Growing houseplants is an excellent way to brighten up your home and feel more connected with nature. If you’re just starting out with your indoor jungle, it’s important to know the basics. Here are our top six simple houseplant care tips.
1. Avoiding overwatering
Overwatering is one of the most common mistakes that people make with houseplants. While plants need water to grow, too much can lead to waterlogging, root rot, and other issues. A good rule of thumb is to wait until the top few inches of soil have dried out before watering. However, this will depend on the species of plant. Click here for our full article on avoiding overwatering and what to do if you’ve overwatered.
2. Cleaning leaves
In the wild, leaves would naturally be cleaned by rainfall. In our homes, however, they tend to collect dust. A layer of dust limits how much light the plant can use to photosynthesize, which can affect the health of the plant. One of the best care tips is to wipe down leaves with a damp cloth. This helps to remove the dust and give it a boost of humidity. If you want to tie in cleaning the leaves with watering the plant, you could place it in the shower to rinse off the dust and thoroughly soak the soil. Just remember to let the excess water drain afterward.
3. Pot size
Choosing the right pot size is very important for the health of your plant. A common mistake is using a pot that’s too big for the root system. People will often do this thinking it will give the plant plenty of room to grow, but it is actually detrimental to the root system. Having too much excess soil around the roots means they won’t be able to take up all the water in the soil. This leads to the root system being surrounded by soggy soil which can rot away your roots and kill your plant.
If you’re repotting a plant, go up by one or two pot sizes. The root system should have around two inches of extra space around it. More space than this can be detrimental. Click here for our full guide to choosing the right houseplant pot.
4. Soil mix and amendments
Houseplant potting mix is more than just soil. You can buy a specific houseplant mix, but you may want to add some amendments in to make it fit your specific requirements. For example, if you’re using it for cacti and other succulents you can add sand, perlite, or horticultural grit to improve the drainage. If you want to make it more aerated, you can add orchid bark. This makes the mix chunkier and less compact, which is good for the root system.
5. Pick plants based on available light
Knowing the type of light in your home is important. Most common houseplants require bright, indirect light. This means bright light without a direct hit from the sun. Blinds or other window covers are great for creating indirect light. North-facing windows tend to have even lighting throughout the day without much direct light, suiting a lot of tropical plants.
Other plants, however, will want direct sun. These can be placed in clear, south-facing windows. Make a mental note of what type of light the rooms in your home get so you can pick plants based on how much light they need or can tolerate.
6. Give them a trim
Pruning your houseplants can boost their growth and make them look better. Generally, you prune houseplants to remove any dead or damaged leaves. Remember that it’s normal for leaves to die off; they’re making room for new growth. Use a clean tool (like scissors or secateurs) to remove unsightly parts of your plant.
After you’ve pruned a plant, the cuttings can often be used for propagation to make even more plants. For example, if you trim the ends of your pothos it will encourage bushy growth and leave you with pothos cuttings. Rooting the cuttings in water or soil allows you to create new plants, or pop them back in with the original plant to make it look more full.
Simple care tips can make all the difference in the health of your houseplants. Click here to read more about choosing and caring for houseplants.