How to Care & Tend to House Plants

Overview

Houseplants are a tasteful addition to any decor. Large-foliage plants can add interest to an empty corner and small flowering plants add an attractive accent on a table or in a windowsill. Wherever you place your plants, you'll need to tend to them daily to ensure they stay looking as good as they did at the greenhouse. Choose varieties suited to your needs and lighting conditions, then provide them with food and water to grow plants you'll be proud of.

Step 1

Choose proper containers for your houseplants. Pots should be 2 to 3 inches larger in diameter than your plant. The pot also needs to have several holes for drainage, otherwise water will accumulate in the bottom of the pot and eventually damage your plant.

Step 2

Provide adequate lighting. While many houseplants are adapted to dim conditions, no plant can survive without some form of light. Some plants require direct sunlight and will need to be placed in a windowsill or within a few feet of a window. Others can survive with filtered light and be 8 to 10 feet away from windows. Most houseplants come with basic instructions that list specific lighting requirements.

Step 3

Water correctly. Use a watering can if you choose to wet the soil from above and avoid getting water on the foliage. You can also allow water to be absorbed from below by placing the pot in a pan filled with water. Remove the pot when the top of the soil is moist and allow the excess water to drain from the bottom.

Step 4

Avoid over-watering. If you are in doubt about whether or not you should water, check the soil first. Place your finger an inch or so into the soil. If it feels moist, don't water your plant. Watch for signs of over-watering--yellowing or wilting leaves are a tip-off.

Step 5

Maintain stable temperatures, avoiding temperature extremes. Most houseplants are well suited to "room temperature"--approximately 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Do not put plants near cool, drafty windows in the winter or where hot air vents will blow directly on them.

Step 6

Simulate humidity with the use of a room humidifier or by lightly misting plant leaves. Many homes or offices have dry air, especially during the winter months.

Step 7

Feed your plants with a complete houseplant fertilizer. Follow manufacturer's instructions for proper application and use fertilizers once a month. Avoid applying fertilizer to wilted plants or applying more than directed.

Things You'll Need

  • Potted plants
  • Water
  • Watering can or saucer
  • Fertilizer designed for houseplants

References

  • University of Missouri Extension: Caring for Houseplants
  • University of Minnesota Extension: Caring for Houseplants in Northern Climates

Who Can Help

  • Better Homes and Gardens: Choosing Houseplants
Keywords: potted plant tips, care for plants, houseplant tips

About this Author

Amy McClain has worked as both a feature writer and a copy editor for a prestigious daily newspaper. She also enjoys writing as a hobby and takes creative writing courses in her free time. She has worked in sales and marketing for a wireless company for the past seven years.

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