Your Guide to Healthy Houseplants

I’m an outdoor garden person. It’s where my thumb shines the greenest. These five tips have helped me keep my houseplants happy and healthy.

I'm an outdoor garden person. It's where my thumb shines the greenest. These five tips have helped me keep my houseplants happy and healthy.

My strength is not in houseplants, but as I mentioned before, growing indoors is something everyone should do. I do much better with my outdoor gardens (maybe because nature is there to prevent my neglect). I have killed more houseplants than I care to admit to. I am, however, always improving. These five tips have helped me keep my plants happy and healthy.

1. Don’t Over Water

Sadly, this is the number one killer of all houseplants. In our desire to have happy healthy plants, we tend to be a little heavy-handed with the water. Don’t feel bad. You’re heart was in the right place and we’ve all done it.

It’s a little-known fact that plants take in air through their roots. When they sit in a constant soggy state, they drown. Instead of drowning your beloved plant, wait until the top 1″ of the soil is dry before watering. When you do water, pour slowly and stop when the water begins to trickle through the drain holes in the bottom of the pot. Your pots do have drain holes, right?

2. Drain, Drain, Drain!

Have you ever seen that white buildup on your pots? It’s salt build-up and it’s usually most visible on terracotta pots. Don’t think that just because you don’t see it, it isn’t happening. With ceramic and glass the salts wont leach through, but they are still there.

Salt build-up is also related to watering. If you don’t water the soil from top to bottom then the salt levels will increase. There is a reason your fern doesn’t live in the ocean, plants don’t like high levels of salt. By watering as suggested above, you will flush the salts out when you water. Self-watering plant pots seem like a good thing for brown thumb indoor gardeners like myself, but they do more harm than good.

I'm an outdoor garden person. It's where my thumb shines the greenest. These five tips have helped me keep my houseplants happy and healthy.
Remove staining on terracotta by soaking the planter in a solution of 1 part vinegar and 4 parts water. Allow it to soak for 20-30 minutes. Give it a good scrub with a stiff brush and rinse well.

3. Understand Humidity

Much like low humidity dries out our skin, the leaves of your plant can suffer dryness in low humidity. You’ll know you have a humidity issue when the tips of the leaves start browning and getting crispy. Humidity is an easy problem to fix. You can either place your pot and drip tray in a platter of water (so the plant is not sitting in the water but is instead surrounded by water) or you can mist your plant daily.

I’ve found that my plants appreciate a tropical vacation to the bathroom during shower night from time to time. The steam from the shower perks even the saddest plant up.

4. Understand Pest Problems

Not sure if you’ve got a pest problem? Look for discolored or curled leaves and plants that look limp despite watering. You don’t have to be an entomologist (bug person), but you should know the most common houseplant pests:

  • Spider Mites
    To discover if you have spider mites, place a sheet of white paper under damaged leaves. Tap the leaves, then watch for tiny moving creatures on the paper.
  • Mealy Bugs
    You can identify mealy bugs my the white cottony fibers you’ll see developing on your plants.
  • Scales
    You will see these brown dots at the joints of your plants. They like to hang out where the leaf connects to the stalk of the plant, but they can be found around the roots as well.
  • Aphids
    Aphids come in a wide variety of colors. They are highly infectious. Once they’ve killed a plant, they will move on to a healthier one.

5. Prevent Pot Bound Plants

Growing Herbs Indoors

I have several run-of-the-mill houseplants, such as jade, spider plants, aloe, but my favorite indoor plants are herbs. Lemongrass is by far the easiest because you don’t have to worry about over watering. It grows in water. Chives, mint, oregano, and parsley are great indoor herbs as well. They are fairly tolerant of neglect and you can find a lot of use for them in the kitchen. Thyme and rosemary are also nice additions, but they can be more difficult to grow indoors. I haven’t had success with rosemary indoors or out, but my mom has pulled it off, so I know it’s possible.

Hopefully with these tips you will be well on your way to happy, healthy houseplants.

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I'm an outdoor garden person. It's where my thumb shines the greenest. These five tips have helped me keep my houseplants happy and healthy.

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  1. Nina Paul` says:

    Every plant has a different moisture requirement, how do I control that?

  2. Keith Soucy says:

    Good info, thanks for posting.
    Another helpful thing is to let the water you use for plants sit out overnight or longer so that the chlorine in the water dissipates. This is another chemical that your plants don’t need.

  3. Jann Olson says:

    Really great tips! I think a lot of people over water and don’t realize the importance of drainage. I plant paperwhites and an Amaryllis for Christmas, but other than that; the only houseplants I usually have any more are herbs. Thanks for sharing with SYC.

  4. I’m not very good at houseplants either! Especially herbs….I kill them every winter. *sigh* Great tips!

    Thanks again for linking up with Green Thumb Thursday. I hope you’ll join us this week!


  5. I too have a hard time with houseplants (I try to name them so I will treat them as pets). Great tips. I’ve found that my front bay window gets the perfect indirect light for most of my plants but gets too cold in the winter. Moving them around alot helps find the best home!

    1. Great and wonderful tips,thanks for sharing your brilliant ideas.

  6. Ray Grahams Ltd says:

    Some fantastic tips with regards to naturally maintaining plants! Often horticultural enthusiasts can make the common mistake of not “striking” a balance when it comes to the natural maintenance of plants etc. This is a simple & well outlined article that makes for a good read and covers some key points which are crucial to the good development of your greenery!

    With regards to your 4th point! Pest control solutions are also a cheap and alternative method to maintaining healthy plants. The best products are scientifically designed to kill a range of pests – mites, bugs, aphids, woodlouse, caterpillars and many more WHILE / PROMOTING and stimulating healthy plant growth, Keeping the greens green and the bugs dead!

  7. kürdistan haberleri says:

    great tips! thanks for sharing :).

  8. Mike the Gardener says:

    great tips! thanks for sharing 🙂