Trees. I can’t think of a better way to spend an afternoon than fishing underneath a large tree… or climbing the sturdy branches. They add color and majesty to our land, as they have for thousands of years. They improve air quality and remove carbon dioxide and other gasses that trap heat.
An indoor tree can do these same things for your home or office space. Not only do they add beauty and charm, they offer the same benefits to an enclosed area as outdoor trees do for the planet. They are a lovely accent to any home, and can provide depth to an otherwise plain office area. There are several to choose from, and with just a little bit of maintenance, you can have a bit of the great outdoors in your own area!
One of the most popular indoor trees is the ficus, or fig tree, of which there are several types. It is a member of the Moraceae family and it serves as an indoor filter for many of the organic compounds that affect us in our own homes or offices. The Weeping Fig (Ficus Benjamina) is a popular one, and it’s oval shaped leaves have a glossy finish to them. The branches droop slightly to give it the appearance of grace and dignity.
This plant should be watered only when the first couple of inches of the potting soil has dried, although since the trees are indigenous to humid temperatures, misting the leaves with water slightly once or twice a day when the tree is young will keep the plant from stressing. Room humidifiers are also helpful. The lighting should remain the same as much as possible, since the plant is sensitive to changes. The roots grow quickly, and the ficus will probably need replanted every couple of years or so.
Another type of ficus tree is the Ficus Lyrata, or the Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree. Its bold, glossy leaves appear to take on the shape of a violin (or a fiddle). The care is much the same as it is for the Weeping Fig as far as watering and lighting. Its growth can be manipulated into growing in different shapes, such as a braid design.
The Kentia Palm, or the Howea forsteriana is another popular indoor tree. It is indigenous to an area near Australia known as Lord Howe Island. The trunks on these trees are narrow with very long green leaves. The care for these trees is relatively simple… again, only water when the first two inches of soil has dried out. It grows best in a potting soil that has bits of sand and peat mixed in, and the pot itself should have a small draining hole. This prevents water from building up and causing the roots to rot.
It is important to remember not to over-water the tree, as this can cause the leaves to turn yellow, then brown. Under-watering will cause the tips to brown and the leaves to droop excessively. Misting the plant with lukewarm water will provide the humidity necessary for its good health. The plant should placed at a point of the room that is well-lit, however direct light on the plant itself should be avoided. Fertilizer should be used during the spring and summer months during the plant’s increased growth period.
Citrus trees are also lovely plants for the home or office when they are fused to a dwarfing rootstock (to keep them from growing too tall). The lighting should be very bright, direct sunlight for optimum growth. Temperatures in the room should be neither too warm or too cold, and humidity levels should be at around 60%. As with most indoor trees, it should be watered regularly but not over-watered… again, when the first inch or two of soil has dried. A good fertilizer should be used at least once a month. These trees do need pollination to ensure growth, so the pollen should be brushed off with a paintbrush regularly.
African Fern Pines (Podocarpus gracilior) are another popular indoor tree that is really low maintenance. Average room temperatures are fine for this plant, and the humidity level isn’t an issue for its health. It can easily be trimmed back if the leaves start to grow out of control… and should be fertilized once a month with a good fertilizer. The lighting should be bright, but not directly on the plant. Watering is the same as most indoor trees, by watching the soil and watering when the first layer or two has dried a bit.
Bonsai is not a type of tree, rather it is a Japanese method of growing already existing trees. The trees are pruned and shaped with their roots reduced and constantly reworked until they take on the appearance of a much older, fully grown tree. As with most plants, it is essential not to over-water. As with most indoor trees, the soil can become infected with fungus and the roots can rot if the soil is too moist all the time. They cannot have too much in the way of sun, heat and drafts as they tend to dry out quickly in these conditions. It is important to know exactly which species of tree a bonsai originates from to ensure its proper care.
Pests are a common cause of indoor trees to start having trouble. It is important to check your indoor trees for small bugs that might try to infest. A combination of of two teaspoons of a gentle soap per a gallon of tepid water applied to the leaves can aid in treating infestations.
These are just some of the trees that can add dimension to an otherwise plain office area or brighten up any home. With just a little care and following the lighting and watering instructions, you can have a little bit of the outdoors right in your own home or workspace.
Written by Angela Sangster, Copyright 2010 HousePlantsForYou.com