Tips for Growing Healthy Houseplants
I'm a huge fan of houseplants. If you follow me on Instagram or Pinterest, you probably already know this. I've posted about them in the past (here and here), but recently I've had a lot of really great questions from readers asking how to maintain and grow healthy plants. Although I'm no expert, here are some tips I find helpful:
01 : L I G H T I N G
When thinking of light and the amount of sun your plant needs, consider the strength of light. Is it filtered through sheer drapery, direct sunlight, or reflected off of something? You should also determine the duration of sunlight you plant needs. Compare different sides of your home, like east versus south. This should help you narrow down which plants will thrive in specific rooms.
Also, don't forget to turn or rotate your plant every so often, so it grows evenly. I rotate my fig tree every other month.
02: C L E A N I N G
Most people forget to clean their plants. Leaves often become dirty and dusty, blocking sunlight and stunting their growth. Wipe the leaves with a damp sponge or towel. For plants with smaller or spiky leaves, sometimes it just takes a feather duster or a gentle shake. Clean plants not only make your house look tidy, you'll also start to see a noticeable change in growth.
03: W A T E R I N G
Obviously all plants need water to survive, even those native to the desert. Over and under watering is how the majority of house plants die. Sometimes I find it easiest to put them in the sink or shower and spray them down really well, while other times all it takes is a spray bottle. Be observant and monitor how your plant changes with more or less water. If it's not doing well, make gradual adjustments. Sometimes I only water this little cactus once every other month!
04: T E M P E R A T U R E
Most homes are warm enough to sustain any sort of houseplant; contrary to what you might believe, most houseplants dislike hot and dry environments. Don't confuse full sun with a high temperature. Plants usually don't do as well in the winter months because of the humidity. Position your plant in a consistent climate- avoiding vents and drafts.
05: F E R T I L I Z I N G
I like fertilizing my plants every 3 months or so. I'm pretty religious about fertilizing my larger plants (snake plant, fig tree, etc). I'm also all about saving time, so I use Miracle Grow Plant Food Spikes because they're super easy. Just follow the instructions on the box and you're good to go! Just remember, never fertilize a plant that is too dry. Water your plants, then fertilize a couple days later.
06: R E P O T T I N G
Growing up on a farm, I was raised on the Farmer's Almanac. Some people think it's crazy, but I still like to refer to it when I'm repotting. Regardless if you do it by the book, don't repot your plants in the winter. This is usually a dormant stage; it's best to encourage growth during the plant's natural growth cycle in the spring.
When increasing the pot size, too large can definitely be a bad thing- I learned this the hard way. Be sure to buy a planter that is 2" - 3" larger in diameter than your existing pot.
Remember to think about drainage when repotting. If you find an amazing planter you absolutely love, but it doesn't have a drainage hole... no worries, don't panic! In my experience, it really doesn't matter that much. If you buy the correct type of potting soil, and add some gravel to the bottom of the planter prior to potting, it should drain just fine.
If all else fails and you truly don't have a green thumb, go faux! Would you believe me if I told you the above leaf is faux? Well, it is... you've been tricked! The only thing you have to worry about is dusting it. This is the only faux plant in my house, but they do make them rather convincing these days... so it's another good option.
Related Article: Unique Ways to Pot Your Plants