I have been interested in plants for quite some time now and I have seen many people keep plants in a closed box (with or without soil) only to see them wither away and die after several days. Why does this happen?
There are two factors which could cause this problem. The first one is that there might be insufficient amount of CO2 being supplied to the roots. This can happen if the environment around the plant is poor or if the container used has low permeability. A good way to check if you have enough CO2 would be to put your hand into the container where you plan to grow your plant(s). If you feel carbon dioxide then its sufficient otherwise you may want to try another method.
The second reason why plants might die prematurely is that they may not receive adequate water supply. In most cases, the roots of the plants should be able to absorb moisture from the soil/sand etc. This helps the plant to survive during dry periods. However, if a plant is placed in an air tight container and deprived of water, it will start to suffer. And eventually, it will die.
So What Should You Do To Avoid These Problems?
There are several ways to solve these issues:
1. Ensure the root system receives sufficient amount of CO2. One way to achieve this is by using small fans to disperse the CO2 throughout the room. You can also buy large plastic bottles filled with pure CO2 gas and place the bottle under your plants’ pots. Make sure that the bottles are opened and cleaned thoroughly before placing them under the pots. Also make sure that the end of the bottle facing towards the leaves is sealed properly so as to ensure that all the gasses stay inside.
2. Use porous containers or use potting soils which contain lots of pores. These allow gases such as O2,CO2,H2O etc to pass through them easily thus ensuring that the roots receive adequate amount of oxygen and nutrients.
3. Check whether the root systems of the plants are getting wet. If they are, don’t worry but instead apply more water. But remember that it shouldn’t be too much. Plants like their roots to remain moist but not overly wet. Excess water causes rotting and makes the roots lose strength. It’s better to add a little bit of dish-washing liquid than adding too much water. Just make sure that the surface of the roots remains at least 1 inch below the topsoil level.
4. Make sure that the container used doesn’t trap heat. This means that you mustn’t use any material which blocks sunlight. For example, you should never use glass containers because they prevent light from reaching the roots thereby decreasing the rate of growth. Instead, use materials which allow sunlight to penetrate such as metal, wood, or even plastic.
5. Place the container near a window which gets direct sunlight. This ensures that the roots receive plenty of sunlight and warmth.
6. Keep the bottom of the pot moist. Don’t let the roots dry up completely. They should not go beyond the depth of 2 inches. The best way to test this is to stick a finger down into the pot. If the tip reaches 3-4 inches then do not disturb the soil further.
7. Change the potting media every few months depending on how fast the plant grows. Most plants require new potting media about once every month.
8. Remove dead foliage and other debris regularly. This will help maintain healthy leafy growth.
9. Be careful while watering. Always use lukewarm tap water. Never pour cold water onto the soil/potting medium. Too much water could drown the roots.
10. Give your houseplants enough space and natural lighting. If possible, move them closer to a sunny window.
11. Choose a potting mix rich in humic matter. Humus contains bacteria, fungi, algae, and other microorganisms that promote nutrient cycling and decompose organic compounds.
12. Mix in composted manure, peat moss, vermiculite, perlite, or bark.
13. Plant seeds directly into the potting mixture. After germination, remove the seedlings from their pots carefully and transplant them outside. That way, you won’t damage the delicate root systems.
14. When growing indoors, mist your potted plants often. Watering your plants less frequently can lead to root rot and fungal infections.
15. Consider planting your indoor plants outdoors during winter. This will give them a chance to acclimatize themselves to outdoor conditions.
16. Try putting your plants in different locations within the home. Different parts of the house respond differently to temperature changes. Some rooms may become warmer or cooler over time.
17. Avoid keeping your plants in places which are constantly exposed to excessive heat or cold.
18. Provide your plants with clean fresh air. Dirty air contains more toxins which could harm your plants.
19. Feed your plants regularly. Fertilizers provide your plants with energy and nutrients necessary for survival.
20. Provide your plants with appropriate humidity levels. They should not be allowed to dry out excessively. Too much moisture can lead to mold and mildew.
21. Maintain proper ventilation by opening windows, doors, and vents whenever it becomes necessary.
22. Monitor the pH levels of your plants’ soil. If the pH balance is off, adjust it accordingly.
23. Grow your plants in well lit areas.
24. Move your houseplants to a different location periodically. This will help them adapt to changing environmental conditions.
25. Stop fertilizing your plants when they reach maturity. Once you’ve achieved maximum results, stop feeding them altogether.
26. Take extra care of your plants during hot summer months. During the hotter days, open the blinds and curtains to bring in cool breezes. Lower temperatures can slow or halt the growth cycle of houseplants and they’ll experience scorching conditions. To protect them, cover the pots with dark cloth until temperatures drop again.
27. Increase your plants’ exposure to sunshine during early spring and late autumn. This increases the production of chlorophyll in green plants and gives them greater resistance against frost.
28. As mentioned earlier, always keep a watch on the moisture content of your plants’ soil. Overly wet soil promotes rotting and disease. Too little moisture deprives your plants of essential life giving elements.