You’ll be surprised to know your plant nutrition is not just about NPK…

All of us are very familiar with the fact that plants need nutrients to grow and thrive. Just like us humans our little green friends also need a balanced diet to bloom at their best. Almost each one of us know about the application of NPK and how these 3 elements are life line of the plants. But that’s not the full story. Plants require other nutrients too and the deficiency or even excess can lead to certain dysfunctions in plants. Today I want to talk about other essential elements plants require.

According to researchers there are 17 essential nutrients which are required by a plant to complete their life cycle out of which three are NPK. For your house plants I want to familiarise you with a few of the other elements.


Plants are green due to presence of chlorophyll which is a must for photosynthesis and magnesium is a must for synthesis of chlorophyll. It also helps in absorption of phosphorous. Not only this, it is required for synthesis of protein and also in cell division. I hope this element needs no further explanation for its importance.

To provide magnesium for house plants you can use –

  • Epsom salt – Its chemical name is magnesium sulfate. It contains 10% Mg.
  • K-mag – Its chemical name is sulphate of potash magnesia which contains 11.2% Mg
  • Magnesia – It is a magnesium oxide which contains the highest amount of Mg i.e. 55%


Calcium is the building block of plants. It is a very critical element as it is required in building up of cell walls and membranes. It helps a plant to stand erect and maintain its shape. It is required in large quantities and in regular intervals for the whole life cycle of the plant. One of the major issues with calcium is that it is an immobile element which means once it is deposited in a particular part of plant it won’t be able to move to another part in case of a deficiency. This makes it our responsibility to provide our plants with the adequate amount of calcium.

You can supply calcium by the following –

  • Limestone – It’s chemical name is Calcium Carbonate (CaCO3) and contains 40% calcium. It is also known as chalk, ground chalk or screened chalk.
  • Hydrated or slaked lime – It is made up of Calcium Hydroxide (Ca(OH)2) and contains a whooping 54% of calcium. It can be applied very easily in its powder form.
  • Burnt or Quick Lime – It is oxide of calcium (CaO) and consists of 40-42% of calcium. It is available in solid form at room temperature.
  • CAN (Calcium Ammonium Nitrate) – It is another form of limestone which provides the plants with 8% calcium on its application.

Impact of inorganic gardening on our lives

Perhaps the most trending topic of discussion in the farming world is organic vs inorganic. We have all heard that organic food is better for us, we should switch to chemical free food and so on. But what about gardening which includes only ornamental plants or grasses which we do not consume? Do we need to switch to organic methods for gardening too?

Well to answer this question it depends upon how invested are you to save our planet and eventually the human race. Usually we humans are careful, cautious and conscious and intentional about our health and things which can affect our well-being. Growing ornamental plants do not affect us directly because we do not consume flowers or the grass grown in lawns. But indirectly using chemicals to make these plants appear more attractive and healthy is harming us.

How inorganic gardening affects us?

If we use chemical sprays and fertilizers to nourish our plants and to save them from attack of pests and diseases, we our exposing ourselves directly to these harmful products. While spraying them or even after weeks or months of their use, these chemicals have a tendency to retain themselves in air which we breathe or on the surface of plants. While enjoying the scenic beauty of our gardens we are in close proximity with them, and that is another path through which these chemicals can reach in our system.

Not only humans, but other organisms like birds, bees, fishes, cows etc. are affected and infects us too. The fertilizers we used are not entirely consumed by plants. The left over salts can run off along the rain water into our reservoirs or can accumulate in the soil overtime. The water in these reservoirs is used for irrigation of crops, pisciculture and even supplied to our homes. Consuming food cultivated using contaminated water or soil is slowly deteriorating our health. Through food chains these chemicals get accumulated in our system over the years and can cause deadly diseases like cancer.

If we look at the bigger picture, we need to switch to more sustainable measures in gardening too even it is just for recreational purposes only. We can contribute in saving our planet and eventually all living organisms by reducing the use of fertilizers, pesticides and fungicides not only in our food, but also the gardens or house plants. One can easily learn how to prepare organic compost, fertilizers or crop protectants through books or our courses. If we are switching to eco-friendly products for our day to day lives, why not take a step ahead and switch to “Eco-friendly gardening” too!

Written by
Antra Thada

Does gardening really help with mental health issues? Let’s find out…

Let’s get real and practical for this post. There are a lot of people in this world who are facing mental health issues. In a country like ours, mental health is not given the attention and priority it should receive. But this post is NOT about whether society should accept mental problems as illness or not. This post is about how being around plants or recreational activities like gardening could solve certain type of issues related to your state of mind.

As a plant lover myself, I really feel calm and peaceful when I am around them or while taking care of our little friends. It feels good to watch them grow, work around them or simply embrace them. As we all are too engaged with our electronic devices, in fact you are reading this (and I am writing this) on one too! We are pretty much indoors and interaction with nature happens barely or only during vacations. People are now leaning towards turning their homes and offices into green spaces. We can surely agree on one thing, we all feel happy after seeing different types of plants around us or it feels so satisfying to see a flower bloom right in front of us. And what about cooking food with veggies and herbs which were cultivated in our own homes? I don’t know why but they do taste different, don’t they?

Setting every feeling aside, one thing does cross our minds that whether all these things surreal or backed up by any type of scientific evidences?

It would be interesting to know that many scientific studies and psych evaluations are carried out which have proven that having plants around actually improve our mental status. Let us have a look at some of these studies.

  • Interaction with indoor plants may reduce psychological and physiological stress by suppressing autonomic nervous system activity in young adults: a randomized crossover study was conducted by Lee et al. in 2015 with the aim to establish a connection between mental health and presence of indoor plants. The team conducted their study on 24 young adult males. They were divided into two groups of twelve each and the first group was given a task to be completed on computer while the second group did transplanting of plants in their office. The groups were made to switch tasks after a certain time and were evaluated with specific scientific protocols. Interestingly the people felt more comfortable, relaxed and soothed after interaction with plants as compared to their computers. So, it was concluded that interaction with indoor plants reduces mental stress and makes humans feel more calm and composite.
  • In another paper published by Thompson, R., 2018, it stated that gardening has many positive effects on humans. In today’s era problems like anxiety, fear and depression have spiked a lot and can be overcome with the help of gardening regularly.
  • A study was conducted in Japan where people who lived near plants and were regularly involved in gardening displayed reduced symptoms of stress, fear, anxiety, anger, sadness etc. Not only this, people who were suffering from high blood pressure also experienced reduction in high BP, reduced muscle tension and pulse rate (Nakamura R. and Fujii E, 1990).

There are countless studies which are conducted by renowned scientists and institutions which prove that having plants around will help us in improving our mental health. If you are suffering from depression, fear, anxiety or any other kind of problem, having plants around and interacting them will surely reduce your issues if not resolve them. If you know someone who is facing the same problems, it would be my humble request to you to share this post with them. May be by doing this you are making someone’s life better.

In the end as I always say,

Happy gardening folks!

Written by
Antra Thada


  • Lee, M.S., Lee, J., Park, B.J. and Miyazaki, Y., 2015. Interaction with indoor plants may reduce psychological and physiological stress by suppressing autonomic nervous system activity in young adults: a randomized crossover study. Journal of physiological anthropology, 34(1), pp.1-6. doi: 10.1186/s40101-015-0060-8
  • Thompson, R., 2018. Gardening for health: a regular dose of gardening. Clinical Medicine, 18(3), p.201.
  • Nakamura R. and Fujii E. Studies of the characteristics of the electroencephalogram when observing potted plants. Techn Bull Fac Hort Chiba Univ. 1990;43:177–83.

The Shocking Truth About Soil Flushing: Your Plants Will Thank You!

Plants have become an integral part of our home and work place, more so our lives, and it is important to take care of our green friends. One of the major problems encountered in houseplants is accumulation of salts due to watering. There are several minerals dissolved in tap water which get deposited in the soil overtime. Salt or mineral deposition can also occur due to application of fertilizers. This problem is usually resolved by changing the potting mix but sometimes it can get worse. The plants can show symptoms like browning of leaves from edges and margins, browning or rotting of roots, slow or stunted growth etc.

So what exactly is flushing?

Basically, it is providing plant with excess water for a short duration of time, which dissolves the excess salts and then flushing it. By removing the salts, you will improve the quality of soil and provide better conditions to the roots for growing and flourishing.

Why do potted plants need flushing?

Usually the plants growing in your garden (on the ground) are regularly flushed with rain water. They have a natural drainage system of soil on land which reduces the accumulation of salt and minerals. This facility is not available for potted plants which is why they need flushing.

Procedure for flushing:

  • Take your plant somewhere near a water drainer or sink to avoid creating a mess.
  • Start pouring water into the soil and saturate it until the water starts to flow freely from the pot.
  • Repeat this process 4-5 times
  • Let the plant sit for 24-48 hours in order to drain all the excess water
  • Wipe out the crystals formed with the help of tissue or a clean cloth.

Pro tip: Using rain water or filtered water for flushing will give out better results.

How often should we flush the plants?

You can follow up with flushing once in every 6 to 8 months. You can also flush the plants before fertilization as it will help in removal of excess salts. Incorporate flushing in your care and maintenance schedule of your plants and it will help them flourish and accelerate their growth quickly.

Written by
Antra Thada

Unleash the Power of Nature to Clean Your Home: The easy guide to making Bioenzymes!

With changing times as increasing awareness we all have started opting for ecofriendly products, biodegradable, recyclable products, and we try to replace almost every product which we can, with an ecofriendly sustainable one. One of the major source of chemicals and pollutants in our day to day lives are cleaning solutions and their plastic containers. Now we don’t want to take our hygiene for granted of course, so here is an alternative yet equally effective product – BIOENZYME.

Have you ever observed that the fruit peels we throw out, dry out after some days after which they are reduced in size and ultimately vanish. Ever wondered what happened to them? The microbes ate them up. Yes, the little organisms which cannot be seen with naked eyes, are constantly working on them and breaking down complex materials into simpler ones which can be absorbed by other organisms. This is what biodegradation is all about.

What are bioenzymes?

Bioenzymes are cleaners which are made up of good bacteria which help us clean wastes, stains and odors. They produce certain enzymes which are responsible for break down certain molecules into simpler molecules.

How to make these?

  • Instead of throwing peels of your citrusy fruits like citrus, orange, lemons and papaya, banana and pineapples, store them in an air tight container after washing them. You can also cut them in small pieces to accelerate the process.
  • Make sure the container is made of plastic, as glass containers can explode due to air pressure.
  • In the next step, add some jaggery.
  • Lastly add some dry yeast powder and water and let them ferment for around one month.
  • Ratio of all the ingredients – 1 part of jaggery, 3 parts of fruit peels, 10 parts of water and 10 to 12 grams of yeast.
  • You can also add rotten or dry fruits in the container.
  • Make sure to open the container once in a week to release the air which has collected in it.
  • Store the container in a warm dry place, away from direct sunlight.

How to use them?

Take the freshly prepared bioenzyme and dilute it according to yourself. For eg., 50 ml would be enough to mop floor of 2 – 3 rooms, 30 ml would be good for your bathroom or kitchen tiles etc. With time you will have the understanding of how much concentration is required.

Benefits –

  • The first and obvious benefit is you will save environment from hazardous chemicals.
  • These bioenzymes are great for cleaning crevices and cracks.
  • Add some soap nuts to it and it will be good enough to clean your oily dishes too.
  • You can use the leftover solution to water your plants too as it is completely natural.
  • The harmful effects of gases from chemicals and different kind of allergies that can occur can be avoided by the use of bioenzymes.
  • You can use these as fertilizers for your plants too.
  • You will reduce wet waste of your house.
  • They will eliminate harmful bacteria too from your house that too naturally.
  • They will continue to sterilize the surface even after you have cleaned it.
  • They also help in eliminating bad odours in a much effective manner as compared to chemical cleaners.
  • If you have babies or pets in your house, they are completely safe to use.

Next time, instead of throwing away the fruit and fruit peels, try and utilize it for preparation of bioenzymes or fertilizers. This way you will do your bit for the environment and live a healthy and safe lifestyle for yourself too! Also save a lot of money that you would have otherwise spent on buying the chemicals!

Happy fermenting folks!

Written by
Antra Thada

Transform Your Aquarium into an Underwater Oasis: The Ultimate Guide to Aquatic Plants – Part 2

Plants brighten up the place no matter where they are present. Even under water there is a whole new world of species of plants which we are unaware of. You can grow some of these in your aquarium which will give a homely feeling to the fishes and you can enjoy the view too. Let’s have a look at some of the plants which you can grow easily.

Foreground plants

These plants are placed in front of the aquarium as they are short in height and will make the background more visible. They are also known as carpet plants because they grow more horizontally rather than vertically.

Crytopcoryne Wendtii

This plant grows for only 6 to 8 inches and has a rosette of leaves. the colour of leaves may vary from red to brown depending upon the light in aquarium.

Anubia Nana

You can place some rocks in water and grow this plant. It has dark green coloured leaves and can grow upto 8 inches. It keeps the tank water fresh and oxygenated for the fishes.

  • Dwarf baby tears

This plant is a cluster of small green leaves and a treat to the eye. It forms a dense carpet with proper lightning.

  • Java fern

Ferns are easy to grow and make the place look good too. This fern is good for aquariums as it grows upto 7 to 8 inches and in low to moderate light. It has dark green coloured leaves growing out from a rhizome.

  • Java moss

This plant is very beautiful and eye catching and is perfect addition to your aquarium. It can grow upto 4 inches and has needle like leaves growing in a cluster with beautiful soft hairs striking out from it.

Middle or Background plants

These plants are taller than foreground plants and would look perfect when placed near sides or attached to the lateral walls. You can also place the tallest plants at the back wall which will make it look like different levels of plants are perfectly arranged. Here are a few plants which you can prefer.

  • Amazon sword

Just like its name this plant has large green coloured broad leaves which look like a sword. It requires moderate light and lose substrate to grow. It looks like a beautiful bunch of leaves arranged perfectly.

  • African water fern

This fern anchors itself to some solid substrate like wood or a rock, once established it is pretty easy to maintain and is very slow growing. Its leaves has a darker shade of green and are cut delicately around the edges.

  • Dwarf aquarium water lily

Lilies are beautiful flowers which are lovely to look at. It has uniquely shaped leaves which makes it attractive as a foliage plant too. Its leaves are triangular in shape with red, green or pink colouration. It can bloom in shallow waters so you can keep it partially submerged if you want the flowers.

  • Water wisteria

If you have time to prune plants in your aquarium, then you should definitely grow this plant. It can grow upto 20 inches height and 10 inch in width which can block light of aquarium. The leaves are dark green along with little cuts along the length. It is good for large aquariums but you can keep it in smaller ones with regular pruning as it can grow 2 to 3 inches per week.

Indian waterweed

This delicate waterweed will make your aquarium look more lifelike. It can grow upto 24 inches with long green leaves, it gives a bushy appearance.

Rotala Rotundifolia

Let’s add some colour to your aquarium and take a break from traditional green coloured plants. With some good light this plant will develop red coloured leaves. It can grow upto 12 to 15 inches tall and gives a bushy appearance.


It is commonly known as Brahmi and can attain a height of around 12 inches. It can grow above or in water. So you know you can shift it in your garden from your aquarium and vice – a – versa. It has small oval light to dark green coloured leaves which grow on a long stem. This plant has spiny light green leaves which grow on a long stem. It can be used as a background plant and it does not block much light. It can grow upto 24 inches.

So use up your imagination and decorate your aquarium with actual live plants and enjoy the view. Even the fishes will feel more homely and enjoy being in a natural habitat. These plants will also provide oxygen to the fishes to breathe and keep the tank clean.

Written by
Antra Thada

Transform Your Aquarium into an Underwater Oasis: The Ultimate Guide to Aquatic Plants – Part 1

When it comes to growing plants in water, we all switch to the easier choice which is getting fake or artificial plants. But we all know at the end of the day that they are fake. So why to compromise on such things? You can create your very own ecosystem in an aquarium too and add some live plants to it. There are a few basic requirements that needs to be taken care of and then you will be ready to have actual plants in your aquarium.


Since we are talking about plants in water, it is a very important factor to consider. Aquariums mostly have freshwater and for plants to grow in them, a pH between 6.5 to 7.5 should be maintained. Try to maintain the temperature between 23 to 28oC which is optimum for both plants and fishes.


Since plants depend on sunlight for the process of making food through photosynthesis, it becomes a necessity to provide them with the same. Artificial lights of varying intensities can be used to meet their needs. Some plants need high intensity light while some need low intensity of light. You can adjust them accordingly and also keep in mind that plants will need only a few hours (6 to 10 hrs) of light four growth. If you want the plants to grow tall then high intensity lights for longer duration would be perfect. Click here to know all about different types of grow lights.


Along with light, carbon dioxide is also required for photosynthesis. CO2 is dissolved in water from where it can be absorbed by the plants. Usually, we don’t need to provide extra CO2 in water, but if you want your plants to grow vigorously and give them a lustrous shine, you can surely go for it. You can use pressurized injection method which works in sync with light to supply CO2 or you can even use yeast to generate CO2 in water. If you have fishes, you don’t need to worry about the CO2 supply.


It is quite obvious that plants will need nutrients to grow. Depending upon the type of plants that you are growing, nutrients need to be supplemented in water. The best part is that nitrogen and phosphorous requirement will be met by fish wastes so you don’t need to worry about that. For the rest of the nutrients, you can prepare a mixture in proper ratio and supply them in a powdered form which dissolves easily in the water. Alternatively, you can also use some capsules which can be inserted near the base of the plants in the substrate to provide them the required nutrition.


Last but not the least, you need to prepare a so called ‘potting mix’ for your aquarium. Try to choose a material with plenty of pore space or which is breathable. It should be made up of large sand particles, pebbles, coarse gravel etc. It should allow the roots to breathe. Avoid using fine sand or clayey soil as it will absorb water and can suffocate the roots and can also cause different types of diseases. So, plan and gather all the materials you need and prepare your own garden of live plants but this time it will be under the water!

Check out our following post to know what type of plants are most suitable for your aquarium.

Written by
Antra Thada

Revolutionize Your Gardening Game: The Ultimate Guide to Fertilizer Application

All the nutrients required by the plants cannot be provided by the soil or water alone. The soil might be deficient in certain elements which are essential and can hamper their growth. And we don’t want our beautiful plants to wilt and become brown due to lack of proper nutrition. So today let’s learn the different forms of fertilizers and how we can apply them.

  • Solid fertilizers – Most of the nutrient supplements are available in solid forms like powder, pellets or small bead like structures known as granules. They can be applied through –
  • Broadcasting – It is one of the most basic and common methods. You just need to sprinkle the fertilizers as evenly as you could in your pots or in your garden soil. One dose can be applied before sowing and one, 3-5 weeks after sowing.

This method consumes very less time and hardly any precision is needed. The major flaw is that the fertilizers are washed away with water and are not absorbed by the plants completely. It may also lead to the growth of unwanted plants i.e. weeds.

  • Placement – It is a modified form of broadcasting as in this we carefully place a limited quantity of fertilizer at regular distances. This help us in controlling weeds and minimises the loss of chemicals. The fertilizers can be placed on the top of the soil or you can plough the soil a little bit to place them a few centimetres below the top layer. Deep placement can also minimize the loss due to water runoff.
  • Liquid fertilizers – These are liquid formulations which can be added to water and can be applied through –
  • Foliar application – They can be directly sprayed on the leaves of the plants. They are relatively easier to apply and less time consuming. One of the major advantage of foliar spray is that the nutrients are directly applied and absorbed by the leaves which result in faster growth.  For potted plants foliar spray is the most convenient and effective method.
  • Soil application – Instead of spraying the fertilizer formulations, we can use a pressure pump to inject the fertilizers into the soil directly. The same form of fertilizer can be applied in our backyards by creating furrows and filling them with fertilizer liquid so that the soil can absorb it. This is a non-pressure technique. Liquid formulations are mostly used for micronutrients and contain more than one nutrient in a solution. They are very useful in reviving a dying plant or plants with extreme symptoms of deficiencies.

Note – Please wear a mask and a pair of gloves while applying the chemicals as direct contact or inhalation may trigger an allergic reaction.

Written by
Antra Thada

Sshhh… We are spilling the beans on carrots and radishes!

Now this might sound pretty interesting and appealing to you. Growing leafy veggies, salad greens or small shrub plants is usually what we do in containers or in balconies. But why stop there? It’s time to think outside the box, for the box! Yes, it is possible to successfully grow carrots and radishes in balconies. For that purpose, firstly gather all the things required.

Materials required

  • Containers –

As carrots and radishes are root vegetables, they require deep pots for growing. Prefer a container with at least 12 inches of depth, the more the better. They would require their fair share of space to grow too so take a container with good diameter (approximately 8 to 10 inches). This will fit around 15 to 20 carrots depending upon the varieties. If you are choosing to grow round radishes then the containers can be a little shallow.

  • Soil –

This factor is very important for root veggies as they won’t grow if the soil isn’t right. Underground vegetables need porous and easy to penetrate soil in order to grow perfect and beautifully in shape. Sandy loamy soil works best which is highly porous. If you are making your own soil mix, keep the sandy soil ratio a little higher to make the potting mix loose for the veggies to grow. You can add compost, garden soil, cocopeat and sand in 1:1:1:1 ratio respectively.

Which varieties to grow?

There are multiple options available for you to choose from.

In case of carrots danvers and nantes will work best for containers as they can grow upto 7 inches.

Radishes are of two types basically – round or oblong/ cylindrical. Round varieties are more suitable for containers as they won’t go too deep. You have multiple options to choose from such as watermelon radish, pink radish, daikon white radish (long type) etc.

When to grow carrots and radishes?

These root vegetables are mostly grown in cooler climates. So for Indian conditions, you can sow them around October or November. If your area have long winters you can even plant them around February.

Sowing and Spacing

The seeds of carrots are very small so plant them near to the surface and loosely cover with a thin layer of soil. In case of radish, you can sow them a little deep (3 – 4 cm) without worrying. It is important to provide optimum spacing to these veggies as they can get crowded easily which will affect their growth. The optimum distance between two plants should be between 50 to 70 cm.

What about pollination?

Interestingly, we consume the roots of these plants and their seeds which are formed after pollination only. So even in absence of pollinators you can enjoy these root veggies.


Both of them require around 6 to 8 hours of sunlight. As they are grown in winters the days will be short and sunlight will be limited.


Regularly water the plants and keep the soil damp. Too much water can kill oxygenation which can rot the roots. If you feel that top soil is dry then irrigate immediately.


Root veggies are pretty easy to spot when they mature. About 3/4th or 1 inch of root will pop out with vibrant colours. You can dig them up with a fork and pull them out gently. It takes around 70 to 80 days for carrots while radishes mature in just 20 to 30 days. You can plant radishes regularly and consume them frequently.

Carrots are loaded with vitamin A and beta carotene along with lots of fibre which is good for digestion and keeps blood sugar level in control. Radish provides antioxidants which will keep your body young and important minerals such as calcium and potassium.

So, this winter season, grow your own root veggies and enjoy the process as well as the end product.

Happy gardening folks!

Written by
Antra Thada