7 things you need to know to keep indoor plants alive
Houseplants are a great way to liven up any living space. Studies show they can purify the air as well, making them helpful inhabitants of your home. But what if you’re not much of a green thumb? If you’re new to taking care of plants, the good news is that it doesn’t take a degree in botany to get them to thrive in your environment. There are seven main things to keep in mind when taking care of indoor plants, and we’ve compiled them below.
- Understand your plant’s needs. Every houseplant comes with its own set of instructions. These can be found on the little tab in the soil in the pot you bought it in. Read this, as well as any other advice you might find on the internet about your plant, before doing anything else (even actually buying it). If you feel you can take care of the plant the way it needs to be, should you bring it home.
- Know when and how to water. Every plant is unique, which means each one has its own set of watering guidelines. Start by following the instructions on the tab, then adjust according to your plant’s appearance. It helps to know the signs of under- and overwatering. If you’ve under-watered, the soil will appear dry and crumbly. If you’ve watered too much, the soil will still be wet, even after a few days. Strike a balance to make sure your plant is getting just the right amount.
- Be careful about location. Some plants need more sunlight than others. It’s a balancing act — too much sun can burn it, while too little can make it look wilted. Pay attention to how much sun it gets every day, and adjust as needed. As always, the instructions are a good baseline to start with.
- Keep an eye on appearance. Besides checking the soil, it is important to make sure your plant looks healthy. If the leaves begin to look dry, it may be time to move the plant out of any direct sunlight. If the plant isn’t growing, or looks like it’s trying to grow towards where the sun shines, you need to move it into the sun. Any brown or yellow spots are a concern and may require that you increase the humidity of their environment.
- Repot when necessary. You can repot at any time during a plant’s cycle, but there are four signs that your plant truly needs it. When new leaves grow slowly and are smaller than older leaves, when the soil dries out more quickly than it used to, or when the roots are either overgrown or tightly wound, you know it is time. Move your plant to a new pot just before the plant’s growth period to ensure its health.
- Watch out for temperature changes. Keep your plants in a space with a moderate, consistent temperature. That, in part, means keeping them away from any heating vents or air conditioners.
- Feed them the good stuff. Remember that plants need food, too. Fertilize your plants when repotting, or when they seem to stop growing. Always remember to give them just enough, because too much fertilization can harm growth.
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