The Care and Feeding of Your Houseplants blog

The Care and Feeding of Your Houseplants

Exposure, Water, Humidity, Soil, and Feeding.

Spider Plant

Spider Plant

These five factors all come into play when fostering a houseplant and each plant has its own set of rules. By choosing an easier plant to begin with, your chance of success increases. More often than not, large commercial growers will include an informative tag on their houseplants to assist you in determining its basic care once you get it home from the store.

Golden Pothos Vine

Golden Pothos Vine

Some plants love tons of light. Others can thrive in the darkest corner of your home. Your plant will respond to its placement in your home in a week or so, letting you know if it’s happy or not. Try putting your plants in different locations and check back in a week to see if they need to be moved, or if they are just find where they are.

Keep this in mind as you care for your houseplant: more houseplants die from overwatering than from any other reason. When in doubt, wait one more day before watering and do a quick finger check. If the soil is damp when you press your finger about an inch into it, do not water the plant. Go back in a couple of days and repeat the finger check. It’s preferable to dry out your houseplants slightly between waterings.  And guess what? The plant will actually let you know when it’s thirsty. Droopy foliage? Water immediately and completely! When you do water your plant, make sure to keep watering until it drains out of the bottom of the pot.

All houseplants enjoy a more humid environment. Kitchens and bathrooms tend to be the most naturally humid rooms in the house because of running water and escaping steam but there are ways to “fake” humidity in other areas of your home. Plants can be grouped together in a larger planter with moist sphagnum moss to increase humidity. You can also arrange individual pots in a shallow, metal tray, making sure that the bases of the pots are touching water at all times.  Purchase a spray bottle and douse the leaves of your plants often with water. This increases the humidity and also keeps the foliage clean and healthy.

Lucky Bamboo

Lucky Bamboo

What your plant lives in is also critical to its success. If you have the time and the inclination you can develop your own mixture of potting soil. Your local garden center will have just the right blend for your type of houseplant, don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Feeding your houseplant is necessary as the roots are not able to venture through the soil on their own to seek nutrients needed for healthy growth. Plants will need to be fed every two weeks with some type of fertilizer and most houseplant aficionados prefer liquid formulations for their ease of use. One thing to take into consideration is that although houseplants reside indoors, they still respond to the seasons. Because of this, you will want to withhold feeding during the late fall and winter months and resume again once the thaw of spring presents itself.

If you are new to keeping houseplants, there are several to begin with and grow your confidence. All of the below are extremely difficult to kill. Start out with one of these and you will be on your way to a healthier home environment:

  • Golden Pothos Vine
  • Spider Plant
  • Snake plant (also known as Mother In-Law’s Tongue)
  • Dracaena Species
  • Succulents and Cacti
  • Bromeliads
  • Lucky Bamboo

If you have pets, you need to be aware of the plants that may be toxic to them. To find the most accurate information based on the type of pet you have, please go to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals website.

26th November 2013

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