plant Growth 32 to 60 70 to 80
Wide Spectrum 60 to 70 75 to 85
Index (CRI) 90 or above
Fluorescent tubes should be
replaced periodically when they are
significantly dimmer than new lamps.
For standard lamps (400-450 MA)
this will be I or 2 years when oper-
ated 15 hours a day. For 1500 MA
lamps replacement each year is rec-
Some lamps will become dimmer
in less time while other lamps may
last longer. Keep extra lamps on
hand for replacement. Remember
that a fixture for two lamps will not
operate with only one lamp. Stagger
lamp replacement over a period of
several weeks to avoid abrupt
changes in light level. For the first 4
or 5 days new lamps may be up to
one-fifth brighter than they will be
It is important to know the dif-
ferent ways that plants respond to the
variety of lamps that may be
employed. (See table "Lamps And
Plant Response" on p. 16 for this
It is important to use equal energy
when converting from one light
source to another. Living spaces are
lit with natural available light and
with many different kinds of lamps.
Fluorescent and incandescent lamps
are the types most frequently used.
Each lamp has a different visible
spectrum. To convert from one lamp
source to another, use the table "Ap-
propriate Foot-Candles For Equal
Radiant Energy" on p. 20.
Standard fluorescent lighting fix-
tures or luminaires are most easily
utilized. Strip or channel fixtures or
general lighting fixtures can be used
as shown in the plans. Four-foot
lamps, or the U-lamp (slightly less
than 2 feet overall in length) are easy
Electrical connections require a
three-prong plug both for safety and
positive operation of the lamps.
Ungrounded fixtures or lamps
without grounded metal reflectors
may not operate reliably. Especially
noisy fixtures may require ballast
Components, available at electrical
supply stores, can be wired when
standard fixtures are not convenient.
(Always have qualified persons install
the wiring and make sure the wiring
meets the local and National Elec-
LAMPS AND PLANT RESPONSE
Lamp Plant Response
Fluorescent Cool White (CW) Green foliage expands parallel to
and Warm White (WW). the surface of the lamp.
Stems elongate slowly.
Multiple side shoots develop.
Flowering occurs over a long period of time.
Fluorescent Gro Lux (GL) Deep-green foliage which expands, often larger
Plant Lights (PL). than on plants grown under CW or WW.
Stem elongates very slowly. extra thick stems
Multiple side shoots develop.
Flowering occurs late. flower stalks do not
Fluorescent Gro Lux-WS Light-green foliage which tends to ascend
(GL-WS). Vita-lite (VITA), toward the lamp.
Agro-lite (AGRO) and Wide Stems elongate rapidly, distances
Spectrum lamps. between the leaves.
Suppresses development of multiple
Flowering occurs soon, flower stalks
elongated, plants mature and age rapidly.
High Intensity Discharge Similar to CW & WW fluorescent lamps
Deluxe Mercury (HG) or compared on equal energy.
Metal halide (MH). Green foliage which expands.
Stems elongate slowly.
Multiple side shoots develop.
Flowering occurs over a long
period of time.
High Intensity Discharge Similar to Gro Lux and other color
High pressure sodium improved fluorescent compared on equal energy.
(HPS). Deep-green foliage which expands, often
larger than on plants grown under H and MH.
Stems elongate very slowly, extra thick
Multiple side shoots develop.
Flowering occurs late, flower stalks
do not elongate.
LAMPS AND PLANT RESPONSE
High Intensity Discharge -
Low Pressure Sodium (LPS)
Incandescent (INC) and
* Extra deep-green foliage, bigger and
thicker than on plants grown under
other light sources.
* Stem elongation is slowed. \ery
thick stems develop.
* Multiple side shoots develop even
on secondary shoots.
* Flowering occurs, flower stalks
do not elongate.
Exceptions: Saintpaulias. lettuce, and Impatiens
must have supplemental sunlight or incandescent
to insure development of chlorophyll and
reduction of stem elongation.
* Paling of foliage, thinner and longer
than on plants grown under light sources.
* Stem elongation is excessive, eventually become
spindly and easily breaks.
* Side shoot development is suppressed.
plants expand only in height.
* Flowering occurs rapidly, the plants
mature and senescence takes place.
Exceptions: Rosette and thick-leaved plants
such as Sansevieria may maintain themselves
for many months. The new leaves which
eventually develop will elongate and
will not have the typical characteristics
of the species.
trical Code.) The components neces-
Lampholders. Two are required
for each lamp. (U-tubes require spe-
cial lampholders available at elec-
trical supply stores.)
Ballast. This is a built-in power
Wire. Insulated, heat-resistant
Metal enclosure. This will house
the ballast and the wiring to the
Plants need light for 8 to 12 hours
a day. Use an automatic timer to con-
trol the length of illumination. Do
not depend on your memory to turn
on the lamps at the proper time.
An automatic timer is available at
hardware and electrical stores. The
timer can be set to turn the lamps on
and off at any time. For 16 hours of
light, you can set it to turn on at 6
a.m. and off at 10 p.m.
256-376 0 78 3
Light level determines the types of
plants that can be grown. Recom-
mended light levels for plants are
given in foot-candles (fc). A foot-
candle is a unit of illumination equal
Free-standing light shell (Plan E) permits the
display of plants in various size containers.
to the amount of light thrown by one
standard candle on a surface 1 foot
Plants will grow in higher light
levels than the preferred levels to be
mentioned, but they will not survive
below minimum levels of light.
Low designates a minimum light
level of 12 foot-candles and a pre-
ferred level of 35 to 100 foot-candles.
Medium designates a minimum of
35 foot-candles and a preferred level
of 100 to 250 foot-candles.
High designates a minimum of 100
foot-candles and a preferred level of
Very High designates a minimum
of 500 foot-candles and a preferred
level of over 500 foot-candles.
Using Artificial Light with cool
white fluorescent lamps as the stan-
Low designates a minimum light
level of 25 foot-candles and a pre-
ferred level of 75 to 100 foot-candles.
Medium designates a minimum of
75 to 100 foot-candles and a pre-
ferred level of 200 to 500 foot-can-
High designates a minimum of 200
foot-candles and a preferred level of
Very High designates a minimum
of 1000 foot-candles and a preferred
level of over 1000 foot-candles.
Measuring Light Levels
If the natural light in the living
space is insufficient to maintain the
plants then artificial light must be
used. To determine if adequate light
exists, it is necessary to use a light
Models, typically, have several
INSIDE AND OUTSIDE
Free-standing light shell (Plan E) is suitable for halls, foyers, kitchens, and playrooms.
ranges, such as from 10 to 50 foot-
candles, 50 to 250 foot-candles, and
200 to 1000 foot-candles with an X-
10 multiplying cover.
Such meters are worked by posi-
tioning their tops parallel to the sur-
face being measured for light. Then
the switch position is shifted from
high to medium to low to determine
the intensity of light measured in
foot-candles. Several readings should
be taken and the results averaged to
determine the proper light meas-
Photographic light meters are not
fully satisfactory for measuring plant
lighting because the lighting con-
versions and corrections required are
complex due to spectral variations
and vary with various meters. How-
ever, they can be used to determine
relative levels of daylight or incan-
The purchase of a light meter
Appropriate Foot-candles' for Equal Radiant Energy
(Visible 400-850 nm) for Selected Lamps
Lamp fc fc fc fc
Cool White CW 100 200 500 1000
Warm White WW 105 210 525 1050
Gro-Lux. Plant Light GRO 47 94 235 470
Gro-Lux-WS GRO/WS 68 136 340 680
Agro-lite AGRO 74 148 370 740
Vita-lite VITA 80 160 400 800
Mercury (all types) HG 108 216 540 1080
Metal Halide MH 87 174 435 870
High-Pressure Sodium HPS 88 176 440 880
Low-Pressure Sodium LPS 137 274 685 1370
Incandescent INC 35 70 175 350
Incandescent-MNercury INC-HG 50 100 250 500
Winter 53 106 265 530
Summer 55 110 273 546
'Tne foot-candle readings given in the Plant Guide are based on Cool
Note that when the table lists 100 fc of Cool White fluorescent,
White fluorescent lamps.
it requires 53 fc from
sunlight, 105 fc from Warm White, 47 fc from Gro-Lux, 68 fcfrom Gro-Lux-WS to give equal energy
and equal effectiveness for lighting plants. Check with a lighting engineer to find out what
kind of artificial lamps are used to light the space.
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Tall, narrow garden (Plan F) offers the flex-
ibility of movable shelves and, will permit
the starting and growing of many small
especially designed for measuring
artificial lighting is recommended.
Other pointers to remember when
taking light readings with a meter:
Pick a day when it is sunny.
Adjust curtains to their usual
daytime position. Drawn curtains,
whether sheer or opaque, greatly alter
the light level.
Some plants will not do well
indoors. These plants are sun lovers,
and though the lamps in the indoor
garden are bright, they are still pale
and weak when compared to the sun.
The midday summer sun produces
5,000 to 10,000 foot-candles of light,
which is very bright compared to
SELECTING A LOCATION
The best place to put an indoor
garden is where the temperature
during the day is about 750 F. and
the temperature during the night is
about 650 F.
Avoid locations near heating ducts,
exhaust fans, or doorways to the out-
side. Air from heating ducts heats
and dries the plants. Cold air and
drafts from exhaust fans and outside
doors may chill the plants.
It is a good idea to avoid placing
planters in heavy traffic areas in the
home. Not only is the planter often in
the way where traffic is heavy, but
plants in the garden are likely to be
damaged by passing traffic.
Wherever it is used, an indoor
garden will light the ceiling and walls
as well as the plants. This extra light
may be welcome; it may serve as the
secondary source of illumination for
the room. But it may be
unwelcome-producing glare, rather
than brightness. Indoor light levels of
only 1,000 foot-candles can disturb
the eyes of some people. Screening
the lights with foliage will reduce
glare. Directed glare can be avoided
through the use of shields and by
careful location of the lights.
STOCKING THE GARDEN
The degree of satisfaction that your
garden brings you depends, more
than anything else, on your selection
of plants for it-plants that are both
attractive and adaptable to growing
indoors. Your skill in arranging the
plants that you select can add to your
enjoyment of the garden.
Plants should not be planted
directly in the indoor garden; they
should be potted and the pots set in
the garden. This method of handling
the plants allows you to rearrange
your garden periodically.
You can use seasonal plants in
your garden-poinsettias at
Christmas, azaleas or tulips at Valen-
tine's Day, lilies at Easter,
hydrangeas for Mother's Day, potted
annuals during summer, or potted
chrysanthemums in fall. Your garden
should never remain static; it would
soon become unattractive.
The guide (p. 26) lists three points
to consider in selecting decorative
plants for the indoor garden-size of
the mature plant, light level needed
1" x4" BASE
Tall, narrow garden (Plan F) with movable shelves is 6 feet tall and 2 feet square.
Triangular planter (Plan G) is suitable for
lighting plants of different heights and
for healthy plant growth, and the
The list of plants is not all inclu-
sive. Plants are listed that are avail-
able through usual supply sources
and have been grown successfully in
many homes. Hobbyists may enjoy
trying other plants.
Tree designates plants that grow as
a single plant in a container,
minimum size 3 feet, maximum size
often to the ceiling.
These tall plants may eventually
have to be air-layered (see p. 47), cut
back to force growth of side shoots,
or be given to someone who has more
Floor plant designates plants that
grow 2 to 6 feet tall. They are used
separately or in a grouping-often as
a room divider or a screen.
Pot plant designates a wide range
of plants of varying sizes that grow in
different size pots, up to 8 inches in
Terrarium plant designates plants
that have relatively small leaves and
can be grown in a closed bottle,
aquarium, or jar. They are used in a
grouping, intermixing plants with dif-
ferent colors and shapes of leaves.
Hanging plant designates plants
that can be trained to cascade from
hanging baskets. Many of these
plants can be vining types; other
plants, because of their growth
habits, may be adapted to this special
These pot plants can be used sepa-
rately, double-potted in waterproof
containers, or lined up in a planter
box giving the impression of plants
growing directly in the box.
Setting The Plants
Support large potted plants by set-
ting them on other clay pots that are
upended in the bottom of the planter
box. Fill in around the upended pots
with coarse gravel to a depth of 3 or
4 inches. Then fill the rest of the box
around the potted plants with
unmilled sphagnum moss, pea-size
gravel, or marble chips. Small potted
plants can be plunged directly into
the sphagnum, pea gravel, or marble.
Although the fluorescent lamps
used in the garden are not as hot as
incandescent lamps, they generate
enough heat to harm plants that
come in contact with them. There-
fore, keep all plants at least 6 inches
away from the lamps.
BUMPER\ \ /
RECESSED \ /
S METAL PLATE
Plan G.-Triangular planter consists of one U-shaped fluorescent lamp mounted on a triangular
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Angular table planter (Plan H) permits the lighting of a long platform displaying many plants.
Plan H.-Angular table planter mounts two U-shaped fluorescent lamps and is backed by plexi-
CARE OF THE GARDEN
After you have selected plants that
grow well indoors, your success in
growing them depends primarily on
the care you give them. You should
water the plants thoroughly but infre-
quently, fertilize them periodically,
and illuminate them adequately and
Knowing what constitutes an
adjusted or conditioned plant enables
you to exert maximum control over
its growth. Your plant has no native
ability to live in the surroundings you
have picked for it-whether home,
office, or public area. It needs to be
trained to adjust to its alien environ-
To aid in this adjustment,. you
Slow down plant growth.
Permit leaves to get accustomed
to dark, dry conditions in the area
where the plant is to be placed.
Permit the plant to accumulate
mineral ions and carbohydrates to
help maintain itself during periods of
Office planter (Plan I) is designed to light a restricted area of plants.
Window-on-the-wall planter (Plan J) allows the display of large, growth plants in the home.
These procedures will assure a con-
ditioned plant; they require much
patience, but they are well worth the
A conditioned plant has the fol-
All the foliage is dark green,
thick, and plush looking.
The foliage is green all the way
to the soil line.
Growth is slowed and, con-
sequently, few or no new leaves are
showing. The little growth that does
show is dark green. The stem at the
top of the plant is thick in diameter.
The net of roots is well estab-
lished and fills most of the pot, cov-
ering the whole surface of the soil
There are certain things you can do
at the beginning that will make for
well-adjusted or conditioned plants.
Here are some points to keep in
Choosing plants.-The plant you
pick depends on your taste, space
available, and use. Every plant
should be potted individually. It is
almost impossible to train plants
when they are potted together.
Washing and cleaning plants.-All
plants except those with hairy-sur-
faced leaves (African violets and
begonias) should be washed in warm
soapy water of bath temperature,
about 900 to 1000 F. Wash all leaves,
stems, and buds. Clean both sides of
leaves. Be sure to support each indi-
vidual leaf with your hand while
doing this. Rinse with water, shake,
and allow to dry overnight in the sink
or on a newspaper. This procedure
removes dirt, insect eggs, and
insecticides. Repeat at frequent inter-
vals to bring out the natural shine of
Locating training area.-Pick a
spot with bright light, but avoid
places where direct sunlight shines on
the leaves. Keep plants away from
drafts, heating ducts, or open doors.
Place them on a waterproof area; this
may be a wooden frame covered with
polyethylene which is then covered
with a layer of coarse gravel or sand.
Or use colorful inexpensive plastic
trays, tubs, pans, and basins. Take
care not to scar the underside of these
containers-it ruins the water-
Buying fertilizer.--Since plants
need at least 12 elements for growth,
buy a complete fertilizer. The label
should list the major ingredients:
nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus,
and a mixture of trace elements.
Some gardeners prefer a liquid fer-
Plan J.-Window-on-the-wall planter is made from a ceiling fixture turned on its side. Its fluo-
rescent lamps are covered with a translucent plastic panel.
The Garden Center (Plan K) provides extra
space for such gardening aids as growing
media, containers, and fertilizer in its
bottom folding panel.
tilizer that is easy to mix and whose
concentration can be adjusted. The
elements in a good fertilizer are
immediately available to the plant.
Low but more frequent applica-
tions of fertilizer help sustain growth
better than high rates. Do not over
fertilize because it promotes soft
growth. (See "General Care" section
on p. 37.)
Water requirements.-After you
have provided the plant with light, a
waterproof area, and fertilizer, you
must determine how much water the
container, soil, and root system will
hold. It is essential to know how
many ounces or cups of water the
plant medium will require.
The soil and roots are a mass filled
with pore spaces; it is best to add the
water until the area is filled and
everything is moist. Leave no excess
water standing. Mark on a label the
To be absolutely certain of the
plant's water requirements use the
following method. Buy a large plastic
or metal funnel and mark the 1, 2,
and 3-cup lines inside. Plunge the
funnel into the soil and fill with a
measured amount of water. Leave the
funnel in place overnight. Continue
to add water until no additional
water enters the growing medium.
The soil medium will hold water by
gravity, but will not hold any excess.
Note the amount each container
needs. From then on you can auto-
matically calculate the correct
amount of water. (See "General
Care" section on p. 37.)
Training tips.- When plants
require water they begin to change
from dark to light green and become
flaccid. Start to train your plant by
watering it every third day to satur-
ation as described under "Water
requirements." Then begin to delay
the time that you would normally
Watering periods are best noted on
a calendar, keeping in mind the mois-
ture requirements in the table on p.
26. With this procedure, you permit
the medium to become a little dryer
and slow down top growth, while
maintaining an active root system.
It takes at least 3 months for most
plants to adjust their growth. Not all
plants can be managed this way.
Some, like violets, must be watered
almost daily and never permitted to
Adjusting light levels.-At first,
keep the plant away from the window
in a darker part of the room. After 3
to 6 months, move it to the desired
location to light levels as listed on the
table on p. 26.
Keeping plants in shape.-Check
your plants every 3 months to keep
them in shape. Maintain a definite
water and fertilizer schedule for best
growth. Also keep a regular schedule
GE aA'L CARE
Removing dead leaves,
for taking replacernents"
for rep acements
planningg lan for9 1 3tboun
membe, t5 become' ;e. o
,nd depl no
When ther e to
lants is tis.d e 1
g WeI which util izesboth aP
lan he Garden
2-40 WATT BALLAST
120 VOLT 60 HZ
STD. 40 W
Wiring diagram is for two 40-watt standard or U-tubes. Wiring should conform to national elec-
tric and local codes.
vent wilting. Specific water require-
ments are given in the plant guide on
As soon as you put plants in the
garden, begin adjusting them to their
new indoor environment. Water the
soil, clay pot, and surrounding media
to saturation. But do not flood the
Allow the whole garden to dry
until the plants are near wilting. You
can detect wilting early by watching
the leaves; they change from green to
gray-green and begin to droop.
When the plants begin to wilt,
water them thoroughly again.
While plants are adjusting to the
indoors, some of the oldest leaves
may yellow. If so, remove them.
Wash the remaining leaves with
warm soapy water, rinse with clear
water, and stake the plants. They
should now be ready for a long life in
the indoor garden.
Set up a schedule for watering. If
you are combining plants with dif-
ferent water requirements, label each
type with small plastic tags. For
example, green tags could be used for
plants needing frequent watering
(wet), yellow tags for less frequent
watering (moist), and so on.
Pots in the planter box are raised to a uniform
level. Space between them is filled with
unmilled spaghnum moss.
Dry plants need watering every 10
to 14 days. These plants tend to have
coarse roots and are well adapted to
dark and dry conditions. They can be
trained to withstand prolonged
periods of slowed growth which
delays rate of leaf formation, pre-
vents death of old leaves, and helps
retain the size of the plant. More fre-
quent watering will cause new leaves
to grow at a rapid rate, and usually
an old leaf will die for every new leaf
formed. Less frequent watering will
cause many leaves to die.
Moist plants need watering every 4
to 7 days. These plants tend to have a
fine root system that will die immedi-
ately if the soil dries out. More fre-
quent or less frequent watering will
cause same results as for "dry" plants.
Wet plants need watering every
other day. They must have a rela-
tively uniform amount of water in the
growing media at all times. Even one
period of drying usually means
damage to the leaves and the possi-
bility that the plant will die even-
tually. Do not let potted plants stand
in saucers holding water.
Wet moss on the surface of the
planter tends to raise the relative
humidity of the air around the plants
as moisture evaporates from it. This
high humidity is beneficial to the
Do not bother syringing the plants
to raise the humidity. Syringing
seldom is effective; the humidity
remains high only for a few minutes.
And there is danger of spilling water
on furnishings in the room.
When you are watering, do not get
water on the lamps, fixtures, or
More information on watering:
Germinating seeds and seedlings
may need daily watering. Seedlings
have very fine, sensitive root systems
that dry out easily, particularly under
the heat of artificial light. Check soil
daily to prevent drying and damage.
Water temperature is unim-
portant for most plants because water
quickly reaches temperature of sur-
rounding area. However, the leaves
of African violets may lose green
color (chlorophyll) if water tem-
perature is even 150 warmer or colder
than leaf temperature. Avoid
splashing water on the foliage. Plants
take up water through roots, not
through stems or leaves.
Plastic funnel used as aid in watering.
You can use drinking water
directly from the faucet for most
plants, but some plants (such as ferns
and African violets) are sensitive to
the chlorine in the water. For these,
allow water to stand overnight before
using; chlorine escapes into the atmo-
sphere while the water is standing.
If water is unacceptable to a
person when judged by taste, color,
and smell it will not be acceptable to
Do not reuse water drained from
plants. This water does not have the
oxygen that plants need and it may
contain disease organisms and
unused salts that will damage plant
Water and fertilize plants at the
same time to insure proper uptake of
nutrients and distribution throughout
the growing media. Usually adding
fertilizer every third or fourth time
(every 2 to 4 weeks) you water is suf-
ficient to maintain good growth.
Use a water-soluble fertilizer at the
strength recommended on the label.
Fertilize only when plants are actively
Even when you use soluble fertil-
izers, you may notice an accumu-
lation of fertilizer on the surface of
the soil; it will be a white, crusty
deposit. This deposit should be
removed, along with a little of the
surface soil, and replaced with new
Select plants which are compatible
as to growing media, light, and mois-
ture needs. Clean all foliage and
scrub surfaces with vegetable brush
to remove dust, disease, and insect
debris. Healthy plants must be
chosen if the terrarium is to thrive.
The container chosen for the ter-
rarium must be both clear and water-
proof. One can use candy jars, aquar-
iums, condiment or beverage jars, or
bottles of any size. Wash the con-
tainer and remove all labels and
traces of the previous contents. Allow
them to dry completely before begin-
ning the terrarium. Remember that
all things that go into the construc-
tion of a terrarium should be dry.
Leave all items out to dry at least
overnight; this will make assembly of
the terrarium much easier and permit
quick cleanup at the end.
The following items will be neces-
sary to create a terrarium: (I) a con-
tainer, (2) coarse sphagnum moss for
bottom layer, (3) pasteurized potting
mix, (4) cuttings and rooted plants,
(5) a long stick of pencil diameter to
handle plants, and (6) a wash bottle.
When all material has been assem-
bled, do the following-
Put a thin layer of moss on the
bottom of the bottle. Firm with a
stick to make a slanting base. The
depth of the layer depends on bottle
size; 1/2 to 3/4-inch is usually deep
enough for most bottles.
Put at least 1/2 to 3/4-inch of
potting mix over the coarse moss.
Use stick to level and firm up the
structure of the potting mix.
Select plants and try to blend
their shape, foliage color, and height.
Carefully remove most of the potting
mix from the plants. Trim all roots 2
to 3 inches and remove all diseased or
damaged foliage or branches.
Group the plants outside the
bottle first to decide on arrangement.
Containers of man) different shapes and sizes can be used for terrariums.
Use stick to guide each plant into the
Fan out the roots on the potting
mix and shift dry potting mix over
them; firm them into place with the
stick. Tap and shake the bottle to
force the growing media to shift
down between the foliage. Starting at
the back of the terrarium, add one
plant at a time, firming all plants and
media into place with the stick.
Move the foliage and branches
around to face in one direction with
the stick. Working slowly, use stick
to slide pieces of ground moss or
painted gravel into place to cover the
bottom of the bottle. Make sure all
surfaces are still dry-it should be
easy to move, place, and clean up
inside of the terrarium.
Water the terrarium by using a
wash bottle or a thin plastic tube.
Allow water to flow down the inside
of the bottle, gently and slowly
moisten coarse moss, potting mix.
and covering. Do not sprinkle foliage
or add so much water that you can
see water standing in the bottom. If
the terrarium is put together prop-
erly, you should be able to tilt the ter-
rarium to allow the excess water to
When the terrarium is finished,
place it in a cool, lightly shaded area.
Leave top off the bottle and allow all
surfaces-foliage, media, bottle-to
thoroughly air dry. To clean sides of
the bottle use paper towelling on the
stick. Look for damaged or dying
leaves and remove them.
Terrarium plants should be carefully watered using a wash bottle or a thin plastic tube. Never
water to the point where it will stand at the bottom.
Leave the bottle open for several
days to correct the relative humidity.
Place top on bottle but do not seal.
Sealed bottles will cause plants to rot;
a slight exchange of oxygen and
carbon dioxide is necessary for the
terrarium to survive.
Display the terrarium by placing it
anywhere in the naturally lighted area
of the home. Do not place it where it
will be subjected to direct sunlight or
near a heating or cooling duct. To
render the bottle scar proof paste a
piece of felt on the bottom with
Terrariums require little care. If
everything has been done properly
then a balanced environment will
have been created and water loss will
be minimal. Signs that the terrarium
needs water are foliage that crinkles
at the edges and bottom moss that
turns from dark to light brown. As
before, use wash bottle or fine tubing
to flow water down the sides of the
bottle; remember to add water until
all surfaces are moistened but allow
no excess water to stand in the
bottom of the bottle. Turn the bottle
upside down to permit all excess
water to drain away.
Do not fertilize the plants at first.
Fertilizing promotes excessive growth
which will rapidly fill the bottle.
After 6 to 9 months add regular
house-plant type fertilizer using at
least one-quarter of the concentration
recommended for ordinary house
Eventually, plants will overgrow
the space allowed them. When this
occurs, chemically prune the tips of
the plants by touching the growing
point with a swab dipped in rubbing
useful life of I
the tips will die after
and side branches will
expect no more than a
year for plants in a ter-
plants should be dis-
this period and the
remaining plants used again in
Plants that make good natural
groupings in terrariums are cacti and
succulents, native understory plants,
and small-leave house plants. Do not
mix types because they have different
media, water, and light level require-
ments. Easy-to-handle plants are: Be-
gonia, Birds-nest fern, Boxwood,
Calathea, Chamaedorea palm, Chlo-
rophytum (Spider plant). Euonymus
(Creeper), Fittonia, Gynura (Velvet
plant), Hedera (English ivy), Hemi-
graphis, Maidenhair fern, Maranta
(Prayer plant), Peperomias, Pilea
(Aluminum plant), Scindapsus
(Devil's ivy), Tradescantia, and Ze-
The highest levels of light found in
most rooms occur near or at the top
of the windows. Hanging baskets
permit indoor gardeners to utilize this
light to grow the wide range of plants
listed in the plant guide on p. 26.
To grow plants in hanging baskets
take the following steps.-
Container.-Use any type of con-
tainer that will hold at least 2 quarts
of growing media by volume. Con-
tainers with less volume tend to dry
out rapidly. Containers can be metal
framed and lined with moss. Use
bleach bottles that are available com-
mercially, gallon-sized milk con-
tainers, or redwood containers.
Be sure to provide drainage holes
in the container. Use a nail to drive
holes that are three-eighths of an inch
in diameter, spaced 3 inches apart
near the bottom of the container. Tie
a cord or hemp bag around the con-
tainer to make it into a hanging
Hanging baskets are also available
with self-adhering saucers. Thus, one
can grow and water plants anywhere
while preventing water drippings on
Growing media.-Bagged growing
media is available in most variety and
garden stores. These usually contain
fertilizers in slow-release form.
To make your own general-pur-
pose mix use the following formula:
To 2 parts of sandy loam soil add 1
part coarse sphagnum peat moss and
I part coarse aggregate (vermiculite,
perlite, or washed cinders). To each
bushel of mix add 4 ounces of pul-
verized dolomitic limestone, 4 ounces
of 20 percent superphosphate, and 2
ounces of 5-10-5 fertilizer. Mix thor-
oughly and add just enough water to
crumble the media in large masses;
do not add so much water the media
Drainage.-Line the bottom 2
inches of the container with coarse
aggregate. Shield the drainage holes
with coffee filters to hold the growing
media in place until the new root
system meshes into a solid mass.
Pack the aggregate loosely to leave
air pockets that will permit easy
drainage of water out of the con-
Containers for indoor gardening are as varied
as the plants that may be grown in them.
trainer. Cover the top of the aggregate
with a half-inch layer of aggregate
that has been finely crushed; this will
prevent the growing media from
plugging up the drainage holes.
Fertilizer.-Fill container to within
1 inch of the top with water-moist-
ened growing media. Mix in 1 table-
spoon of a coated, slow-release 14-14-
14 fertilizer per 6-inch container. The
volume of a 6-inch container is equal
to 2 quarts of mix. This concen-
tration of fertilizer should last for
about 3 months; plan to add a second
tablespoon on the surface about 2-1/
2 months after planting. Continue to
fertilize at regular intervals
throughout the life of the plant.
Planting.-Hold the potted plant
on its side with one hand protecting
the plant. Tap the plant gently until
the soil ball and plant falls out.
Remove the network of roots on
bottom of soil ball. Dig a hole in
which the soil ball fits perfectly. The
growing media of the soil ball and of
the new container should be on the
same level. Firm the soil ball and
growing media to insure a good flow
of water and the knitting of the root
Location.-Plants, like petunias,
that require at least 6 hours daily of
direct sunlight should be placed in
areas where they will be shaded for
part of the day. They can be placed
near a porch, in a window, or close to
the entrance of your home. (Petunias
grown in too much shade develop
long, poorly-branched shoots with
few if any flowers; petunias are
adapted to bright, sunny situations
where they develop stout, highly-
branched shoots with abundant flow-
ering and fruiting.)
Watering.-When you water the
plant, continue to add water until all
areas of the growing media are thor-
oughly moistened and excess water
begins to drip from the drainage
holes. This volume of water will be
adequate if sufficient air space above
the growing media and the top of the
container has been provided. Note
how much water has been added and
apply the same volume next time.
abundant flowering and to prolong
the flowering time, the plant must be
acclimatized or "trained to survive"
in its location. This is accomplished
by watering frequency and controlled
fertilizer levels. Examine the plant
when freshly planted and do not
water until the leaves change from
dark to pale green, and have a wilting
When watering the growing media
keep water off the leaves. Do not
water again until the plant shows
signs of wilting; this treatment slows
growth and will help the plant survive
sudden changes in the environment.
Grooming.-To preserve the
appearance of the plant pick off yel-
lowing or damaged leaves and
flowers. As the plant develops,
remove some branches to prevent
crowding and to promote the devel-
opment of new flowering shoots. To
expose all sides of the plant to the
environment, turn the container at
weekly intervals. This will help the
symmetrical development of the plant
and will balance out the effects of the
Plants For The Beginner
The Peperomia obtusifolia (or pep-
eromia plant) is a good plant for a
beginner to experiment with, and is
available in either a solid green or in
various green and white com-
This plant requires minimum care
and can be trained to go into a cab-
inet, a dark corer in a hallway, or
into a hanging waterproof basket.
However, it will die rapidly if over-
watered and overfertilized. It must be
trained. The peperomia is from trop-
ical South and Central America. Its
fleshy leaves are about 4 inches long
and 2-1/2 inches wide. It branches
rapidly and its stems fall over the sur-
face of the container.
Another plant that is interesting to
experiment with is the Spathiphyllum
"Mauna Loa." This plant, originally
from Columbia, has long, green,
lance-shaped foliage that forms
spathes (large, leaf-like parts
enclosing a flower cluster) that are 2-
1/2 inches long. The spadix (the
fleshy spike of tiny flowers often
enclosed in a spathe) is greenish-
yellow to white. The plant is aesthetic
to look at and throws interesting
shadows around it giving the impres-
sion of wide-open spaces. The plant
must be kept moist at all times to sur-
The Ficus retusa nitida, small-leaf
rubber tree from the Indian and
Malayan tropics, can be easily han-
dled by the novice. It can be trained
to any form by pruning. It has dark-
green foliage 2 to 4 inches long, and
is available on the market as a 6-foot
tree in poodle, screen, or fan forms.
A Dozen Recommended Plants For Beginners
Name of plant Light level water requirement
Aechmea fasciaa (Bromeliad) medium moist
Aglaonema roebelinii (Pewter plant) low moist
Brassaia actinophylla (Schefflera) medium dry
Chamaedorea elegans (Neanthe bella palm) low moist
Dieffenbachia amoena (Dumb cane) medium dry
Dracaena fragrans (Corn plant) low wet
Fatsia japonica (Japanese aralia) medium moist
Ficus elastica 'Decora' (Rubber plant) medium moist
Hoya carnosa (Wax plant) medium dry
Maranta leuconeura (Prayer plant) medium moist
Nephrolepis exalta bostoniensis (Boston fern) medium moist
Podocarpus macrophyllus 'Maki' (Podocarpus) high moist
Unless trained, it rapidly loses its
leaves. It should be watered about
once a week.
About once a week, turn each of
the pots in the planter. This encour-
ages even development of the plants
and keeps them from rooting into the
sphagnum moss through the drain
hole of the pot.
It plants get old, sick, or oversize,
take them out of the planter and
replace them with new, healthy, mod-
If you are having insect problems
in your indoor garden follow the
instructions in Home and Garden
Bulletin No. 67, "Insects and Related
Pests of House Plants." Single copies
of this publication-prepared by the
Agricultural Research Service-can
While you're away
Many house plants die while the
owner is away from home on a vaca-
tion or business trip. If you cannot
get someone to care for your plants,
cover the plants with a polyethylene
sheet and tie it to the pot or box to
prevent loss of moisture. Reduce the
lighting to 8 hours a day.
If you have time before leaving,
you can train the plants to get along
with a little water. If not, just give
them a good drink, using the funnel
method, before you leave.
Plants usually can get along satis-
factorily by themselves for about 2
weeks. If you must be away for more
than 2 weeks, you can expect to lose
some of your plants, particularly
Trade names are used in this publica-
tion solely to provide specific infor-
mation. Mention of a trade name
does not constitute a guarantee of the
product by the U.S. Department of
Agriculture nor does it imply an
endorsement by the Department over
comparable products that are not
be obtained free from your County
Extension Agent or by writing to the
Office of Governmental and Public
Affairs, U.S. Department of
Agriculture, Washington, D.C.
20250. Send your request on a
postcard. Be sure to include your ZIP
In addition to using your indoor
garden for growing conventional
house plants, you can use it for dis-
playing plant collections such as
mosses, ivies, orchids, or bonsai
(dwarf plants). If you use the garden
for orchids, surround it with a clear
plastic-sheet material to hold in mois-
ture and keep the humidity high.
Or you may want to display potted
plants from the florist-plants that
you intend to discard after their
flowers pass. Because many of their
needs are met by the garden, these
potted plants last considerably longer
there then they would on a table or
window sill. Actually, the plants may
continue to grow in the garden.
If you intend to use your garden
exclusively for display of florist
plants, you might have a metal pan
made to fit over the floor of the
planter. The pan should be 3 or 4
inches deep and painted to match the
Fill the pan with pea gravel or
marble chips and set the plants in the
gravel-filled pan. When you water the
plants, let some of the water drain
into the pan; evaporation from the
gravel or marble chips will increase
the humidity of the air around the
If you wish to propagate plants,
S you can try air layering for plants
that have stiff or woody stems and
eventually grow too tall to be attrac-
Do it this way. Attach the stem
securely to a stake. Make an upward
cut into the stem, separating the bark
by inserting a small stick. Cover the
cut area with a ball of moist, but not
soggy, sphagnum moss. Then cover
the moss with polyethylene film and
tape it at each end to reduce water
Continue to grow the mother plant
in the usual way. When you can see
the roots in the moss, cut the rooted
top off the mother plant and pot the
Allow the mother plant to continue
growing; new lateral branches often
Steps in air layering.
develop down the stem. You can air
layer the same mother plant many
times as new lateral shoots develop.
Single copies of this publication
and Home and Garden Bulletin No.
82, "Selecting and Growing House
Plants," may be obtained free from
your County Extension Agent or by
writing to the Office of Governmental
and Public Affairs, U.S. Department
of Agriculture, Washington, D.C.
20250. Send your request on a
postcard. Please include your ZIP
code and your return address.
U. S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE 198B 0 256-376
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
3 1262 08584 2911
U. S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH SERVICE
HYATTSVILLE. MARYLAND 20782
PENALTY FOR PRIVATE USE, S300
POSTAGE AND FEES PAID
U. S. DEPARTMENT OF
Department publications contain public infor-
mation. They are not copyrighted and can be
reproduced in whole or in part with or without
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