DO’S + DONT’S IN TAKING CARE OF HOUSEPLANTS

By Jenny Mandt, Owner, Garden Coaching Solutions

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I’ve written a lot about outdoor plants over the past couple of years but wanted to write about houseplants for a change.  Since the weather is getting cooler and wetter, some of us fair weather gardeners are putting our gardens to bed and won’t have much to do with them until spring.  Now is a great time to start giving attention to your houseplants.  They bring the beauty of the garden inside, adding texture to your indoor environment and do a great job of filtering the air in your home.  If you have some that flower or provide fragrance, you get even more benefits.  I would like to give you just a few tips of the do’s and don’ts so they’ll be thriving and around for years to come.

DO’S:

Prior to buying any houseplant, it is a good idea to look at the location it will go in your home, so you can gauge how much light it will get.  What if you really don’t have much light that comes in to your home in a place where you want your plants to be located?  You can buy a grow light for your plants.  Plants with just leaves on them need a cool blue or violet light 14-16 hours per day.  Plants that flower will need a warm red and orange light for 12-16 hours per day.  Plants that do well with artificial light are spider plant, aloe vera and polka dot plant.

Watering: remember that your houseplants need more humidity especially in the winter time, when the furnace is on more often and the air is generally drier in your home. To help with this you can put all your plants in one room and buy a small room humidifier and those plants should get enough humidity.  Make sure the leaves aren’t getting wet as this can cause disease on the leaves.  You can also spray a fine mist on plants a couple of times daily. 

Read the label on your plant fertilizer.  Most house plants need a balanced fertilizer. There are several types of fertilizers that you can buy.  The water soluble kind is easy to use.  Just put drops of the fertilizer in the water each time you water your plants, according to the label.

DONT’S: 

Try not to give any indirect to shade loving plants too much light! The result can be brown scorched patches on the leaves, leaves look faded or washed out, they wilt during the day, or just dry up and fall off. 

The Number One cause of plant problems, suffocated roots, pests and rotting roots is overwatering!  Not sure how much to water?  There are 2 ways to tell if the plant has enough moisture 1) the finger test – insert a finger in to the soil up to the first knuckle.  If the soil sticks to the end of your finger and feels damp, your plant has enough moisture.  If not, give it more water. 2) Buy a moisture meter – this helps measure the moisture in the soil.  Also try not to water your plants with cold water.  It shocks them (just like it would shock you if you stepped in to a cold shower) and can slow their growth or damage roots. 

Lastly, don’t add too much fertilizer to your house plants – too much is not necessarily a good thing!  

Hopefully this has given you a few do’s and don’ts for how to deal with your houseplants. They should be happy for years to come with the right amount of light, water, and fertilizer and give you that sense of having some of the great outdoors in, especially during these darker days ahead!

JENNY MANDT  (206) 915-0585 or

jenny@gardencoachingsolutions.com.


Photo by Malte Michels on Unsplash