Beginner’s Guide – Caring for Houseplants

Growing houseplants is an ideal way to begin gardening, while at the same adding to the beauty of your home. Similar to other gardening efforts, indoor gardens can be as uncomplicated or complex as you would like. Listed below are some tips on how to get started.

Choosing Plants

For starters, go for healthy, vigorously growing plants without any diseases symptoms or distress. Go for plants that are forgiving, instead of ones with special needs. Some houseplants that you can put into consideration are:

  • Snake Plant.
  • Peace Lily.
  • Dieffenbachia
  • Rubber Plant.
  • Spider Plant.

For more ideas of which plant to choose have a look at our article about 10 very simple plants to grow indoors.

Plant in widnow sill
Mother-in-Law’s Tongue. Photo credit: Chiot’s Run / Foter / CC BY-NC

Light and Location

Generally, the ideal place for houseplants is a bright window that receives direct sun for just part of the day. Houseplants do well when there is light, but not all really need to bask in the sun. Look for the plants label and adhere to instructions concerning the light requirements. Here are some tips:

  • Increased or Direct Sunlight: Bright windows facing southwest or south.
  • Moderate or Indirect Sunlight: Windows facing east, and areas in bright rooms not near the windows.
  • Little Light: Windows facing north and dark rooms.

Temperature

Houseplants are normally tropical plants, so it is crucial for your indoor climate to have same conditions as these as much as possible. Generally, your houseplants will do well when:

  • Temperatures are between 65 degrees- 75 digress during the day.
  • During the night, temperatures should not be more than 10 degrees cooler. Usually tropical plants begin to get affected by temperatures below 55 degrees.
  • There are no immediate high temperate changes. The plants should not be near drafts, fireplaces, heaters, and cold windows during winter.
Keep the plants together
Photo credit: NCReedplayer / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Humidity

Houseplants do well when there is humidity, especially during winter when indoor climate is so dry. You can increase the humidity around your plants by:

  • Arranging plants together.
  • Putting plants on a pebble tray.
  • Incorporating a humidifier.
  • Slightly Misting plants with water

During winter, you may need to place them together in a warm humid room, and then put them back to their normal spots when spring sets in.

Pots and Soil

Garden pots in different sizesThe pot is the plants whole life, so it is crucial to have the appropriate size and type, with soil that drains well and with a lot of nutrients. Below are some tips for having plants remain healthy in pots.

Size: Houseplants require a good sized pot. Too Large and the quantity of moist will make the roots rot. Too small, and the roots will not receive enough nutrients. Mostly, your bought houseplant will do fine in its present pot for one year. Most houseplants will get the benefit of being put in another pot every few years. Every time you put it another pot, increase by one pot size.

Drainage: The plants need to eliminate extra water, so go for a pot with holes at the bottom, and add a layer of gravel in the pot before putting soil. Place the pot on a drainage tray or inside a bigger decorative planter.

Soil: Houseplants require soil that drains well and is rich in nutrients. Go for a packaged houseplant potting mix: garden soil tends to be heavy for most plants. Specialized soil can be used for certain plants such as orchids, cacti and Africa violets, but more than often, a general indoor potting mix does okay.

Watering

Watering can is a sensitive feature of indoor gardening. Some plants prefer less water than others, some tend to react to wet foliage, and certain plants water need to be changed seasonally. By experimenting with new houseplants, you will get familiar with every plant’s water needs and growing cycle. In the initial stages, here is what you will do:

  • Once per week, water your plants. Dip your finger around half an inch into the soil. If the soil feels dry, it needs to be watered. If it feels moist, then be patient.
  • Water your plants cautiously until a small amount runs out the bottom and flows into the drainage tray.
  • Don’t let water get into the foliage.
  • Never let your plant stay in water, especially if it is a decorative planter as it could drown.
  • During winter, minimize the watering to maybe every 10days to 2 weeks. Winter water can be very cold, go for water that is in room temperature to prevent your plant from being shocked.
  • If your plant requires more water, it will alert you by appearing drooped. Overwatering can also affect your plant, so only water when there is need to.

Fertilizing

In the growing period (spring to beginning of fall, for most plants), houseplants benefit from some extra nutrients. There are several types of houseplant fertilizer:

  • Instant Powders that are added to water.
  • Premixed Liquids that are put in place when watering your plants.
  • Slow-release pellets are applied after every few months.

Begin with a basic balanced, general purpose plant nutrients in any form that best suits you. As you gain more experience, you may need to use specialized products for certain plants. Adhere to the guidelines on the package cautiously as excess fertilizer can harm your plant.

caring for houseplantsHouse Keeping

Your plants will do well with a little housekeeping. When watering, you can also:

  • Carefully remove dust and pollen from the leaves.
  • Eliminate dead, yellow or brown leaves.
  • Get rid of spent blooms.
  • Remove stems that appear to be back leggy-looking, to help them branch out.
  • Circulate the plants to assist them to grow evenly.
  • Check for insects and infections. If you notice anything growing or crawling on the plants, spray your plant using a little soapy water and then careful wipe it clean. If this does not show any success, check with your garden center for a houseplant spray. Tag along the leaf with a problem, or the description of the insect, with you to know the product that will work best.

Growing indoor houseplants is is great way to add beauty to your house. From amateurs to the experts, you will find something to learn and experiment with. If you are not sure what houseplant will best work for you, you can get the right information from the experts.