How to Care for Houseplants

Houseplants give color to your home and (literally) freshen the air. Learn how to pick the right plants and care for them properly with these tips from Domestic CEO.

Amanda Thomas
5-minute read
Episode #141

Did you know that there is a Houseplant Appreciation Day? I’m guessing that’s one holiday that you don’t celebrate on a regular basis, but I could be wrong - maybe you do have a little party for your plants each January 10th!

But for those of us who don’t, today’s tips will help show houseplants how much you love them year round.

Pick the Perfect Plant

The first step in showing love to your plants is to make sure you bring the right ones into your home. Things to consider when you are searching for the best plants to fit your needs are:

  • How much light does the plant require? Consider how much light your home gets. If you have lots of south facing windows, your home can naturally support plants that need direct sunlight. If you are in a big city surrounded by other buildings, you may need to look for plants that require low, indirect light.
  • How much time can you commit to your plants? If you’re new to houseplants, succulents are always a safe way to start. They are the Betta fish of the plant world: they will survive almost anything. If you think you’re going to forget to water your plant, or you travel a lot, start your plant collection with a small succulent that requires significantly less attention than flowering plants.
  • Are you a budding Green Thumb? Do you love plants, have lots of time to care for them, and lots of space for them to spread out? Then you can probably handle some more hands-on plants, like vines or larger flowering plants.

If you find a plant that you really like the look of, do a quick Google search on “How to care for X plant.” The results will give you a good idea of how much time and effort you would need to care for that specific type.

Perfect Your Plant’s Lighting

Once you have your plant picked out and at home, place it where it will receive the ideal amount of light. If the care instructions say that it needs direct sunlight, place it by a south facing window so it gets as much sun as possible during the day. If it needs indirect sun, place it in a room that is bright during the day, but not directly where the sun shines.

In general, if your plant is getting too much sun, the leaves will start to look brown and scorched, or faded and washed out. If it’s not getting enough sunlight, it won’t grow very well, and new leaves will be smaller than normal. If your plant is telling you with its appearance that something just isn’t quite right, try moving it across the room or to another room. You may have to go through a little trial and error to find the perfect spot where your plant will flourish.

Correct Watering for Your Plant

In general, most plants need to have moist, but not wet roots. Some need a little more watering, and some a little less, but start by watering your plant only when the top inch of the soil feels dry. It’s always better to under water plants than over water them, so start there and see how the plants react.

Signs of overwatering plants are droopy stems and leaves, mushy or spongy-feeling stems, and bugs in your plants. If you are getting fungus gnats (which look like little fruit flies) flying around your plant, you are definitely overwatering. The gnats need moisture to reproduce, so making sure the top soil in your planter dries out will help prevent them from making a home in your pot.