Care of Common House Plants

Overview

An indoor garden can brighten a room with colorful blossoms or simply bring a touch of nature into your home's interior through the rustling of lush foliage. Hundreds of different kinds of plants are raised as houseplants. Though specific culture needs vary by species, several general care guidelines apply to most common houseplant species and can ensure a healthy container garden.

Step 1

Place the houseplant near a window to give it the appropriate level of light for the specific houseplant species. West-facing windows are ideal for plants that need direct sunlight, according to the University of Illinois. Place plants that need indirect light in east-facing windows. If you don't have any available windows, Oklahoma State University recommends putting a 100-watt lamp 36 inches above the houseplant.

Step 2

Keep the houseplant warm. Though temperature requirements vary by species, Purdue University says most houseplants thrive at a temperature between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 3

Water the houseplant on an as-needed basis, suggests the University of Missouri. Apply moisture only when the top inch of soil feels dry or when plants begin showing signs of drought stress. Use enough water that some drips out of the pot's drainage holes.

Step 4

Maintain proper humidity around your houseplants, critically important in homes that run heaters or air conditioners, since such appliances often suck the water out of air. For most indoor plants, the University of Illinois recommends maintaining a humidity level of 40 to 60 percent. Humidifiers are the best option, though you can also place dishes of water next to your houseplant to raise the immediate humidity via evaporation.

Step 5

Fertilize the houseplants once a month during their active growing season when they're producing flowers or new foliage, says the University of Missouri. Use any general fertilizer labeled for use on houseplants and apply it according to its labeled rate. The university advises against fertilizing during the winter when growth is slowest, since this can lead to over-fertilization and the poisoning of your houseplant.

Things You'll Need

  • Lamp
  • Water
  • Humidifier
  • Fertilizer

References

  • "The Complete Houseplant Survival Manual"; Barbara Pleasant; 2005
  • Oklahoma State University: Houseplant Care
  • University of Illinois: House Plant Care
  • Purdue University: Indoor Plant Care
  • University of Missouri: Caring for Houseplants

Who Can Help

  • University of Illinois: Houseplant Care Manual
Keywords: common houseplant care, growing houseplants, raising houseplants

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.