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Plant Care

Basic House Plant Care Tips

There are eight major areas of concern when it comes to caring for and maintaining house plants: moisture, light, soil, temperature, humidity, fertilizers, potting, and pest control. Since different types of house plants will inevitably have different needs, be sure to read the package for directions on proper care for your specific plant or do some research on your own to find out more. Below are some basic guidelines for general house plant care.


The two main causes of house plant deaths are drought and drowning. Be careful not to over-water or under-water your houseplants. Check the moisture of the soil frequently by placing your hand on the soil and feeling just below the surface. Although many house plants require watering about once a week, it is not recommended to set a tight schedule. Plants should be watered as needed. When watering, be sure that the soil is saturated. A good way to tell is when water begins draining out of the bottom of the container.


Remember that most house plants depend on sunlight for photosynthesis. The two major factors that you want to be aware of with exposure are intensity and duration. These factors will differ for each plant. Direct sunlight is ideal for most plants, although this is hard to procure indoors. Most house plants are simply placed in windows to receive to sunlight. This may not be adequate, however. Artificial light, such as fluorescent lighting, can make a great supplement to natural light, particularly in areas where sunlight is scarce.


Most house plants require either potting soil or potting compost. As opposed to natural soil, potting compost contains soil conditioners packed with nutrients, the proper aeration, and good drainage. The mixtures are typically a combination of peat, perlite, and vermiculite. Natural soils typically do not drain well.


Most house plants are labeled as such because they are native to climates that most resemble the temperature and conditions inside homes, or room temperature. Most house plants thrive in temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees during the day and somewhat cooler at nighttime.


Plants typically need a high relative humidity to thrive, usually around 80 percent. This presents a problem since most households have a relative humidity around 20 to 50 percent. Investing in a home humidifier is always an option but there are also several other things one can do to increase the humidity around your house plants. One of the most popular methods is a pebble tray filled with water which will evaporate over time and add humidity to the air.


Many soil nutrients can be lost or depleted in the potted environment. The addition of fertilizer is a good way to replenish these lost nutrients. However, fertilizers can be harmful to some plants, so be sure to check your labels. A basic principle to follow is one tablespoon of fertilizer for every gallon of water. The mixture is then used in the watering of the plant. Remember that it is always better to under-fertilize than to over-fertilize.

Pots and containers

Determining what size pot to use is an important factor in the growing of your house plant. You don't want your pot to be too large or too small. A pot that is too small will restrict the growth of the plant, while an overly large pot can cause your plant to get root disease because of too much moisture present in the soil. Perhaps the most important feature in pots and containers is their drainage system. Pots can be reused for different plants, but remember to wash them thoroughly to kill any bacteria or disease that might be left over from previous plants.

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