We are looking to plant a tree inside a newly constructed home (as per attached image in the box where the ladder is). The plant will be below a skylight with access to water.
Would appreciate guidance towards the selection of the plant based on its environment. The house is located at Lawrence and Leslie and anyone is welcome to come and take a look at the site.
Hello , thank you for reaching out to the Toronto Master Gardeners for advice on your planter. Its wonderful that you have thought ahead of including a tree in your new home. There are several plants that spring to mind but first let us look at the elements necessary for the success of your indoor tree.
The planter itself. Looking at your photo it seems that your planter is a good depth, this is great as roots will expand as the tree grows, but what about drainage? You will have to ensure that excess water will be able to drain away so as the roots will not become waterlogged.
Your soil. As your tree will be growing in a container and not in the earth outside, you must use a planting medium that is actually “soil less”. Soil such as what you use in the outdoors will become rock hard inside. Make sure you purchase a planting medium that is special designed for container use.
Plant food. As your planting medium is “soil less” it will lack the nutrients found in garden soil. You will have to feed your plant to make up for this. Plants have various nutrient requirements, so research the type and regularity most appropriate for your tree.
The fun part! Choosing your tree! A huge factor in choosing your tree is how much light you have. You did mention a sky light, but you should monitor just how much light and intensity of that light will be able to your new tree. For example; are there trees or buildings outside that will interfere with the directness of the light?
Here are some suggestions for low or indirect light:
Weeping Fig (Ficus benjamina). This is a very popular indoor tree, it does very well in low or indirect light situations and can tolerate dry conditions. It does not do well with change! Change in temperature or sudden light changes will cause its leaves to drop.
An “on trend” relative of the weeping fig is the Fiddle Leaf Fig (Ficus lyrata). Like its cousin it will leaf drop with any drastic change, and it does need a bit more direct light than the Weeping variety.
An old fashioned, easy care favorite is an Umbrella Tree (Schefflera). It is tolerant of low light but in those conditions it can become leggy. There are some very attractive variegated varieties now available.
Here are a few suggestions for bright or direct sun
Dwarf banana plant (Musa oriana). This is great fun to grow indoors and is sure to garner lots of comments from your guests. Dwarf in this case does not mean small, given the right conditions this plant can grow up to 10 feet. It does need direct sun for much of the day and regular fertilizer and it does not tolerate conditions that are too dry. I had a banana growing successfully in my condo for several years. This year it become scruffy, so I cut it down but left the root in the soil and it has sprouted 3 new babies!
The needs of the Rubber Tree (Ficus elastica) are similar to the banana, they need bright light, regular fertilizing and like to be kept moist. Dust does collect on it’s glossy leaves, so regular wiping is also helpful.
Another trendy indoor tree often seen in design magazines is Norfolk Island Pine (Araucaria heterophylla). This graceful Pine need bright light, or it will become leggy. It likes to be kept moist but again, not overly wet. If given the right conditions, it can outgrow your house! So, you will have to remove it at some point – but don’t worry it is a slow grower.
Here is our guide that may be helpful to you. It is a beginners guide to growing house plants, it will give you some useful information on how to feed and keep your indoor plants healthy.
Good luck! it sounds like a really interesting project.