How to Care for Houseplants

How to Care for Houseplants


Tropical plants add color, life, and humidity to any indoor environment.  Many also aid in air purification and promote a relaxing aesthetic within your living space. For almost every location in your home, there is a plant that will thrive! So, what's the secret to success?  Read on to find out.

One of the most critical factors in houseplant heath is selecting the right plant for the right spot.  The majority of houseplants prefer bright indirect light, with perhaps a couple hours of direct sunlight especially in the morning. Flowering plants and those with brightly colored leaves, often need 3-4 hours of direct sunlight daily. Ferns, and those plants with soft, delicate leaves, need protection from hot afternoon sun.  Be sure to check the plant's tag when purchasing or chat with one of our greenhouse experts.  We're always happy to recommend plants that will work well in your living space.

Select a pot one size larger than the container the plant is currently potted. Adequate drainage is a key step towards a thriving houseplant collection. After purchasing a plant, first decide if you will be transplanting it to another container.  If you're ready to transplant to a new container, always be sure to select a pot with drainage holes. If your pot does not have drainage holes, consider placing the plant in the decorative container without actually transplanting it. If you over water, it's very easy to remove the plant and pour out any excess water.  Remember: for most plants, standing water can be detrimental to a plant's health.

Did you know more plants die from over watering rather than under watering? When you first bring your plant home, check the soil each day to see how long it takes to dry out. Then you can establish a routine. Most plants like to be moderately dry in between thorough waterings. Be sure to check to the plant tag or ask one of our staff for specific plant care recommendations.
Houseplants usually enjoy daytime temperatures between 70-75 degrees and 60-65 degrees at night. Some plants, ferns for example, will go into a rest period in lower temperatures. Decrease watering during dormant periods.
Humidity levels vary from one house to another. Insulation, heating systems, and other factors can lead to desert-like humidity levels in your home. Plants with thick, waxy or hard leaves are not as susceptible to low humidity problems as delicate plants or ferns. If the humidity level is a problem in your home, select plants that do not require high humidity levels (Ponytail Palm or Chinese Evergreen). If you want to grow more delicate plants, use pebble trays under them to help humidify the air. Some other options for humidity is a pebble tray underneath the plant. Regular misting is also a good way to help keep the humidity around plants. This is also a good time to look for insect pests.
Most houseplants need a soil mix that holds moisture, drains well, holds nutrients, and provides enough support to hold the plant upright. A peat-based blend of soil or composted bark, peat moss, and perlite for drainage will serve the needs of many plant types. There are groups of plants like orchids and cacti that have special soil requirements.

There are many satisfactory fertilizers for houseplants. For foliage plants, a fertilizer with a balanced formula of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potash, like 20-20-20 is sufficient. For blooming plants, use a balanced fertilizer or one that has less nitrogen (the first number in the analysis) and more phosphorus and potash. You may prefer to mix a powdered fertilizer in the water, or use a slow release pellet or spike. Fertilize consistently during periods of active growth and bloom, and fertilize less when plants are dormant or resting. Most green foliage plants do not need fertilizer from late November until early March if they have been fed regularly throughout the growing time.
Insects often come into the house on our clothes in the summer, and or through open doors and windows. Low humidity attracts spider mites. Check the undersides of your plant leaves often for infestation. For tougher problems like scale, there are many insecticides specifically formulated for indoor houseplants. Fungus Gnats can also be a problem it the plants are too wet. Allow plants to dry sufficiently between waterings. A good control for Mealy bug is Neem oil with Pyrethrins.