Houseplants make a wonderful addition to any home. The key to keeping them alive and well is understanding their basic care needs. Here is a list of the essential tips for indoor plant care to help you get started.
What do indoor plants need?
The good news is that the majority of indoor plants are not complicated to care for. These plant care tips are meant to help you understand the basic needs of most houseplants. We will also guide you on what to choose to help you create your own indoor garden.
After you read through these tips, you’ll have the basics on getting plants to grow and thrive in your home so you can create your own indoor garden!
I briefly cover all points in this post. Be sure to click on the links for more helpful information.
1) Buy Houseplants that Fit Your Lifestyle & Your Home’s Environment
Successful plant care starts with the right plant, right place. It’s important to understand that not every plant out there is a good fit for your home and your lifestyle and that’s okay. There are many indoor plants on the market to choose from.
Start with a tried and true easy-care plant. Here’s a list of 15 easy-to-grow houseplants for you. Once you’ve kept that one alive and healthy for a good period of time and your horticultural confidence has grown, move on to more. A word of warning though: indoor plants become an addiction!
If you’re new to houseplants, you might be confused as to where to start. Here are 14 tips that will help when you’re trying to buy houseplants.
Are you interested in tropical plants, succulents, floor plants, desk plants, bromeliads, or tabletop and hanging plants? There are a variety of plants out there and while many have similar needs, you should still do plenty of research before you make a purchase.
2) Choose the Right Pot
If you’re planting directly into a pot like a grow pot or terra cotta pot, you’ll want to purchase ones with drainage holes. This is a hole(s) located on the bottom of the pot which will help the excess water drain so you won’t have to deal with root rot.
When it comes to decorative pots like ceramics, baskets, etc it’s a matter of taste, decor, and budget. There are so many different pots on the market now that sometimes it can be hard to choose. This doesn’t have much to do with indoor plant care but your plants will look better and make you happy when sitting in snazzy pots!
You can purchase plant baskets that give a more casual vibe. Plus, they’re lightweight and easier to move.
3) Choose the Right Spot in Your Home
Light exposure is very important. Too much or too little light can eventually lead to the demise of a houseplant. Some plants require plenty of sunlight, others prefer indirect sunlight, and some will tolerate lower light conditions.
Just know that most houseplants will burn in the direct, hot sun. In lower light conditions select indoor plants will survive but you won’t see much growth.
Related: Check out our favorite Low-Light Houseplants here.
4) Winter Care
Speaking of light exposure, you may have to move your plants to brighter spots in the winter months. I live in the Arizona desert and my plants get the light they need all year long. If you live in a climate with darker winters, moving a plant or 2 might be necessary.
Another key point is to back off on the watering frequency. If you water your plants every 7 days in summer, most likely every 10-14 days will be the sweet spot in winter.
Related: Winter Houseplant Care
5) Don’t Overwater Your Plants
This is another important point. If you’ve purchased houseplants before and feel like they don’t last long or have droopy leaves after a few weeks, then you may have given them too much water.
It can be tricky when you’re a beginner to find the balance between too much water and not enough. Overwatering is the likely culprit for most indoor plants going to the compost pile!
As mentioned previously, it’s good to purchase pots with drainage holes and monitor the soil moisture levels. I recommend a moisture meter if you’re unsure. I use this 1 on all my floor plants before watering them.
Check to see what your plant’s specific watering needs are too.
I’ve done posts and videos on the care of numerous houseplants. I never give advice to the readers or viewers on how often to water their plants because there are so many variables that come into play. Instead, I share how often I water my plants and they can adjust.
Related: How to Water Indoor Plants
6) Fertilize Your Plants When Needed
Houseplants can benefit from regular feeding. Even if you only have 2 or 3 houseplants, at some point they’ll appreciate some nourishment.
Fertilizing indoor plants keeps them healthy and helps them to grow strong. Just like anything, too much can be a bad thing so too fertilize too often and/or use more than the recommended amount.
I feed my plants early spring through early fall because we have a long growing season here.
7) Clean the Leaves
Cleaning houseplants can be done naturally; both larger houseplants and small houseplants.
Sometimes your plants need a little bit of extra care that requires some cleaning. It’s a good idea to wipe off and/or spray the leaves because they can get dusty.
It’s best to do it once or twice a year so they can breathe and respire. This is hard for them to do if there’s a bunch of dust or dirt coating the leaves!
Related: How to Clean Houseplants
8) Keep Your Eye Out For Plant Pests
Plant pests like spider mites, white flies, mealybugs, and aphids can harm your plants. Just know that your plants will probably experience an infestation at one time or another. They slowly suck the sap out of a plant which over time weakens it, stunts the growth, and deforms the flower.
There are a few ways you can get rid of them, and one of our preferred methods is using a homemade spray. Mix 1 tablespoon mild dish soap or Dr. Bronner’s, 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, and 1 cup water. This works on mild infestations.
This is important: Control these pests as soon as you see them. Once the infestation gets bad, they’re very hard to get rid of. Your plant may not recover so take action early on.
Be sure to treat the undersides of the leaves and in the nodes because these are areas pests like to hang out in.
9) Monitor the Humidity Levels
The most telltale sign that indoor plants need more humidity is dry leaves, dry tips, and/or dry edges.
From all that I’ve read, tropical and subtropical houseplants prefer a humidity between 50 – 60%.
I live in the desert and use this gauge to monitor the humidity levels. It’s inexpensive and lets me know if I have to run the humidifier at night.
10) Prune When Needed
Spring and summer are the best time to prune indoor plants. If you live in a climate with temperate winters like me (Tucson, AZ), then early fall is fine too.
There are different reasons for pruning plants. Some plants require little to no pruning, and others more. I cover pruning, along with propagating, in each individual indoor plant care post which you can find in our “Houseplants” section or via searching by name.
Speaking of propagating, it’s a fun perk of having plants. As long as you’re pruning, why not propagate? Along with leaf and stem cuttings, division (dividing a plant into 2 or more plants) is another method of Propagation.
If for some reason you have to prune and/or propagate your indoor plant in winter, no worries. Just know it’s not the optimum time. For the most part, I leave my houseplants be in the colder months.
11) Repot Your Plants When Needed
Repotting is part of indoor gardening. Every plant is different so do some research on the plants you’ve purchased. A loose, general rule is to go up 1 pot size (for instance from 4″ pot to 6″) and to repot every 2-5 years. A loose, general rule is to go up 1 pot size (for instance from 4″ pot to 6″) and to repot every 2-5 years.
Some plants like to grow tight in their pots like succulents, orchids, bromeliads, and snake plants. They won’t need repotting as often.
I cover repotting and soil (different plants have different soil mix preferences) in the care posts and have done individual posts in the “Repotting” section.
Related: Beginner’s Guide To Repotting Plants
Indoor Plant Care
Some Of Our General Houseplant Guides For Your Reference:
- Guide To Watering Indoor Plants
- Beginner’s Guide To Repotting Plants
- 3 Ways To Successfully Fertilize Indoor Plants
- How to Clean Houseplants
- Winter Houseplant Care Guide
- How to Increase Plant Humidity
- Buying Houseplants: 14 Tips For Indoor Gardening Newbies
- How to Water Bromeliads Indoors
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