Houseplant Growing Tips

Houseplant Care Tips

Begonia Houseplant

Houseplants can add color and beauty to your home! Here are a few key growing tips for houseplants


  • 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 (a process 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 winter months. Also, watch those drips because they contain salts, sugars, and other organics that could stain whatever it is they’re dripping on.

Flowering cactus


  • 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.

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 windowsills 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.

Reader Comments

Leave a Comment

Best Bugs Repellent Spray for hydroponics?

around 2 weeks ago i placed some avocado seeds in water to see if anything would happen and one is cracking which is awesome however im worried about future bugs because that is the only reason my parents are against house plants perhaps is there a good liquid to add to the water or a spray to repell any bugs from coming

Growing Avocados in Water

Hi Jenny,

As long as your seeds are being grown indoors, you shouldn’t have any trouble with bugs. The only way insects could be a problem is if potted plants that have been outdoors for a while were brought indoors and left near your avocado seedlings. Good luck growing your avocado trees!

Mosquito plant

I have a mosquito plant that I have indoors in the soil I see little white bugs and little brown like worms what can I do to put inside the dirt to kill him

Mosquito Plant

Hi Nicole,

To start, try mixing a spray bottle of 10 parts water to 1 part apple cider vinegar and spraying the foliage and base of the plant ever couple of days for a week or two. If no change occurs, try adding the liquid of blended hot peppers to the spray bottle, and apply mildly to the plant. Be careful, as too much of the hot pepper liquid can harm the foliage of plants. We hope this helps!

Vegetables and House Plants

I have learned so much from the Farmers Almanac, just like a classroom.


My Christmas Cactus

Hi. I need some help. I have a beautiful full Christmas Cactus that stays beautiful green year round but I cannot get it to produce its beautiful flowers. I water it only when the soil becomes very dry. Can you tell me what I am doing wrong and why I cannot get my Christmas Cactus to bloom year after year?

Christmas cactus not blooming

Hi Carolyn, Yes, there’s a real trick to getting Christmas cactus to bloom–which comes down to very particular lighting and temperature. Here’s at advice from MSU extension: 

Christmas cacti produce flowers in a cool, environment-short day cycle. To initiate the production of flower buds, there needs to be at least eight days of 16 hours of dark and eight hours of light each day. Wherever the plant is placed, do not turn on the lights at night, even for a short period of time. That breaks the dark cycle required. The temperature should be around 61 degrees. Avoid placing the plant where it receives either cold or hot air drafts.

Placing the Christmas cactus on the window sill in a cool room and not turning on the lights is all that’s needed. If the plant was in a lighted room, often the side to the window develops buds, but the lighted side of the plant does not. If the plant sets flower buds and then they fall off, it usually has to do with either receiving too much or not enough water or lack of air humidity. The good news is that Christmas cacti are considered relatively easy to get to bloom again if their temperature and light requirements are met.

Hard soil on houseplants

Three weeks ago, I re-potted several of my house plants, with indoor/outdoor potting soil, watered them well, and they looked beautiful - for the first week. Then they began to look droopy, yet the soil was still wet, so I figured it was the shock of the re-potting. Last week, when I checked the soil, it was hard. I'm talking ROCK hard, and the plants are still droopy. What could be the problem, wrong mix of soil? How do I fix it? I've had these plants for years. HELP!


Hi Vicki,

Without knowing the exact plants, it’s hard to know specifically what’s wrong. However, from what you’ve described, there are a couple of possibilities. It could be shock (most likely option) from the re-potting, or from over watering. Another option is that, if your potting soil is old, it dried out too much at some point and has become unhealthy. It could also simply be too well-draining, and not retaining any water. 

Sad clematis

my 4 yr old clematis grows several feet looking healthy, but then just as I think it is flowering suddenly it starts dying off from the bottom. After a while I see something is eating the leaves. they are full of holes. What is doing that and how can I get rid of this?


What causes the tips of leaves turning brown?

Houseplants tips of leaves turning brown

Usually, brown tips on the leaves of houseplants means that you’re not watering enough and watering properly. Water until some water runs out drainage hole in bottom or submerge pot in a pail of water for 5 minutes. Drain off excess water. Repeat when soil is dry to touch.

Trouble in the front room...

I have a massive window in my South-facing living room. Opposite of the window is a glass slider off the kitchen. My problem is this: I get tons of sunlight but the room gets drafty in the winter. I have tried so many types of potted plants only to watch them suffer a slow, painful demise...please help me find the right plant for my space! I'm hoping to find a large indoor plant that can live in a giant pot resting on the floor, as opposed to a smaller hanging variety. THANK YOU in advance for your help.

sunlight vs draft

We would advise that you eliminate the draft. The problem is not the plant; it’s the source of the draft, presumably, the slider. Even if that is your entrance/egress, you may be able to minimize the draft. Talk to someone at a hardware store or, if you know one, a builder/handy man. Some of these folks know all kinds of efficient (inexpensive) ways to fix common problems. We wish you luck! 

Kalanchoe potted plant

In what size pot should I grow my indoor Kalanchoe flowering plant. I just received a small potted Kalanchoe plant in full bloom. Should I transplant it into a bigger pot?

Re-potting Kalanchoe

There is no set size. It depends on whether or not the root zone is being cramped. If it is root bound, wait until it is done blooming, then re-pot it. Water well before disturbing it and be sure to break up the mass of roots a bit before replanting. A general rule of thumb: Use a pot that is two inches larger in diameter than the one it is in now.

cleaning plants in the fall

Before bringing my plants in after being outside most of the summer, I use a tub of luke warm water and 1/4 c lemon ammonia then rinse with fresh luke warm water to clean off bugs and give the plant a boost. then transplant in fresh potting soil. So far my house has been like a jungle in the winter. This works with any plant that leaves can get wet. Don't do it with your African violet!

Anthurium white spots in soil

Hello! Very informative site! I read through the article you posted about house plant "bugs" but I couldn't identify my type. My anthurium has very small white "dots" /"bugs" in the soil, not the leaves. I can see them when I water it. Any thoughts on what they could be?

Hi Dan,

Hi Dan,

Hard to say what you have in the soil. It could be thrips, spider mites or something else. Check the link below for more information. Repotting the plant and using good quality potting soil may help. Neem oil and insecticidal soap sprays may also be helpful.



Have had my anthurium/flamingo flower for 4 years. Has gotten taller and now has a leafless stalk about 4 inches high before the leaves grow- looks like bottom of a palm tree. VERY unattractive. Is this normal? What can be done about it?

Calahtea-Eternal Flame

Hello, I have bought Calathea about a month ago with three flowers on it. But after two weeks second flower also started fading, and last days there appear to be a lot of brown marks on its leaves. We have put it in room next to window. Not so cold. and tried to water it when soil gets drier. But I guess it is wrong. what should we do?

Thank you.

My roommate recently acquired

My roommate recently acquired a plant with a crested gecko. She didn't want it in there any more, so I took it from her. When I watered it last, I noticed there were small white bugs about the size of the hole in a sewing needle in the soil. Two questions:

What are they?

How do I get rid of them?

About a third of my purple

About a third of my purple shamrock's leave are drooping. What do I do? I've thinned them out, but it keeps on happening.

Hi Gordon, Shamrocks need

Hi Gordon,
Shamrocks need watering about twice a week. Let the soil dry between waterings. They also need warm filtered sun at least 8 hours a day. Is the pot too small? If it is, you may want to repot the plant in a slightly bigger pot.

Thanks. They get the right

Thanks. They get the right sun and the pot is pretty good size. Other than that, I don't know what to do.
Thanks again.

Plz help me i have alot of

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

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

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

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

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.

Hello, About 40 years ago, my

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!

Its called a (Hen and

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

They weren't hen and chicks

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

You may be looking for a

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

Hello, The Mexican Hat Plant

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.

I grew up calling it a mother

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

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

We had same plants in our

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.

Mystery plant that turned in

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 may take over my entire yard! Any help finding out what this plant is called would be very much appreciated. Thanks! -Maddie

Plant name

It is a maternity plant... I have to cut mine down every two or three years... It is inside and it grows to the ceiling..

Johnny Jump UPS

Tiny and delicate plant looks like a very, very miniature delicate pansy. Grow from seed in the very early spring, does not like heat. Mine always dies out after the first or second year. I have found it in some of our local nurseries and our local FFA nursery greenhouse grew alot of it for their annual plant sale. They add it to flowering baskets. My grandparents in eastern OR had alot it growing around their yard, we have grown it here in Northern ID but our soil is solid clay, prefers rich loamy soil and does not like heat. Good luck !

I remember a plant that I had

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

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

Maternity Plant

My mother had these plants in a shallow dish on a windowsill when I was growing up. All of our neighbors had them as well. After moving out on my own I tried for about 10 years to find one, as everyone who had them when I was growing up, had long-since gotten rid of theirs. They are bryophyllum. They used to be classified as Kalanchoe, but are not considered bryophyllum. My brother is able to grow them outdoors,year-round in Phoenix, but here in Las Vegas, I grow them as an indoor plant.

I have a panda plant and it

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.

The plant your looking for

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

Maternity Plant

I would be happy to send you starts.... not sure how to get to you for name and address..

Coukd this be a succulent

I believe this may be a succulent called, Mother of Thousands. You can Google it to see photo. Good luck!

Have a rose bush indoor gnats

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

These pests are related to

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

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

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

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:

I give my plants left over

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

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

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

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

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.

Hi, I have this same problem

Hi, I have this same problem too but my plants are herbs. Should I be concerned about layering sandon the soil my herbs grow out of? I do use my herbs to cook with.

Hi, I have a Dieffenbachia

Hi, I have a Dieffenbachia and Candy Corn Plant. I have the same bugs but they started after bringing the Candy Corn in for Fall/Winter and replanting in a different planter. Is this still Fungus Gnats?
Thank you.

My house plant has tiny white

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

It would help to know what

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

Same issue me 2 its peace lily
Can u help

I have the same problem- the

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!

I bought an indoor majesty

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

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

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

For June 2013: The Moon's

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

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

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

You can repot anytime--and

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

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

alcohol/H2O/dish soap mixture and the garlic cloves

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

id like to know the amount of garlic dish soap and alcohol

I would like to know the amount of garlic dish soap and alcohol. Please give the ingredients if possible. Thank you!


Hi, Brennen: There are many different types of and formulas for homemade insecticides for different insects, all of which usually work to some degree. The first thing to do is thoroughly spray-wash the plant with water. Usually such insecticides are made by the quart; here, we will make up a pint (2 cups) because we will be experimenting. Formula A: 2C water, ½ teaspoon dish soap, stir. Spray that on for a few days and see what happens. If no success, spray wash clean with water and wait for two days, then Formula B: Formula A plus 1½ teaspoons rubbing alchohol. If no success, spray-wash and wait, then Formula C: Formula B plus ¾ teaspoon minced fresh garlic. If no success, check to make sure that your plant isn’t plastic. If not, keep experimenting–one of these should work, and feel free to tweak on your own, always making sure that your concoction is well diluted. Good luck and thanks for asking!