Care Instructions for Household Plants

Overview

Household plants (often called houseplants) are usually tropical plants chosen for their broad, attractive evergreen leaves and ability to thrive in warm temperatures and dimly-lit conditions. Unfortunately, many home gardeners fail to give indoor plants the extra attention they need to thrive. Household plants, due to being in containers, need more water than their outdoor counterparts. They also need plenty of exposure to sunlight, even if they are marketed as "low-light" plants. Although they are many different types of household plants, there are some general care tips that apply to all of them.

Step 1

Provide enough light for your plant. Natural light is good, but the large leaves of some houseplants can become scorched by the direct rays of the sun. Choose a window that gets at least six hours of indirect sunlight for best results. Some plants need more light than that, while others, such as philodendrons, can get by with less light. In general, if the leaves of the plant are turning yellow, it needs more light, according to information published by Purdue University.

Step 2

Water your plant often. Succulents can have almost dry soil before they need another watering, while other plants need continuously moist soil. Again, watch the leaves of your plant. If they begin to droop, check the soil. If it is dry, your plant probably needs more water. If it is still wet, you are most likely over-watering the plant. Most household plants do best when they are watered when the top inch or so of soil dries out. Never let water sit on the leaves, as this can lead to the development of fungal diseases such as root rot. Water from below or right at the surface of the soil to avoid wetting the leaves.

Step 3

Keep the temperature warm but not hot. Temperatures in the upper 60s and low 70s F are perfect for most indoor plants. Keep your plants away from any hot or cold drafts, such as those by leaky windows or air conditioning vents. In addition, keep your plants away from any appliances that put out fumes.

Step 4

Fertilize your houseplants at the beginning of the growing season (spring) with a slow-release, water-soluble, balanced (10-10-10), all-purpose evergreen indoor plant fertilizer.

Step 5

Provide humidity for your plant. The air in most people's homes is too dry for household plants to thrive. Place your plant on a tray filled with pebbles and water, or mist the plant once each morning with warm water from a spray bottle.

Step 6

Monitor for common indoor plant insect pests such as spider mites or whiteflies. Spray the plant with a strong stream of water, such as from a garden hose, to remove the pests, or use an insecticidal soap.

Step 7

Wipe the leaves of the plant with a soft rag occasionally to clean off any dust and debris.

Things You'll Need

  • Watering tool
  • Slow-release, water-soluble fertilizer (10-10-10)
  • Humidity tray (tray filled with pebbles and water) or spray bottle
  • Garden hose
  • Insecticidal soap
  • Soft cloth

References

  • Purdue University: Indoor Plant Care
  • Texas Agricultural Extension Service: House Plants
  • University of Florida: Care of Plants in the Home
Keywords: household plant care, growing indoor plants, care of houseplants

About this Author

April Sanders has been a professional writer since 1998. Previously, she worked as an educator and currently writes academic research content for EBSCO publishing and elementary reading curriculum for Compass Publishing. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in social psychology from the University of Washington and a master's degree in information sciences and technology in education from Mansfield University.