Indoor Plant Information Night Notes

What a pleasure it was to have Haidi Sutherland join us for an Indoor Plant Information Evening.  Haidi’s presentation was so informative, and if you were lucky enough to attend we hope you went home with all the tips you needed to turn your house into a jungle. 

Here are our notes of Haidi's presentation:


  • Sansevieria (Mother in Laws Tongue)
  • Ficus Elastica (lots of varieties to choose from)
  • Rhaphis palm (fabulous for providing height in the home)
  • Syngonium
  • Devils Ivy/Pothos
  • Peace Lily
    • Top tip for Peace Lily – to promote flowering allow the plant to dry out completely between watering (it’s leaves will flop), before watering



Natural light is important to all plants.  Be sure to turn the lights off in your room to determine what the natural light of the room really is – the light put out by a globe is not enough.  The best low-light plants are:
-           Aspidistra
-           Peace Lily
-           Sansevieria



Cover pots are pots WITHOUT holes in them.  It’s vital that you don’t plant into cover pots.  Any plants you’ve purchased which are in a cover pot should be removed immediately and re-potted into a plastic pot with drainage holes.  In fact Haidi recommends leaving all plants in their plastic pots and placing the pot inside a decorative pot (whether it be a cover pot or a pot with a saucer). 



Be sure to leave your plants in the pot you purchased them in –  it is much more efficient to water them in their plastic pots.

Always water your plants to saturation.  The best way to do this is to immerse your plant (in its plastic pot) in a bucket, a bowl, or a sink which is filled with water, leaving the plant in the bowl overnight to allow the soil to draw up as much water as it needs.    Remove the plant from the water bowl and allow any excess water to drain away before placing the plant back into the cover pot.   

You will find watering with this method will often extend your watering by weeks.  All you need to do is change the frequency of your watering when required.  You will find in winter you will water less often, but be guided by your plant and by the soil.  Get used to the feel and the look of the leaves of your plant, and of the soil in the pot.  For most plants only water when the soil is dry and the leaves beginning to wilt. 

For plants in large pots which won’t fit easily into a bucket or bowl take them outside (if you are able) and gently hose them down 6 or 7 times so that you know the soil is well saturated.  Once the excess water has drained away bring them back inside.  A word of caution though, be sure not to put your plants in direct sunlight when doing this.

Don’t be tempted to take your plants outside to be watered by the rain if it is sunny/hot day as you will risk burning the leaves.

Remember, don’t make watering too difficult, your plants will be happy with tap water.

How to tell if a plant needs watering:
-           check the soil with your fingers
-           touch the leaves – do they feel turgid and strong or are they soft and floppy
-           pick your plants up – are they light or heavy (if they are light they need
-           pop a bamboo skewer into the pot – if it comes out wet or damp you don’t   
            need to water. 
-           Finally, learn the signs of your plant

A word on water meters – the meters available for purchase to homeowners are better at measuring salts then they are moisture levels in the soil.  In other words, there are better ways to tell if a plant needs water (see notes above)

The watering mantra – always water to saturation, just change the frequency of the watering if needed. 



A good rule of thumb is to use a liquid fertiliser (Yates Liquid Houseplant Food or Thrive) every second watering.    

Use a slow release fertiliser less often (every 6 months).  Osmocote for Pot Plants is perfect.



Try to keep your plant in the pot you purchased it in for several months to allow the plant to acclimatise to your home and to develop good strong roots.  Remember that most indoor plants will be happy in their own pot for quite a long time.    When you do repot, only go up 1 or 2 pot sizes each time you pot up.

If you’ve purchased a plant in a peat mix, keep them in that mix for several months to allow the plant to develop a good root structure before repotting into a more friable potting mix.   A note on peat mixes – you will find plants in this mix require watering less often as the peat holds onto moisture for longer than a soil-based mix. 



Misting plants with large droplets of water often causes more problems than it is worth.  Misting alone is not enough to create a humid environment in our dry climate.   Except for terrarium plants, don’t mist your plants in an attempt to create a more humid environment. 



These pesky little flies have been a real problem this year.  There are a few ways to treat them such as applying Eco Neem, allowing plants to dry out completely between watering, applying a layer of sand across the top of your pots (this prevents them from laying their eggs in your potting mix), but Haidi’s favoured way of reducing fungus gnats is to give them a quick squirt with fly spray (if you like an eco friendly option here at B&B we would recommend a pyrethrum based fly spray)



Most ferns need very good light and do better on a patio than they do inside the home.  Maidenhair ferns are the exception – they do well inside.    And a tip for maidenhair’s – don’t give up hope if they are looking awful - simply cut them back hard and water using the immersion technique.



Fiddle Leaf Figs can be temperamental.  Keep in mind that they are tropical plants and will generally do better on a protected patio away from cold or hot breezes.  They will grow indoors in a well lit room, but take care with watering (water to saturation and allow to dry out completely between watering).    Remember that it is perfectly natural for their new leaves to have red spots on them.  As the leaf matures the spots will disappear.  If all else fails with your Fiddle Leaf Fig try popping them outside in a protected environment (such as a patio, verandah or courtyard).



As a rule, succulents are best kept outdoors and not inside.  The exceptions are plants like String of Pearls or Hoyas, who will both grow happily inside


The garden staff at Barrow and Bench are always available to assist you with plant enquiries and plant sourcing (many of our indoor plants are sourced from local growers).    If you have any questions at all about plant care or about pest and disease management please feel free to ask one of us at any time (all our garden staff have horticultural qualifications).    Don't forget to check out our instagram page.  You will find it at - this is the best place to see any new stock (plants and pots) here at B&B.  

If you attended our sold out indoor plant night, we thank you for joining us.  Community is important to us and we were particularly thankful for your entry ‘donation’.  With your help, we donated over $460 to the Unley Salvation Army.  This contribution will assist with the establishment of a courtyard garden at their community space.  The garden will be a place where visitors to the centre can relax in a natural and safe environment. 

If you enjoyed the supper treats we had on offer, pop us an email and we will forward the recipes through to you … sharing the love of plants and of home baked goodies – it’s what we love to do! (