CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- One of my earliest memories dates back to the conversation I had with my dad when I asked him if I could have my own piece of the yard to plant, garden and harvest.
I spent years nurturing tomato, cucumber and pumpkin plants, along with anything I could help with in my parents' garden. One door down, I'd spend hours alongside my grandmother watching and learning from her about her beautifully flowering gardens and the art of flower arranging.
By the time I was a young adult, I was driven by a great passion for gardening and was thankful for the years spent developing my green thumb.
Deprived of the time and space needed to nurture a garden during my college years, I was ready and excited to dive back into the adventure of growing plants when I got an apartment. Lacking certain things like a balcony or a yard of my own, I eagerly took on the world of gardening indoors.
This quickly proved to be a rude awakening. I killed plant after plant and my once-green thumb hastily turned to black. I realized that growing plants indoors requires a whole new set of skills, patience and commitment.
According to Kenny Proops, a fourth-year medical student who lives in Charleston, growing plants indoors is all about manipulating the soil mixture, light supplement and watering habits to imitate the natural habitat of the plant. Proops has a rich understanding of the plants and their origins, which helps him understand what it takes to keep them thriving.
Much of learning to garden, indoors or out, is achieved by trial and error. Proops, nearly an expert with orchids now, has had his share of trials in learning to nurture the plant. He recalls over-watering many an orchid and later hearing the tip "If you think it's time to water it, wait two days."
In that regard, it's so helpful to share tips, advice, failures and discoveries with the people around you. I started with next to no knowledge on growing plants indoors, and here are some things that I picked up along the way that I wish I'd known from the start.
One of the easiest plants to grow indoors is succulents. You'd have to try really hard to kill a succulent plant. They require almost no attention and will survive in most light settings. That being said, I've killed too many succulents to count. I'm drawn to succulents for their unusual and decorative forms, and they are sold almost everywhere. I learned, though, that they are so low maintenance and need to be watered only about once a week, maybe a even less.
Proops emphasizes, "Succulents need a soil that produces a reliable drainage system, found in rocky or sandy mixtures." You'll know it's time to water your succulent plant when the soil is very dry to the touch. Succulents are small in size and are a lot of fun to decorate with, as you can group and arrange them anywhere needed.