It’s no secret that houseplants are beneficial to our health, improving our environment and helping to relax, focus and lift our mood. There are plenty of different houseplants you can choose for your home, from dark leafy ferns to orchids and gardenias. Although different species will require specific care and attention, there are a few general rules to help you keep your houseplants happy and alive.
The biggest rule that covers nearly all houseplants is - do not overwater them. Even plants that thrive in the wet and humid tropics need to have dry soil for a while, even if it’s a day. Overwatering clogs the soil, preventing oxygen from getting to the roots and causing them to rot and die. Generally speaking, allow the top inch of soil to become dry between watering. Plants will need more watering in the spring and summer, which is when they grow the most. They can be watered less when they lie dormant during the winter. Tap water is fine for houseplants, as is collected rainwater. If the leaves begin wilting, this is a sign of overwatering!
Most houseplants won’t require feeding, and will do just fine with good soil and enough watering. However, if you want to encourage more flower and foliage growth, then your plant certainly wouldn’t say no to a little fertiliser. There are 3 main types of fertiliser you can buy for your houseplant:
Nitrogen (N) → improves the leaves and foliage
Phosphorus (P) → important for healthy root growth
Potassium (K) → great for encouraging flower growth
Some flowering plants, such as gardenias, have specific feeding needs which should be adhered to. Otherwise, feed your plant once a month, using a diluted liquid or slow release tablets. Feed is used to encourage growth, rather than force it.
Many plants thrive in humid conditions, and with a few exceptions, most houseplants prefer a humid environment. Dry air sucks moisture from the leaves, so they dry out much quicker. Kitchens and bathrooms are generally the most humid rooms in the house, whereas central heating during the winter can reduce the humidity of a room in Britain to that of the Sahara desert! The easiest way to stop your plant drying out is to mist the leaves with a simple hand held water pump. This will also help deter pests such as red spider mite. You can also clump plants together, which increases the relative humidity around them.
Some extra things to help keep your houseplants happy includes deadheading and pruning. Removing dead flowers and leaves gives your plant the energy to produce new foliage and flowers. Removing dust buildup is also important, as too much can clog the leaves and damage them. Also, don’t forget to re-pot your plant every couple of years as it grows. Simply move it into a larger pot with some soil where it can thrive - and if you’re needing to repot your plant, you’re obviously doing something right!