Just like the interior design of your house, houseplants need regular upkeep and care. Some houseplants, such as cacti, require minimal maintenance, while others, such as orchids, are a bit more demanding. Most houseplants are a hybrid of plants that grow wild. The most important criteria for the health of a seedling houseplant are healthy soil, proper lighting, water and nutrients.
The best way to keep your seedling houseplants thriving and flourishing in their new environment is to try to ensure the plant is comfortable and match its new environment to its natural one. Understanding the native habitat of a plant will help in the direction you will take for its care in the future. It will tell you how often you should water it, what sort of potting soil to use, how much light the plant needs and whether it needs more or less humidity.
Potting soil should be tailored to match the plant that you are growing, but generally seedlings need a light, moisture-retentive potting soil to start with. Indoor potting soil is typically composed of vermiculite, perlite and peat moss. However, this soil-less variety of potting soil contains no nutrients, so it is essential to fertilize regularly.
You can combine the soil-less mix with an organic compound, such as compost, peat or rich garden soil. This will introduce vital nutrients to the seedling houseplant. The most important thing to consider is that the mix is light enough to provide adequate drainage and healthy root growth. To ensure good drainage, your potting soil should contain perlite, vermiculite or sand. Without good draining, and after months of overhead water, the root ball can become compacted and unhealthy.
All plants are very different in their requirements for light. Some are happy with diffused light or in a shady corner, while others need bright, direct sunlight. Educating yourself as to what light your plant will need will help your plant remain healthy.
Most flowering plants need to be within three feet of a sunny, south-facing window. Plants that need bright, indirect light should be three to five feet from a window that is south-facing or within three feet of an east or west-facing window. Plants that prefer diffused light should be located about six to eight feet from a south-facing window or one foot from a north-facing window.
Since the winter months are much darker than the summer, it is usually a good idea to move all plants closer to the windows in order to get more sunlight. Since plants generally need at least 12 hours of light per day, you may need to supplement their natural light with plant lights placed directly overhead.
Water and Nutrients
Over-watering seedlings is the biggest cause of plant death. It's good to not set yourself on any particular watering schedule, as plants will require more watering when it is sunny and less when it is cool. Check your soil regularly and only water if it feels dry at a depth of 1/2 inch.
The rule of thumb for watering is to drench the root ball until water comes out of the holes at the bottom of the pot. Seedlings need more water, so be sure to check them regularly.
Houseplant seedlings do not require a lot of fertilizers, and it is important to not overdo it and burn their fragile roots with harsh chemicals. The best way to fertilize seedlings is to use organic products, such as mulch, liquid seaweed or a biostimulant that will give trace nutrients, rather than a full dose. Providing a mulch of compost or worm castings on top of the seedling's soil can provide added nutrients to the soil.
Some plants, such as citrus plants, are very sensitive to pH levels. This can be corrected with the right fertilizer. To avoid fertilizer salt buildup, it is important to periodically drench the soil with water, then drench again, so that any salts will be flushed out.