If your house plants are in various states of near-death, this article is for you.
I got the information for this article from my Mom, who used to own a plant store and loves gardening. Drawing from her years of experience dealing with plant customers and plant-owning friends, she’s given me the top five mistakes that people make with indoor plants.
1. Not picking the right plants
A big mistake is buying an outdoor plant and trying to grow it indoors. You need to buy a plant that will grow in a household environment. If you are a beginner, resist the temptation to buy blooming plants or colorful foliaged plants, because most of those will not grow well indoors.
Here are some good plants to start with (hover or click for names):
These are hardy plants that grow well indoors and are perfect for beginners!
2. Not watering enough or watering too much
This is a huge mistake that people make. Most people I know under-water. They wait until the soil is bone-dry, then pour a dixie-cup of water in it.
How often you should water depends on many factors, but as a rule, the soil should never completely dry out, but shouldn’t be soaking wet all of the time either.
About one inch deep of the topsoil should be dry to the touch between watering. Don’t let all of the soil in the pot completely dry out. Usually once or twice a week is sufficient, depending on temperature, size of pot, and location. Use enough water to completely wet the soil in the pot all the way to the bottom, not just the surface. If water has pooled in the dish at the bottom of the pot, that is enough.
3. Placing your plants “where the sun don’t shine”
Placing plants in a dark corner is a common mistake, often resulting in a dead or droopy-looking plant. You should place the plants where they can get a lot of indirect light. Even though some plants can grow in low light, they will do much better near a window or artificial light. Do your plants a favor by opening the drapes in the room and letting the sunlight in every morning.
4. Not feeding your plants
We tend to forget that plants need food if you want to see healthy growth. Feed them regularly with a good indoor plant fertilizer. The easiest way to feed plants is to use a time-release fertilizer such as “Osmocote Indoor & Outdoor Plant Food”. This is good for lazy people because it lasts three or four months!
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If you don’t mind feeding the plant every other time you water, use Schultz’s Plant Food. It is also pretty easy to use. Just add seven drops for each quart of water. (It even comes with the dropper.)
5. Using a pot that is too small
Choosing the correct pot is as important as watering. As the plant grows, you should transplant it to a pot that is one size bigger. When you see roots coming out of the bottom of the pot, that is a sign that you need to get a bigger pot.
Don’t go overboard though. If the pot is too big, it will hold too much water, and the roots might rot, resulting in the death of the plant.
Bonus Tip: How to Keep Bugs Away
Once you’ve got the right plants, in the right location, in the right pot, spray the leaves once a month with soapy water. A little dishwashing soap will do. That will keep the bugs away. This is especially needed for the Areca Palm.
Now, go out and get some plants!
Neglect is the most common reason for dying house plants. They may not need daily care like a pet, but they shouldn’t be neglected for days, especially when it’s hot. They need air, water, food, and light.
Indoor plants are beautiful to look at and can turn your sterile home or office into your own little slice of paradise. They can help you relax and are also great indoor air cleaners, removing toxins from the air. Take good care of your plants and they will bring you much pleasure! – Brian