Houseplants 101: 7 Tips for Healthy, Happy Plants

We’ve all been there: a gorgeous plant catches your eye at the store. You bring it home and do your best to baby it, only for your lush new plant to die within a matter of weeks. Or days.

Caring for houseplants can be more complicated than it seems. But with a little research and some TLC, you can transform your home from a greenery graveyard into a lush indoor garden. Follow these 7 tips for healthier houseplants and watch your home blossom.

1. Know Your Lighting

A healthy houseplant starts with knowing your home — specifically, your windows. Before heading to the garden center, take stock of which directions your windows face. South-facing windows receive the most sun, making them best for plants that need direct sunlight. If you don’t have a south-facing light source, no worries. The right houseplant can still flourish in an east- or west-facing window, which leads to our next point…

2. Do Your Research

Before impulse buying at the nursery, research which plants will thrive in your home. Make a list of varieties that match your lighting, climate and the level of care you’re prepared to give. Be honest with yourself — if you don’t have time to pamper your plants, look for low-maintenance varieties that need infrequent care.

3. Water Only as Needed

Some plants need more water than others, and many have different watering needs during different seasons. So instead of following a rigid routine, only water your houseplants when they need it.

How do you know when a plant is thirsty? Before watering, test the dampness of the soil with your finger. If the top 1/2 inch to 1 inch of soil is dry, it’s probably time to water your plant. As a rule of thumb, it’s better to underwater than overwater, since too much moisture can cause fatal root rot.

4. Fertilize in Spring or Summer

As the weather warms up, you can boost your indoor garden’s natural growth spurt with a helping of plant food. Each houseplant’s needs are different, so be sure to research which type of food is the best fit for your plant. You can find fertilizer in the form of granules or a liquid concentrate to add to your watering can. Just be careful not to over-fertilize your plant and follow the manufacturer’s directions.

5. Repot Regularly

Taking great care of your houseplants, but still seeing drooping or yellow leaves? You might have a case of overcrowded roots. When a houseplant thrives, its root system can quickly outgrow its planter. To check for overcrowding, look for roots growing out of the pot’s drainage hole. You can also gently lift your plant out of the container. If the roots have made a strong web in the shape of the pot, it’s time for a bigger planter.

And remember, even houseplants in the right size pot need to be replanted in fresh soil once a year to ensure they’re getting plenty of nutrients.

6. Prune and Deadhead

Cutting back a plant may seem counterintuitive, but regular pruning can help clean up unruly growth and help your plant grow even more. Using clean scissors or shears, trim offshoots just above an existing leaf node. This will encourage your plant to grow more leaves in that area. If you have a flowering plant, be sure to deadhead, a term for pinching off wilted flowers to encourage more blossoms.

Just be careful not to trim too much — pruning more than ⅓ of a plant’s total foliage can send it into shock.

7. Download a Plant App

There’s an app for everything these days and that includes being a plant parent. Identification apps like PictureThis let you take photos of plants to identify their species, see their care needs, and diagnose common problems like root rot or infestations. Meanwhile, scheduling apps like Planta are great for setting reminders to fertilize, repot and water your indoor garden.

Ready to make an indoor oasis in your very own home? We’re here to help. Get in touch with one of our home guides today.

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