How to Care for Indoor House Plants

A few years ago, the thought of maintaining indoor house plants was an intimidating thought but after I researched tips on how to keep my greenery alive, I realized even I could turn my black thumb around.  If you’re hesitant like I was to embrace indoor greenery, consider the three main benefits of adding indoor plants to your home:

  1. They purify the air.  Plants increase oxygen levels and remove toxins from the air which can be found in furniture, finishes, air fresheners, deodorants and certain household cleaners.  A study by Nasa scientists found that plants absorb and break down the most harmful of these chemicals through their leaves, to promote a healthy indoor eco-system.
  2. They instantly brighten up an indoor space. Plants are an inexpensive way to spruce up a room especially when paired with a chic planter or a rattan basket.
  3. They boost our mood.  Plants decrease stress, anxiety, and fatigue by providing a calmer environment.

Okay, so once you’re convinced you need an indoor plant in your home, the next step is learning how to care for it.  Here are seven simple steps I’ve adopted for successful plant care.

  1. Keep the leaves clean:  You can use either a damp paper towel or a micro-fibre cloth.  Be sure to clean every leaf front and back.  I typically do this once a week.
  2. Mist plants every day:  The two plants I own (split leaf philodendron and chamaedorea otherwise known as a parlour palm) are tropical so they love humid environments.  I use this plant mister but if you’re looking for something prettier that you want to display, this one is an ideal option.
  3. Fertilizer:  Good soil makes all the difference.  I use this water soluable fertilizer once a month.
  4. Water:   This goes without saying but keep in mind, over watering or under watering can kill a plant.  Generally, plants only need to be watered once a week and cacti/succulents are only to be watered bi-weekly.  You can also go by the dry to the touch rule which is if a plant’s soil feels dry at the top, it needs to be watered.  Some plants require more specific watering instructions but they usually come with a special tag indicating that.
  5. Drainage:  Proper drainage is a must.  Make sure your plant’s container has the right drainage holes and invest in a waterproof plant pot or use a catcher if you prefer to place your plant in a basket.
  6. Light:  Depending on the plant, the amount of light your greenery requires is very important.  Be sure to read the instructions on the tag that comes with your plant.  A plant that requires high light, needs about five hours of bright light near a south facing window.  A plant that requires medium light only needs a few hours of bright sunlight so an east or west facing room would work while a low light plant needs minimal amounts of light so they typically do well in rooms with no windows but still receive some form of light or in a north facing room.
  7. Temperature: The ideal temperature for a house plant is between 65 and 75 degrees.  If need be, indoor plants can tolerate temperatures as low as 55 degrees but not over a prolonged period of time.

A few other tips to keep in mind:

  1. Leaves turning brown: Your plant is thirsty!  Mist it every day or water it more often.
  2. Leaves turning yellow:  If the leaves are yellow yet moist, lay off on the watering.  However, if the leaves are yellow and dry, water or mist your plant more often.
  3. Bugs:  Somtimes, tiny bugs can be a problem so I use lavender oil to eradicate them.  Simply place 5-10 drops into a spray bottle filled with water and spray on the leaves of the plant once or twice a day until the problem subsides.

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