How to Care for Indoor House Plants

Overview

Houseplants usually require more care than people think they do, especially if you choose a difficult-to-cultivate plant like an orchid or a gardenia. But even supposedly easygoing houseplants like peace lilies or jade plants require consistent, reliable care. In fact, improperly watering a plant is one of the most likely reasons that houseplants die or fail to thrive. When caring for your houseplant, it's best not to take the basics for granted.

Step 1

Place your houseplant next to the appropriate window in your house according to its light needs. Different plants have different light requirements which are generally classified in three categories: high, medium and low. Place houseplants with high light requirements near windows that face south. Place houseplants with medium light requirements near windows that face east or west. Place houseplants with low light requirements near windows that face north.

Step 2

Water your houseplant whenever the top third of the container is dry. Use your finger or a wooden dowel to check the houseplant's soil frequently. When the top third of the soil is dry, water the plant until water runs out of the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot. Do not allow your plant to sit directly in water in its drainage tray; empty it after the plant drains for half an hour.

Step 3

Mist tropical plants daily with water from a small spray bottle to provide them with the humidity they need.

Step 4

Keep the temperature in your plant's room between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit in the evening. Do not place your plant near your air-conditioning or heat vent.

Step 5

Fertilize your plant with a liquid houseplant fertilizer using the dosage recommended by the manufacturer. Apply enough water with or after the fertilizer so that water runs out of the bottom of the pot. The frequency of fertilization will depend on the type of houseplant you have. Most houseplants need to be fertilized once every two weeks during the growing season (March to September) and not at all during the fall and winter months.

Step 6

Rinse your plant's soil once every four to six months to prevent salt buildup in the soil. Fill your watering can with enough water to equal twice the volume of the pot. Then water the pot with the entire amount so that water runs freely from the drainage holes in the pot and rinses the soil. If a layer of salt crust has already formed on the surface of the soil, remove the top 1/4 inch of the soil before rinsing it.

Things You'll Need

  • Water
  • Fertilizer
  • Watering can
  • Spray bottle

References

  • Texas Master Gardener: Houseplants
  • University of Illinois: Houseplants
Keywords: indoor plants, plant care, houseplants

About this Author

Emma Gin is a freelance writer who specializes in green, healthy and smart living. She is currently working on developing a weight-loss website that focuses on community and re-education. Gin is also working on a collection of short stories, because she knows what they say about idle hands.