Keeping a house plant healthy and happy might seem like rocket science to the uninitiated, but once you know the basics, it’s actually quite simple. When you consider the lush vitality and beauty that live plants add to your home, providing them with the few things they need to thrive is certainly worth the time and effort.
So what does an indoor house plant need? All varieties require well-draining, nutrient-rich soil, sufficient light and water, adequate humidity, fertilizer and occasional grooming. Lets take a look at each of those elements.
Good soil is one of the most important factors in growing healthy houseplants. You can buy ready-made, bagged “professional” potting soil, or make your own. Straight soil from your yard is a no-no, but you can mix it with a little peat moss or compost and some perlite for good drainage. Add some sand if your soil is heavy clay.
Choose the proper size pot for your plant, one with adequate room for the soil and the plant’s roots, and about two inches between the container sides and the root ball. All plants will eventually become pot-bound and need to be “potted up.” When you repot, hold off fertilizing for a few weeks, but give it some vitamin B1 to guard against transplant shock.
Proper lighting is also important to indoor house plant success. Light provides the energy source for the plant, and too little results in poor growth or even, death. On the other hand, too much light (and especially direct sunlight) is unhealthy, can burn the leaves or cause them to drop.
Your best bet is to read the little tag that comes with your plant, as it will tell you how much light the plant likes. If your home doesn’t have a place that will provide the optimum natural light, artificial lighting with fluorescent lamps or special incandescent bulbs are easy to use, and add evening ambience to your room.
Watering an indoor house plant
Plants don’t like saturated soils, so be careful not to overwater. Saturated soils leave no room for oxygen, and will cause the roots to rot, which eventually kills the plant.
Lack of sufficient water is also capable of killing your house plant, however, so the best way to determine when it needs to be watered is with the finger test. Simply stick a finger or two into the soil about an inch, and if it feels moist, you can wait another day or two.
Temperature and humidity
Most house plants like average temperatures between 62Ã?Â° and 74Ã?Â°. A tip for keeping your plants happy is that the higher the temperature in your home, the brighter the light should be. Adjustments for differences in winter and summer will help your plant thrive.
An indoor house plant appreciates a slightly humid environment, which you can provide by placing the pot on a pebble-filled tray with a little water (don’t let the pot sit in water, though), or use a humidifier to add moisture to the air. Misting the plant occasionally is helpful, and you can wipe the leaves at the same time, which helps alleviate dust build-up.
House plants require nutrients to supplement their diet of plain water. Most do fine with a balanced fertilizer that has the same or similar amounts of nitrogen, phosphate and potash, such as 16-16-16. Water-soluble fertilizer is preferred because it reduces the potential for fertilizer burn. It’s a good idea to feed plants one-quarter of the recommended amount every time you water rather than feeding them a lot once a month.
Manicuring your plants
An occasional trimming is the key to keeping your plant looking its best. Just think what your fingernails would look like without regular clipping!
Remove withered leaves with sharp scissors. Use pruning shears to cut off unwanted branches. Pinching off the tips of growing shoots with your fingers will promote a compact growth habit.
With just a little care and attention, an indoor house plant will provide years of enjoyment. I hope these simple plant care tips will help you successfully care for your plants!