Plant Care Basics: Indoor Plants

plants in a small apartment

Seeing indoor plants grow and thrive in your home is so satisfying. Whether you ordered plants online, received them as a gift or picked them up at a local shop, the plant care basics remain the same. Follow these simple indoor plant care guidelines to keep your houseplants happy and your home green!

Picking the Right Plant

When selecting a house plant, consider how much time you have for plant care, how much space and light is available where your plant will live, and whether you have any special concerns such as pet or child safety, air purification or location. Check our “Plant Care Basics” reference guide to learn the requirements of some popular indoor plants.

indoor plant care guide

Repotting: An Overlooked Plant Care Basic

Your selected plant has arrived at your home. What comes next? Repotting, locating and routine care, such as watering and checking on your plant’s health.

Repotting is an often overlooked plant care basic. Remember, a plant that has maxed out its pot looks full and fantastic (plus the smaller the pot the more plants can be fit on a shelf) so it’s no wonder greenhouses keep things tight. However, without repotting, a new plant is likely to die back to properly fit its display container. So, beyond encouraging growth, repotting is an opportunity for give your plant fresh potting mix and nutrients to grow in.

Planter Pointers

  • Choose a porous material, such as terracotta, ceramic, wood or earthenware, for even drying (and environmental friendliness).
  • Plant “size” measurements often refer to pot diameter. For example, a 4’’ plant likely means a plant growing in a 4” diameter pot, regardless of height or shape. (For example, a candelabra cactus that fits into a 4” pot maybe be 3” or over a foot tall.)  Choose a new pot that is 2-3” larger than your current pot’s diameter.
  • Planters or pots with drainage are especially helpful for new plant owners still developing watering skills. You can create drainage for excess water by lining your planter with small stones. And remember to never pour more than one third of your planter’s size in water.

Plant Placement

sign reading friends are the flowers in the garden of life

In addition to our Indoor Plant Care Guide, check any instructions that came with your houseplant to learn whether it prefers a sunny or shady location in your home. Our chart above may also help. And here are a few more tips:

Check any instructions that came with your houseplant to learn whether it prefers a sunny or shady location in your home. Our chart above may also help. And here are a few more tips:

  • Keep plants away from drafty areas, such as heating or air conditioning vents or frequently used entryways.
  • Do not allow foliage to touch the windows, especially when it’s cold outside.
  • Some plants show signs of stress when moved from one location to another. They may droop or drop leaves but will likely recover as they adapt to their new space.
Watering 101
date book with succulents

Follow care directions for watering frequency but also keep in mind season, temperature and sunlight. Get to know your own plant’s preferences for the very best watering results. And here are a few more helpful suggestions.

  • Avoid getting water on the leaves or stems of succulents, cacti and plants with soft, fuzzy foliage. And tip excess water out of saucers or sleeves to avoid soggy roots.
  • To tell if your plant needs water, feel the soil 1-2 inches below the surface. If it’s dry, water your plant. If you pick up the plant and it feels oddly light, it’s likely time to water. Limp leaves and drooping stems are also common signs of a thirsty plant.
  • Signs that you may be overwatering include wilted, yellow leaves, possibly dropping off. A musty or moldy smell. Small insects, spots or blisters on the undersides of leaves.
  • Most plants prefer to be drier, not wetter. So, if you’re uncertain whether it’s time to water, consider waiting.

We hope your thumbs are feeling greener already. For more plant love, read about indoor gardening or adding plants to your entryway decor.

Here’s to a future of growing plants for a fresh and happy home!

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