Here are a few key growing tips for houseplants. Please add your own tips at the end of this page!
- Most flowering plants need to be within three feet of a sunny window.
- Most plants require 12 to 16 hours of light per day.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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, ¼ 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.
- 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 ¼ inch of soil and top-dressing with fresh potting soil.