How to Keep House Plants Alive


Whether you grow houseplants for their lush foliage or colorful blossoms, the plants can add a vibrant natural element to any indoor space. The specific growing requirements of the houseplants, such as sunlight intensity and watering needs, varies by species. Whatever type of houseplant you're raising, several general management guidelines and tips can help keep it alive for years of enjoyment.

Step 1

Use a well-draining potting medium when planting your houseplants, according to North Dakota State University. Fill the plant pot with either a commercially prepared potting soil mix or create your own by combining equal parts of garden loam, peat moss and vermiculite.

Step 2

Water the houseplant regularly. Watering too much or too little is one of the most common reasons for houseplant deaths, according to Texas A&M University. Generally, water should be applied whenever the soil feels dry at the 2-inch depth level. When watering, the university recommends applying enough water that moisture drips out of the pot's bottom drainage holes. This helps flush out excess soil salts.

Step 3

Fertilize the houseplants. For the best results, use a 5-10-5 to 10-20-10 fertilizer product labeled for use on houseplants, according to the University of Illinois. Apply the fertilizer according to its labeled guidelines as potency varies by product. Houseplant feeding needs vary by species but most types only need fertilization every couple of months between March and September, according to the university.

Step 4

Provide the proper sunlight and temperature levels for sustained growth. Sunlight requirements vary by species, with some needing shade and others thriving in full sunlight. Appropriately moving the houseplant closer or further from a window can help provide it with the right level of light. Texas A&M University recommends keeping temperatures between 70 degrees Fahrenheit and 80 degrees Fahrenheit during the day, and 60 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit in the evening.

Step 5

Manage pests if they should occur on your houseplants. Common houseplant pests include thrips and aphids. Manage small infestations buy mixing a couple teaspoons of liquid soap with a gallon of water and spraying it on the houseplant, according to North Dakota State University. Control serious infestations with a chemical-based insecticide spray labeled for houseplant use.

Things You'll Need

  • Potting soil
  • Water
  • Houseplant fertilizer
  • Liquid dish soap
  • Spray bottle
  • Houseplant insecticide


  • "The Complete Houseplant Survival Manual"; Barbara Pleasant; 2005
  • University of Illinois: Houseplants
  • North Dakota State University: Houseplants - Proper Care & Management of Pest Problems
  • Texas A&M University: Houseplants
Keywords: houseplant care, keep houseplants alive, houseplant management

About this Author

Josh Duvauchelle is an editor and journalist with more than 10 years' experience. His work has appeared in various magazines, including "Honolulu Magazine," which has more paid subscribers than any other magazine in Hawaii. He graduated with honors from Trinity Western University, holding a Bachelor of Arts in professional communications, and earned a certificate in applied leadership and public affairs from the Laurentian Leadership Centre.