Indoor plants require specialized care in order to thrive, since every species varies in specific needs. However, with basic knowledge of the major components of house plant care, you can provide your indoor garden the best chance at success and longevity.
Choose a potting media best suited to the plant you choose. Specific blends are available commercially for African violets, orchids and cacti, for example. If you choose a store-bought medium, add one part perlite or sand to enhance drainage qualities of the mix. Sterilization is essential to remove any bacteria that can lurk in commercial soils. Spread the soil on heatproof baking sheets and place in a 180-degree oven for 20 to 30 minutes, then cool completely. To mix your own soil, combine one part sand or perlite, one part silt or clay loam, and one part peat moss.
Natural light is best, and depending on the type of plant, indirect but constant light from a window will keep indoor plants consistently healthy. Direct sun that is too harsh or hot could damage the foliage or cause leaf tips to turn yellow. Be aware of your house plant's visual cues about its daily light and move the plant if you see signs of stress.
Over- or under-watering is the most common reason indoor plants fail. Small pots should be watered when the top inch of soil feels dry to your finger. Larger pots of 6 inches should be watered when you feel dry soil at the 2-inch mark. Water from the top over the soil and stop to see if it flows out the drainage holes. Discard any water that builds up in the tray. Leaving water to be taken up by the plant can cause damage because of the salt content in drained water.
Take care to protect plants from the forced air from heating units or air conditioners. Flowing air can dry out foliage and prevent healthy blooms. About 60 to 75 degrees Farhenheit is the optimum temperature for most indoor plants, although some species are more heat tolerant.
Most indoor plants are tropical in nature, and they need more humidity than is found in the typical home environment. Rest the plant on a tray covered with pea gravel or place plants in a terrarium to encourage increased humidity.