Most houseplants are relatively easy to care for once you understand their basic requirements. You don’t have to have a green thumb to take care of houseplants. With the right plants and the proper know-how, you can easily turn your home into a plant paradise.
1. Watering just right every time
If you water your plant too much, it’s basically done for. But if you don’t water your plant enough, it’ll turn into a sad, dry, wilted mess. Luckily, Reagan Kastner, the plant expert behind STYLUSH, shared you have a magical power that will let you know when any type of plant needs water, and it’s all in your finger. “Stick your finger about an inch deep into any plant. If you take it out and you see dirt on it, don’t water it,” she says. And if you stick your finger in and there’s just a little bit of dirt, it’s time to water. It’s as easy as that.
2. Yellowing leaves
If your plant has yellowing leaves, your first step is to trim off damaged foliage with sharp scissors or pruning shears, wiping them clean with rubbing alcohol as you go. If only the tips of the leaves are yellow, you can snip off that portion rather than the whole leaf. Then less frequent watering is the next step,” she says. If you don’t back off your watering schedule, your plant’s roots can begin to rot, which introduces fungal and bacterial issues that are hard to come back from.
3. Learn to tell when your plant is thirsty
Wilting leaves can be a sign your plant needs water. To eliminate the guesswork, an easy way to check is to simply stick your finger two inches deep into the soil. If it feels dry, then it’s most likely time to water. You can also tell if the soil is too dry by lifting up the plant container and gauging its weight. The pot will feel heavier after watering and lighter as the soil dries out, and over time you’ll be able to gauge when the plant has enough moisture.
4. Underwatering is better than overwatering
In general, most houseplants are better off slightly dry than sopping wet. Too much water can cause harmful root rot. When watering, your goal is to make the soil moist but not soggy (with succulents being a notable exception to this rule). Before you water your plants, make sure you place a tray or saucer underneath your potted plants to catch any excess water.
Next, pour the water slowly until you see it trickling out from the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot. Usually, plants only need to be watered once or twice a week—and even less frequently in the cool winter months.
5. Assess the amount of natural light in your home
Different houseplants require different types of light. Direct-light plants (usually succulents) need full sun conditions and should be placed near a south-facing window or on a windowsill flooded with direct sunlight. Bright-light plants require moderate light and can thrive in an east- or west-facing window—or potentially in a south-facing window, providing you place the plant several feet away from the glass. Low-light plants need the shadier conditions of a north-facing window.
If your home doesn’t have the right light requirements for your desired plants, you can purchase an LED or fluorescent grow light to simulate the proper conditions.
6. Monitor and adjust your home’s temperature
Most houseplants thrive in temperatures between 65 and 75°F during the day, with temperatures at night about 10 degrees cooler. If your house stays warmer at night, you can help your indoor plants by opening a window to ensure they get the cool air they need.
7. Control humidity and ventilation
Many houseplant varieties grow best with a level of humidity in the air that is similar to what they would experience in their natural environment. If the air where you live is dry, lightly mist your plants with a spray bottle, or keep a humidifier nearby. Condensation that stays on leaves too long, though, can be harmful, which is why proper airflow is also crucial to maintaining healthy plants. Placing a fan near your houseplants to circulate air can blow away excess moisture and also prevent dust buildup on the leaves.