Many household plants provide lovely flowers, extra oxygen, beautiful leaves and reward you with new buds and leaves annually when properly cared for. With any indoor plant, following care instructions tailored to that specific plant ensures the best opportunity for its survival. However, there are some basic steps you can take to care for most household plants.
As a general rule, a north-facing window provides the least amount of light, a south-facing window provides the most sunlight, and an east- or west-facing window provides moderate sunlight. For some plants, light from the southern window may prove too intense during the summer.
Place your houseplant about a foot back from the window pane, making sure that the leaves and any flowers don't touch the glass. Don't assume that you can keep your plant in the same spot all year, either; with seasonal changes come different lighting conditions.
In the tropics, where most of them originate, household plants are accustomed to warm rainwater. Therefore, always use tepid, room-temperature water. How often you water depends on the season and the size and material of the pot you use, among other things.
Test dryness of the soil by sticking your finger or the end of a pencil into the top inch of soil. If it comes out clean, then water the plant. If pieces of soil cling to your finger or the pencil, then hold off on watering.
Soak clay pots in water before use to prevent them from draining your indoor plants of humidity. Plastic pots will often have convenient drainage holes at the bottom to run off excessive water. Using terracotta pots requires more frequent watering, because they absorb moisture.
The soil in your yard is usually too compact for household plants. Either use sandier potting mix for cacti and succulents or basic potting mix for other plants, both of which are lighter and drain better than dirt. You can get them from a garden center or nursery.
Flowering household plants often need more fertilizer than foliage houseplants. Feed your plant throughout the year, but give special attention to it during the warmer months.
Liquid fertilizers are easy to apply. Just add a few drops into the watering can. Use fewer drops per gallon of water to prevent over-fertilization.
Fish emulsion and liquid seaweed also make good fertilizers. You'll want to move the plant outside to avoid the smell of fish infesting your house. Just a couple of teaspoons per gallon of water should do the trick.