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How to Grow a House Plant

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How to Grow a House Plant

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Overview

Houseplants are typically grown for their foliage. Because most houseplants originated in tropical regions, blooming may be sporadic, and in some species does not occur at all, under household conditions. Most thrive in the average home, with a little adjustment to the temperature and humidity levels. With proper lighting and adequate water, nearly any home is suitable for a range of houseplants from tiny African violets to trailing ivies and peace lilies.

Step 1

Plant houseplants in a growing medium designed for their needs. Check your local garden supply store for soil mixtures for specific plants. If you choose to use potting soil, mix it with equal parts of peat moss and perlite to create a lightweight mixture. All-purpose potting soil is dense and compacts easily. Adding peat moss and perlite improves drainage and aeration.

Step 2

Place houseplants in the appropriate lighting. Read the plant identification tag to determine the amount of light your plant requires. Low-light plants prefer northern windows or the interior of a brightly lit room. Eastern windows provide indirect light for much of the day. Western or southern windows provide bright light.

Step 3

Water plants regularly. Although watering needs varies among plants, most prefer deep watering once or twice a week. Water until water runs free of the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot. Empty the plant saucer after watering, and do not allow plants to sit in water for more than 20 minutes. Adjust water to the needs of your specific plants.

Step 4

Mist plants regularly, or add pebble trays, in homes where humidity drops below 40 percent. Most houseplants require humidity levels between 40 and 60 percent. Place plant pots on pebble trays filled with pebbles and water. Keep the base of the pot above the water level.

Step 5

Place plants in a draft-free area, away from sources of direct heat or drafty windows and doors. Plants chill quickly when exposed to cold drafts, or placed too close to windows on cold winter nights. Hot air from furnaces dry the soil and damage foliage. Set the thermostat no lower than 55 degrees at night, and keep temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit during the daytime.

Step 6

Fertilize once a month with water-soluble fertilizer designed for your specific plants. Cease fertilizing in the fall when growth slows, and resume fertilizing in the spring when a new flush of growth appears.

Step 7

Repot plants in fresh soil when they become root bound, or show signs of decreased growth. Some plants, like spider plants, do not produce offsets unless root bound. These plants should not be repotted unless the plant begins to show signs of stress. Check the requirements of your specific plant to determine when to repot the plant.

Step 8

Wash or dust foliage once a month to keep plants healthy. Spray with a gentle spray from the faucet to remove dust and residue on leaves. Apply leaf shine to the tops of waxy or shiny leaves, if desired. Hairy or fuzzy leaves, such as those on African violets, should not be polished.

Tips and Warnings

  • Apply leaf shine to the tops of leaves only. Do not apply to the undersides of leaves, as this block the pores that allow plants to breathe.

Things You'll Need

  • Plant pots
  • Potting medium
  • Water-soluble fertilizer
  • Mister
  • Pebble trays
  • Leaf shine

References

  • Univeristy of Illinois Extension: Houseplant Needs
  • Univeristy of Illinois Extension: House Plant Care

Who Can Help

  • North Dakota State University: Houseplants
Keywords: houseplant care, grow a houseplant, care for houseplants

About this Author

Nannette Richford is an avid gardener, teacher and nature enthusiast with 4 years experience in online writing and a lifetime of personal journals. She is published on various sites, including Associated Content. Richford holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary education from the University of Maine Orono and certifications in 7-12 English, K-8 General Elementary and Birth to age 5.