Houseplant Care Basics

Last week we talked about ways you can reconnect with nature in 2019.  One of the ways you can reconnect is to bring the outdoors inside.  Over the next few weeks we’re going to look at unique projects and plants to keep your indoor spaces a green, lush oasis.

This week let’s start off by reviewing the basics of caring for plants indoors.  All indoor environments are different; likewise, all plants are different.  The key is to find plants that work for you and your space.  Not to be a downer, but you will kill a houseplant.  All of us have.  That’s part of learning to grow them.  However, there’s a few simple techniques that can mitigate the effects of even the brownest of thumbs.


Light is one of the most important considerations to make when growing indoors.  All plants require light for photosynthesis.  When choosing houseplants, you need to consider their light requirements.  Sometimes, you can use artificial light to help meet these needs.  Next week we’re going to learn about the “ZZ” plant.  This sharp dressed plant can survive even in the darkest corners of your space.

After light comes water when caring for houseplants.  Every plant requires a different amount of water, but the most common houseplant care issue I see is overwatering.  I like to say people kill their houseplants with love!  What if it were impossible to overwater your plants?  In a couple weeks, we’re going to take a look at growing aquatic plants indoors.  Think of a terrarium, but filled with water.

Also, this time of the year, humidity becomes an issue.  The dry air of winter combined with the drying effects of heating systems can leave your plants as parched as your lips.  One way to combat low humidity is with a daily blast with a spray bottle.  Another option for larger plants is a saucer of stones filled with water below the pot.  As the water evaporates, it creates a little bubble of higher humidity around the plant.  I’m currently using this method with Andy, my avocado tree. … You’ll meet him later this year.

A commonly unforeseen aspect of houseplants is cleaning them.  Their foliage can become dust magnets.  Especially if the foliage is waxy like the ZZ plant.  This is also a great use for spray bottles.  Heck, I even wash my artificial plants this way sometimes.


Fertilizing is another, often overlooked task that is essential for healthy houseplants.  Just like plants in your landscape, houseplants need nutrients.  You can find fertilizers specially formulated for houseplants.  There are even fertilizers for specific houseplants like orchids and African violets.

The last thing to consider is the fact that houseplants grow!  You will need to repot houseplants as they mature.  Notice that you’re needing to water the monster more than usual?  Chances are, it’s telling you it needs a bigger home.

With the thousands of varieties of indoor plants out there, these are pretty general care tips.  However, sometimes it is good to take a look at the bigger picture.  Over the next few weeks we’re going to dive in and look at more specific examples of how you can transform your indoor space.


Images via Pixabay. All images are licensed under a CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0) Public Domain Dedication.