Grow healthier houseplants with a little Latin rhythm

March 22, 2023

Did you know you could dance the Cha Cha with your plants in order to promote growth? The Cha Cha comes from Cuba and evolved from a slow version of the Mambo. Indoor plants really do grow better when they are exposed to music between 115Hz and 250Hz, because the vibrations from this music are similar to sounds found in nature. In fact, classical music and light jazz are not only soothing to human ears but also best for your plants.

Music makes tiny pores or stomata on plants stay open longer so they absorb more air, and the plants grow faster. Another key to happy houseplants is to keep them in a properly sized pot. 

When you plant flowers or vegetables directly in the garden, their roots aren't restricted, so they can seek out soil moisture and nutrients. Potted plants, however, are limited to whatever is available in their container’s soil. A pot that is too small can make the plant rootbound, which makes the root system unable to retain water and absorb nutrients from the soil.

Try to use pots that are at least half as wide as the plant is tall. So if the tomato plant you want to grow has a mature height of 24 inches, choose a pot at least 12 inches across and 12 inches deep. The larger size pot you can handle, the better the root system will be.

When starting plants from seed, use a large enough pot so you won't have to transplant them into larger ones as they grow. As careful as you may be when transplanting, it disrupts a plant's growth and can cause shock. Use good potting soil, not dirt from the garden. Outdoor soils are often too heavy and compacted. Garden soil will also contain insects and disease spores.

You need to fertilize plants in pots more often than in an outdoor garden. It is also important that you do not over-fertilize, which can do more harm than good. Try using a liquid fertilizer at half strength each time you water. Avoid harsh chemical fertilizers, because toxic salts build up in the soil and burn the roots. Use a fertilizer made for the type of plant you are growing. Vegetables such as tomatoes use more phosphorous and less nitrogen than leafy greens such as spinach or lettuce.

To get the best harvest, place your plants where they get 6 to 8 hours of bright sunlight daily. A south-facing window will be the brightest. Leafy greens such as lettuce, Swiss chard, and spinach need less light and can get by with just 3 to 5 hours of sunlight each day.

You can also keep your potted vegetables on a balcony, patio, driveway, or even on the roof. Remember that larger containers are heavier and more cumbersome than smaller pots. Very large containers when filled with soil can even be too heavy for some balconies.

Be careful about watering, too, since excess water will not only add weight, but also make the potting soil soggy, which can lead to disease and root rot. Because water drains out of potted plants rather quickly, it flushes out nutrients along with the salts that tend to build up in potted plants.

Pot up some vegetables and put on the music. You and your plants will dance to a harvest of tomatoes and leafy greens. Cha cha.



  • Paul Barbano writes about gardening from his home in Rehoboth Beach. Contact him by writing to P. O. Box 213, Lewes, DE 19958.

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