Caring for houseplants for novice green thumbs

plant at window

Houseplants are a great way to freshen up the look of your decor, and in some cases, can actually help to purify the air of your home. Growing them can make for a fun hobby, one you can keep for a lifetime. However, there’s a bit of a learning curve to tending to your indoor garden. If you’ve found it hard to keep your houseplants alive, take a look at the helpful guide below!

Choose the right plants. If you don’t start with a healthy plant, it can be hard to nurture it effectively. Beginners in the houseplant game should opt for plants that are stronger, as they have a better chance of surviving if you forget to water them, or leave them in the wrong amount of light or heat. Some plants that are easy to grow indoors include spider plants, rubber plants, philodendron, peace lilies, and dracaena.

Placement is key. Most houseplants require a decent amount of sunlight. What constitutes as enough varies from species to species. As a general rule, place your plant next to the window of your home that receives plenty of direct sunlight for at least part of the day. Follow the instructions that come with your plant, and adjust its position accordingly. High- or direct-light plants work best in very sunny windows that face south or southwest. Medium-light plants like eastern windows best. Low-light ones will do just fine in darker rooms.

Keep plants at the right temperature. Generally speaking, houseplants fall in the tropical category, so you’ll want to make sure you have the indoor temperature to match. That means keeping it between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit during the day, and ten degrees cooler at night. Avoid letting the temperature go below 55 degrees F, and prevent any drastic changes from happening.

Use the right soil. To continue to grow, plants need nutrition, and the best way to get that is through a quality soil mix. Opt for the potting mix that’s specifically designed for houseplants, as this will ensure that your plant is getting the nutrients it needs. If you know your plant has specific needs (either due to research or via the instruction tab it comes with), you may be able to find plant-specific soil at your local gardening store.

Feed when necessary. All plants go through dormant and active phases throughout their life cycle. As they do this, the soil can become depleted of those necessary nutrients. Replenish them by fertilizing your plant during their growing season. Don’t use too much because it can cause damage to the plant’s roots. Research what the recommended amount is for your plant, and you should be able to keep your plant growing strong.

Water just enough. Each plant has a different threshold for how much water they require. The best way to test if your plant needs more water is to do a weekly check. Stick your finger at least half an inch into the soil. If it feels dry, water it carefully, until a small amount begins to run into the drainage tray of the pot. If the soil is moist, refrain from adding more water. Don’t let plants sit in standing water for too long. Also, increase the amount of time between waterings in the winter.


Beginner’s Guide to Caring for Houseplants [Today’s Homeowner]

Care for Houseplants [Lowe’s]