You may not know it, but every home needs a few houseplants. They can bring life into a dull room and significantly improve your mood. Houseplants can also positively affect your overall health as they work at removing pollution from the room.
Some people love houseplants, and you’ll find every available corner filled with a variety of stunning green growth. Others are not so fond of them and avoid having them in their homes at all costs. Then there is the poor person who likes houseplants but seems to end up with a withered heap in a pot full of dirt every single time.
If you’re a houseplant novice, you can still grace your home with a variety of easy houseplants that don’t come with a shopping list of care instructions. Whether you are new to caring for houseplants or you’ve managed to keep your existing plants alive, this definitive houseplant care guide will ensure you keep your green babies alive and flourishing.
Houseplants make fantastic gifts, and you may have been given one as a birthday or housewarming present. If it didn’t come with a label, you might be wondering, “What is my houseplant?” You can look online or download an app to identify your plant once you use the app to take a picture[i].
If you’re new to houseplants, it’s best to choose the ones that are easy to care for. This is especially important if you work long hours or tend to forget to water them. Some of the high maintenance houseplants such as orchids and azaleas are visually stunning, but they require a high level of care. Most beginners are attracted to these gorgeous and very popular houseplants but tend to overwater or underwater, resulting in a dead plant. This often leads to defeat, and many people then throw out all their plants rather than risk destroying every last one of them.
Start with a few low maintenance plants. These are the ones that you can plant in pots and almost forget about them. Most of them only need a little watering once a week, and with some, you can get away with forgetting to water them for almost a month.
Take a look at some of these plants to start your houseplant collection:
Pots for houseplants come in every imaginable size, colour and even materials. Before you start choosing your pots, make sure you know what you intend to plant in them. Some plants have a very intricate and extensive root system, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at the foliage at the top. These plants will need a pot with enough space for the roots to grow correctly and keep the leaves looking lush and healthy.
By the same token, you don’t want to put a small houseplant in an overly large pot. Yes, it may eventually grow into it, but you may be looking at a small plant in a disproportionately large pot for a very long time. More than anything, this can lead to you over-watering the plant. It’s much better to get the right-sized pot and to repot your houseplants as they grow.
While you’re choosing the perfect pot for your plants, look at investing in some self-watering pots. These are perfect for forgetful plant owners. Self-watering planters work by keeping a consistent moisture level around the roots so your plants will remain robust and healthy.
Do houseplants need special compost? Not necessarily. Perfectly healthy plants need a perfect potting mix. Many people think of potting mix as soil, but it’s actually a blend of compost, peat moss and vermiculite (a hydrous phyllosilicate mineral known for helping to retain water and nutrients as well as keeping the soil aerated). Potting mixes are the perfect medium to give your houseplants a great start.
All types of houseplants will also thrive if they have good drainage. You can easily give your plants good drainage by adding a layer of rocks to the bottom of your planters. Small stones are readily available in most garden centres, and they’ll create the ideal environment to keep the soil damp enough for healthy plants, and you’ll be less likely to overwater your precious botanicals.
Plants rely on a delicate balance of sunlight to survive. They count on the process of photosynthesis to grow. Photosynthesis is the plant’s method of converting carbon dioxide into oxygen and is crucial for the plant’s survival.[ii].
The right light can make all the difference in keeping your plants robust and healthy. Some plants thrive when they are placed in direct sunlight, while others will inevitably wilt and perish. Keep in mind that sunlight through a glass window is often magnified, which is why you need to do a little research to know where to place your pots to ensure they get enough sunlight without overkill.
Arrange a collection next to a window with lots of sunlight and place an accent chair with arms to create a cosy corner for you to enjoy quiet time to enjoy a nice cup of herbal tea while you read a daily newspaper or the latest best-selling novel.
If you have plants that are perhaps too delicate to be positioned in direct sunlight, you may want to find a nice spot in the room where they won’t be blasted by sunlight blaring through your windows. Low light houseplants adapt more readily in corners away from windows, or you can place smaller ones on a coffee table or end table. Just make sure you know which plants to position in direct sunlight and which ones need to be moved away from the windows.
Many beginner green thumbs tend to kill their houseplants with kindness. They run around the house with their watering cans giving their plants a thorough watering almost daily. The key to healthy plants is to keep the soil moist without saturating it. Most houseplants only need light watering once or twice a week in the warmer months and once or twice a month in the colder months. If you have central heating then you may need to pay more attention to the soil as the plants may dry out from endless months of heating.
Another sign of affection your plants will appreciate is to give them a light mist of water. All you need is a clean spray bottle full of water and a regular spritz to keep the leaves and flowers looking bright and happy.
While potting mix has enough nutrients to feed your houseplants when you first pot them, it’s only a matter of time before all those nutrients are absorbed by the plant. To keep your plants healthy, it’s important to keep them well fed with fertilizer[iii].
There are many different types of fertilizer for houseplants. Some are dry little beads that slowly dissolve as you water while others you mix with water in the watering can once a month and deliver the nutrients that way. Simply follow the instructions on the packaging and your plants will thrive.
All plants grow; that’s what they do. That cute little plant you got last year suddenly looks like it has overgrown its home. A plant in a pot that is too small can’t grow the way it should. When this happens, it’s time for a bit of repotting.
So, how to repot a houseplant? It’s quite easy if you follow these simple steps:
Even if you have slow-growing plants, it’s a good idea to replace the soil or potting mix for your houseplants. Follow the steps for repotting, but you can use the same pot. Just get rid of the old potting mixture and replace it with new.
Don’t be shy around your houseplants as most of them are relatively easy to look after. With a little bit of love and care, you can create your own indoor Garden of Eden. Once you learn how to care for houseplants and look at your successes with pride and joy, you’ll find yourself wanting to add more and more of these stunning beauties to make your house look like a warm and inviting home.
Office and marketing manager for Sloane & Sons Stylish Chairs, who sell a range of high-quality tub chairs, accent chairs and more.