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Interview with DJ Herda, author of Growing Trees & Shrubs Indoors

Author DJ Herda

Today's blog interview featuring our winning giveaway question, is with DJ Herda, author of the just released book Growing Trees and Shrubs Indoors: Breathe New Life into Your Home with Large Plants 

D.J Is also the author of From Container to Kitchen: Growing Vegetables in Pots and the upcoming book Your Indoor Herb Garden:Growing and Harvesting Herbs at Home.

Why would anyone grow trees and shrubs indoors?

There are several reasons to grow trees and shrubs indoors.

For starters, they look great, and most trees and shrubs grow really well given a minimum of attention and care. They also add dramatic flare to a room and increase the perceived value of the home. Finally, they provide a strong focal point around which you can build your room’s decor.

Secondly, from a health perspective, surrounding ourselves with greenery has been proven to improve cognitive function, sharpen memory, increase attention span, and lower blood pressure. Not even the best-selling prescription drug can do all that--and without any undesirable side effects! Plants also increase the quality of the indoor air, removing toxins that tend to build up indoors and replacing them with pure, life-sustaining, health-promoting oxygen. As if that weren’t enough, the moisture that evaporates from the soil increases humidity, creating a more favorable micro-climate in which human beings can more effectively function.

What are some of the easiest plants to grow indoors?

Figs in all their species and varieties often grow like weeds. From the giant-leaved fiddle-leaf fig to the smaller, more delicate weeping fig, they do well in a wide range of growing conditions and are tolerant of some drought. Also, palms do well, particularly in well-lighted areas of the house, as do the various options available in lilies and philodendron, including the large and sprawling monstera. These are only the tip of the iceberg, though, when it comes to growing large plants indoors. More versatile and often more forgiving than their small, potted “windowsill” brethren such as African violets and string of pearls, they thrive almost despite our best efforts to kill them.

What are the major stumbling blocks people face in growing trees and shrubs indoors?

Two of the biggest headaches are also two of the most easily resolved with a little preplanning. The first is in the plants growing too large for their environment. With some periodic, judicial pruning and heading back, though, that problem can be eliminated. The second is what to do with your plants when you go on vacation for a week or two (or more!). Although numerous electronic timer-driven self-watering systems are available, putting all your plants on an automated schedule could be costly and impractical. How much easier simply to ask a friend, neighbor, or relative to stop by once a week or so and give your plants a thorough watering! Most people enjoy the diversion and love the idea that they’re helping you out in a time of need.

African Milk Tree


Winning Giveaway Question

In the course of your research is there anything you learned that was really surprising?

I learned just how valuable moringa trees are--and how much fun they are to grow from seeds. Once sprouted, they take off in a hurry, adding up to several inches in height a week; after that, their growth rate slows to something more manageable. As a bonus, all parts of the tree are edible and extremely rich in vitamins and trace minerals; so, you can actually harvest and eat the leaves, seeds, and pods. In addition, the trees are attractive and can be headed back to maintain a reasonable height when grown as houseplants.

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