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Houseplants: Growing Tips

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Here are a few key growing tips for houseplants. Please add your own tips at the end of this page!

Light

  • Most flowering plants need to be within three feet of a sunny window.
  • Most plants require 12 to 16 hours of light per day.

Water

  • In late fall, water houseplants sparingly until the light begins to increase in the new year.
  • More houseplants die from overwatering than from anything else.
  • Water plants with room-temperature water.
  • Add a few drops of ammonia to one quart of water used for houseplants; it will improve foliage color and increase growth.
  • Water houseplants in unglazed clay pots frequently.
  • Frequent mistings under the leaves of houseplants will discourage spider mites.
  • If your houseplant leaves are dripping, even when you haven't watered, it's trying to rid itself of excess water (called "guttation"). This makes a plant vulnerable to disease-causing bacteria, so you'll want to avoid this problem by reducing the amount of water you're giving the plant, especially in these winter months. Also, watch those drips because they contain salts, sugars, and other organics that could stain whatever it is they're dripping on.

Humidity

  • Most houseplants are happiest when the relative humidity is 50 percent or higher.
  • Group houseplants near each other to form a support group to cope with the low humidity of most winter homes.

Fertilizer

  • Fertilize your houseplants frequently to ensure vigorous growth.
  • In winter, however, feed sparingly; house plants will be sensitive to overfeeding at this time of year.

Pests

  • To get rid of bugs in houseplants, push a clove of garlic into the plant's soil. If the garlic sprouts and grows, just cut it back.
  • Spider mites are apt to thrive in warm, dry houses. Frequent misting under the leaves of houseplants will discourage them. A solution of 1 cup flour, 1/4 cup buttermilk, and a gallon of cool water, applied in a mist, is a good organic deterrent.
  • Your houseplants may sprout bugs once brought inside your house because they no longer have outdoor predators.
  • Remove aphids from houseplants with a mixture of equal parts rubbing alcohol and water and add a drop of dishwashing detergent. Apply this to troubled plants with a soft brush.

Winter Months

  • In colder regions, houseplants that have been outside for the summer should be brought in at the end of of July. A sudden cold spell will be too much of a shock for them to survive. This is also a good time to take cuttings.
  • It's also good to bring in plants before you start heating your home. This gives them a chance to adjust. Wash them thoroughly before bringing them in to rid them of any pests and eggs.
  • You can also dig up your rosemary, basil, tarragon, oregano, marjoram, English thyme, parsley, and chives to grow them inside as houseplants. Keep them in a cool, sunny spot, and allow the soil to dry out before watering. Snip off the leaves as needed in the kitchen, but do not strip them completely.
  • Divide and re-pot any pot-bound plants so they will grow well during spring and summer. Prune judiciously to create a compact, attractive specimen.
  • Provide extra protection to houseplants on window sills if it is very cold. Place cardboard between the plants and the glass. Be sure the plants don't touch the windowpanes.
  • As houseplants are growing more slowly in December light, cut down on watering by half until active growth resumes. Hold off on fertilizing as well.
  • If your plants seem a little worse for the winter, provide lots of sunlight, fresh air, and frequent bathing.

More Houseplant Tips

  • Save the water from cooking pasta. Let it cool, then use it to water houseplants.If the soil of your houseplants get algae, loosen the dirt in your pots periodically.
  • Open the doors and windows when temperatures permit to give your house a change of air. This will benefit you and your houseplants. Re-invigorate your houseplants by removing the top 1/4 inch of soil and top-dressing with fresh potting soil.

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Comments

Plz help me i have alot of

By Ayman ismail

Plz help me i have alot of small white tiny bugs in soil and inside core of plant
Its peace lily
What can i do :/

I just brought in my hibiscus

By Lois Pamenter

I just brought in my hibiscus in for the winter. We are in Wisconsin. What can I do to ensure I keep it alive all winter.

Hi, Lois, There are numerous

By Almanac Staff

Hi, Lois, There are numerous varieties of hibiscus; we'll assume you mean a tropical plant. The change of environment could cause your plant to drop its leaves. It's normal; your house is drier than outdoors. Humidity—not simply more water—could help recreate slightly tropical conditions. If you brought it indoors in outdoor soil you might want to replant it into a sterile medium designed for optimal drainage. Also consider giving it artificial light for about 13 hours per day.

That said, some experts advise giving the plant a rest by letting it dry out and putting it into a cool room for a couple of months (the darkest) and then bringing it back into a south-facing window, cutting it back a bit (above a bud or lateral branch), and restoring watering.

 

I have a split-leaf

By C. Birdsall

I have a split-leaf philodendron who's leaves have a big black spot and it spreads and the leaves dies. What can I do to save my plant? HELP!!

It sounds like you have

By Almanac Staff

It sounds like you have bacterial blight. Remove and discard infected leaves and make sure not to get any water on the healthy leaves and stem when watering. See link below for more information.

http://extension.psu.edu/pests/plant-diseases/all-fact-sheets/philodendr...

Hello, About 40 years ago, my

By TeresaM

Hello, About 40 years ago, my kindergarten teacher gave my mother a plant that was called a Johnny Jump Off or something like that. It had a main plant and then little pieces would fall off that would start new plants. I have searched high and low and cannot seem to find anyone who knows what these could be. Do you? They aren't a spider plant or hen and chicks. Best that I can remember, the little pieces that fell off of them had like 2-3 tiny leaf shapes in a cluster and the plant we had was just full of them! I would love to be able to find this particular type of plant. Thanks for any help or assistance you might have!

The plant your looking for

By Ellie

The plant your looking for goes by several names , it's sometimes called alligator plant , kalanchoe , mother of millions , or maternity plant .
Good luck finding one :) !! Try ebay , they have tons of them for sale on there and some with free shipping !!
They also have several different kinds for sale on there .
Good luck !! I hope you find some
Ellie

I have a panda plant and it

By Karen Pre

I have a panda plant and it is beautiful!!! One of the leaves is growing a new plant right now, it is just a suggestion to buy one of these...but I believe the previous posts are spot on with what you are looking for/remembering.

I remember a plant that I had

By MarshaG

I remember a plant that I had that was called a "pregnancy" or "pregnant" plant. The baby plants just dropped off the edges of the main plants leaves and grew! You couldn't keep up with the amount that fell. This was years ago, but your description reminded me of that plant! Hope that helps! Happy hunting!

It's a Kalanchoe

By Almanac Staff

It's a Kalanchoe Daigremontiana "Mother of Thousands".  It's also known as "Maternity Plant", "Mother of Millions", and "Alligator Plant".

Mystery plant that turned in

By Maddie Higgins

Mystery plant that turned in to many plants. Sounds similar to what you are talking about. I do not however know the name of it. Did you ever find out what it's called?
To give you a better idea of my plant(s); I got a piece of this one out of a pot someone had that had hundreds of them, but she didn't know what they were called. I planted it @ my home and it has grown to approx. 4ft. tall. It looks like a succulent of some type w/ bundles of leaves that cluster in a flower shape going up the plant. Each leaf (I guess you would call it a leaf) has about 70 tiny green & black seeds that outline the leaf. The little seeds fall off very easily and wherever they fall a new flower shape cluster starts to grow! It's really cool. They even grow in my other potted plants outside and I end up with close to, if not over 100 little flower shaped plants. They even grow out of the tiny cracks in the cement on the walls of my stairs! Somehow the little seeds just fall off, land somewhere and start to grow! "The stalks are kind of thick and seem strong. People ask me: "how is that plant standing up so tall!" It just grows, no stake needed to hold it up; though it looks almost impossible it's standing that tall without something to hold it up. I have 2 that are tall like that, just growing like they are headed to the sky & in small pots too! everyone that sees it wants to know what kind of plant it is...but I don't know! I really wish I knew. I have so many of them. The roots come up so easily... I just say "oh, you like it!?" "Here take one!". My sister in law said it looked pre-historic! Honestly, I would be kinda afraid to give it miracle grow...it may take over my entire yard! Any help finding out what this plant is called would be very much appreciated. Thanks! -Maddie

We had same plants in our

By Minsedona

We had same plants in our front flower bed about 65 years ago and my mother called it Johnny jump ups. I have seen packs of seeds at places like Home Depot and walmart.

I grew up calling it a mother

By kyndel

I grew up calling it a mother plant, Google has given me good results with that name. Hope it helps.

Thank you Kyndel, I will try

By TeresaM

Thank you Kyndel, I will try that and see if I can find what I'm looking for that way!

You may be looking for a

By Ron Fulber

You may be looking for a Mexican Hat plant as I know them.

Hello, The Mexican Hat Plant

By TeresaM

Hello,
The Mexican Hat Plant isn't quite it-this one never flowered. But that is closer than anyone has gotten! (and I have looked off and on for many years!)
Thank you so much for responding. I truly appreciate it.
Teresa

They weren't hen and chicks

By TeresaM

They weren't hen and chicks or spider plants...something different. Thank you for your suggestion though!

Its called a (Hen and

By MelodyWatt

Its called a (Hen and chickens, Chlorophytum comosum) Plant hope that would help :)

Have a rose bush indoor gnats

By gmez

Have a rose bush indoor gnats and I seen a spider. How do I remove

These pests are related to

By Almanac Staff

These pests are related to the rose bush being indoors for too long. Roses aren't naturally indoor plants and many problems will arise as the mites won't have their natural predators indoors.

You may want to consider freshly repotting in a larger pot .You can also use a miticide such as Bayer's 3-in-1--or, just fill a bucket with soapy water (1/2 tsp dish detergent per gallon if water), and dip the plant upside-down to remove the bugs. Repeat once a week for at least 3 weeks (the mites have a 10-day life cycle), and maybe once a month afterwards. Mist your plant occasionally, too.

However, the main thing is to move your plant outdoors or in the ground as soon as weather allows. 

Brown Algae vs Root Rot

By jana_83

Brown Algae vs Root Rot Help

I was recently (6 days ago) given Purple Heart, aka Purple Queen, cuttings to root & pot. I left the them in water until they rooted, and they now have a brown algae all over the ends that were submerged. I removed them from water, rubbed off the algae and rinsed the ends. I don't see anything I recognise as a root, unless they are a thicker root than I'm used to seeing on a young plant? Is it ok to place them in a pot with soil? Should I dip rinse them with a hydrogen peroxide mixture first? Should I dip them in a rooting hormone? Is this considered root rot? Could it potentially spread to my other houseplants? Thank you in advance for your help.

I have seven plants 1 bamboo

By stephaniecanales

I have seven plants 1 bamboo 1 giant amaryllis 2 bonsai trees and 3 calla summer sunsets and they have seem to be having white critters in the soil not on the plants themselves I don't see any on the bamboo but idk is there will be tho Wat should I do

We tend to use spray

By Almanac Staff

We tend to use spray insecticidal soap (which you can buy or make) or Neem oil. Here is a good page listing the main culprits and what you can do, including more serious solutions: http://www.extension.umn.edu/garden/insects/find/houseplant-insect-control/

I give my plants left over

By Tracina

I give my plants left over coffee. Just add your coffee to some water, your plants will love it. I wouldn't give them cream or sugar, I'm sure they prefer very weak and black!

I have three yucca

By vlowe1526

I have three yucca elephantipes and since the summer they have been doing very poorly inside, I pfobably been overwatering them! What can I do? I repotted and cut down on the waterings and started giving them plant food every two weeks along with trimming off the dead leaves. What am I doing wrong?? Help!!

These are desert plants. Give

By Almanac Staff

These are desert plants. Give them as much direct sunlight as possible by placing them in the brightest spot available. Allow the soil to completely dry out between waterings (this is very important). Good drainage is also crucial. Fertilize once monthly during the winter months.

Help. My peace lilly and

By Amandam

Help. My peace lilly and anthurium seem to be infested with little flies that resemble fruit flies. When I water the plants I see the bugs flying out.

Most likely you have fungus

By Almanac Staff

Most likely you have fungus gnats. The gnats don't harm your plants but lay eggs in the soil. The larvae of the gnats live in the top of the soil feeding on decaying roots and wet soil.
Remove and discard some of the loose soil around your plants without disturbing the roots. Add fresh sterile soil and a thin layer of sand to the surface of the soil. Let the soil dry out and only water when your plants start to wilt.

My house plant has tiny white

By Robin S.

My house plant has tiny white bugs running around in the soil. None on the plant itself. Will the clove of garlic kill them or what else should I try? Thanks so much

I have the same problem- the

By Tiffany94

I have the same problem- the little white bugs that are in the soil but don't appear to be on the plant. I don't' know what kind of plant it is, except that it resembles a bamboo like stem, the stems are brown near the soil, but they turn green as they extend. The branches are too limp to hold up (as a tree would) and it blooms pink flowers sometimes. I need help!

It would help to know what

By Almanac Staff

It would help to know what kind of houseplant as well as what the bugs look like. You might want to bring it in to a local garden center for identification.

Same issue me 2 its peace

By Ayman ismail

Same issue me 2 its peace lily
Can u help

I bought an indoor majesty

By av

I bought an indoor majesty palm an di planted them in a pot with potting soil.i cannot put it inside due to the smell of probably the cow manure from the potting soil.what is the remedy for this ?

The quickest remedy would be

By Almanac Staff

The quickest remedy would be to re-pot the plant using a different type of potting soil--you might ask a garden nursery which brands have the least odor. Also, you might try adding coir or peat, along with perlite, to the new potting soil.

when is the sign in the

By mkp

when is the sign in the thighs or knees to repot houseplants?

For June 2013: The Moon's

By Almanac Staff

For June 2013:
The Moon's astrological place is in Sagittarius (thighs) on June 21 and 22. In Capricorn (knees) on June 23 and 24.

Saving the water from cooking

By Suzzella

Saving the water from cooking pasta for use on houseplants made my day. I have never connected the two. Thank ya' for the great tip!

when can i move my mini roses

By nikka_dvl

when can i move my mini roses into a bigger pot? when is the best time for that?

You can repot anytime--and

By Almanac Staff

You can repot anytime--and should. However, it's best to avoid repotting during a very hot summer and better to repot in spring, fall, or winter. Don't expose the roots very long. Before you repot, cut off any dead blooms to just above a leaf attachment. Report, water, and then fertilize with a rose fertilizer every two to three weeks during active growth.

I love you guys, you are so

By Feistyfdlr

I love you guys, you are so helpful! I, too, really enjoy the therapeutic benefits of working with houseplants and coming home to my very own "forest/jungle", but have serious issues with aphids to where I have had to get rid of some because they had become over run with them to the point the soil stunk really bad. I am SO looking forward to ensuring this does not happen again once I start using this alcohol/H2O/dish soap mixture and the garlic cloves. Thanks again!

alcohol/H2O/dish soap mixture

By Lori Pross

alcohol/H2O/dish soap mixture and the garlic cloves

This sounds like an interesting mixture. Could you send the amounts to me?

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