How to keep indoor plants healthy and pest-free.
Caring for houseplants the right way is just as important as picking the right one. With a little preparation and some care, you can learn how to take care of your house plants and keep them looking beautiful. If you notice problems, use our helpful tips on houseplant care to solve them before they get serious.
Start with the Soil
“Soil” is a bit of a misnomer when it comes to the growing media used for indoor plants. The best growing media is soil-less and is a combination of equal parts peat moss, vermiculite/perlite, and compost.
Most of the time, people are concerned they aren’t watering enough, when in fact they are watering far too much! Plants don’t want to have “wet feet,” a friendly term for when their roots are absolutely saturated from sitting in a puddle for days.
The most accurate assessment of a plant’s need for water is accomplished by testing its weight. Pick up the container of the plant and see how much it weighs; the lighter it is, the more it needs a drink. Unless noted otherwise, most houseplants would prefer being slightly dry than soaking wet.
That means a watering schedule of once or twice a week is suitable for most plants, where you water the plant thoroughly but infrequently. When I water my houseplants, I will pour water onto the soil at a slow, deliberate pace, until the water starts escaping from the drainage holes of the container. That’s your signal to stop watering!
Placing a tray underneath the potted plant’s container is the best way to catch that excess water and prevent a mess. These can be bought for a few dollars, if you want a plain and unadorned plastic tray. Alternatively, you can purchase more decorative trays for more money.
Purchasing a simple spray bottle is also helpful for houseplants. A light misting once or twice a day is usually beneficial. Remember that we’re trying to duplicate the natural environment for these plants, and that means humidity and misting!
Some plants want more water, and some want less… but that’s what this guide is for!
Light is just as important as water. All plants need light to carry out their necessary biological processes. I’m looking at you, photosynthesis!
Although all plants need some light to grow, some plants require a lot less than others. Think again of their native habitat and imagine the dark undergrowth where these plants thrive. They receive heavily filtered light but still keep on kicking.
Houseplants typically require high light (six or more hours a day), medium light (four to six hours a day), or low light (less than three hours a day). Plants will either require bright or direct light (sunlight from a south-facing window) or indirect or filtered light (sunlight through a curtain or light from a bulb).
If plants don’t get the light they need, they won’t necessarily die, but they will stop producing new growth.
Although plants carry out photosynthesis to process the sugars they need to survive, they also need a more direct form of food to carry out growing processes. Providing fertilizers to your houseplants helps ensure they will remain happy and healthy.
The food can be delivered via a granule that breaks down over time, or it can be added more directly via a water soluble fertilizer. Granules generally need to be applied once every few months, while water soluble fertilizers should be applied every two weeks or so. Read the directions on a specific fertilizer to see what is recommended.
The Right Temperature, Good Air Flow, and the Best Face
Aim to keep the plant in a warm environment with some air circulation, and rotate its face!
Almost all houseplants need a minimum temperature of 55ºF to survive. Keep plants away from areas of cold drafts in the winter. The warmer it gets for houseplants, the happier they are!
Airflow is crucial to maintaining a healthy house plant. This can easily be achieved by running ceiling fans in your home to keep the air circulating. Still air, on the other hand, can cause a host of ailments in your houseplant. That’s why all greenhouses have those giant fans running.
Use a cloth to wipe down the leaves of houseplants occasionally, to prevent the white buildup and coating of dust that can impact their health.
If your plant is in a sunny location, it’s important to give it a small rotation regularly to ensure even growth. If you imagine the “face” of your plant is facing the main light source, turn the plant one-quarter turn each week to help guarantee even growth.
This article first appeared on gardenerspath.com