Small Space Gardening
How to Care for Houseplants
A few easy tips can help you keep your housplants healthy
Houseplants provide so many benefits, livening up your home and also improving indoor air quality. Whether you're looking to grow tropical plants, such as palms, ferns or African violets, or more low-maintenance succulents, learn the specific needs of houseplants and you can have healthy plants in your home year-round.
Bring a Little of the Outdoors Indoors
A healthy houseplant needs the right combination of light, soil and moisture to mimic the conditions of the outdoors as much as possible. Learn about the native environments of your houseplants and plant accordingly. For instance, cactus plants like soil that drains quickly, like Miracle-Gro® Cactus, Palm & Citrus Potting Mix. African violets like soil that is slightly acidic, such as Miracle-Gro® African Violet Potting Mix. Miracle-Gro® Indoor Potting Mix creates an excellent all-around root environment for houseplants such as philodendrons, spider plants, and dieffenbachia. Because indoor conditions tend to be drier, it's important to take a few steps to maintain moisture around your plant.
Changing Water Needs
Even though they're in a relatively stable environment indoors, your houseplants' water needs will still vary with the seasons. Most, though not all, houseplants tend to grow more rapidly in spring and summer, and slow their growth in fall and winter. Know your houseplants' growing periods and water less during their dormant periods.
Know When to Water
Before watering, do a moisture check by dipping your finger at least one inch deep into the soil. If the soil feels dry, water the plants. Alternatively, you can place a wooden stick such as a plain chopstick one to two inches into the soil of your houseplant. Leave the stick for 10 minutes, then remove and examine for any changes in color or watermarks. If the stick is unchanged, it's time to water.
Watering Your Houseplants
Water your plant with a longneck watering can that reaches all sides of the container. Be sure your water is room temperature. Pour on enough water so that some seeps out of the pot's drainage holes into the saucer or tray underneath. An hour later, pour out any water in the saucer so the plant is not oversaturated. For best results, water your plants in the morning so moistened foliage has a chance to dry out during the day. To help maintain soil moisture, place a little moss, mulch or even some pebbles around the base of your plants.
Even though your houseplants' roots are in soil, they need air, so be wary of overwatering, as this can block airflow and allow root rot to develop, resulting in plant failure. Overwatering is the main reason houseplants die, so be on the lookout for dropping or yellowed leaves, wilting or drooping, which tend to be signs of stress from overwatering. If you see those signs, try drying out your plant or repotting it in fresh soil.
Houseplants get hungry for nutrients, so be sure to fertilize them regularly to keep them growing strong and lush. Make things easy by choosing an excellent all-around indoor plant food like Miracle-Gro® Indoor Plant Food. Or, feed with a plant food specifically designed for your type of indoor plant's nutritional needs, such as Miracle-Gro® Succulent Plant Food for cacti, aloe, and succulents, or Miracle-Gro® Blooming Houseplant Food for African violets. Whichever fertilizer you choose, be sure to follow label directions.