How to Care for Your Houseplants

Houseplants spend their lives in pots and do quite well when you follow basic practices for their care. When your plant has a problem, it’s often traceable to something that’s out of balance with its requirements. The good news is that by checking the basics and learning to know your plant, you can usually correct the issue.  

Our top 5 care tips for your indoor plants  

1. Provide the right light

Understanding the light preferences of your houseplants is essential for their growth and well-being. You can find specific light information with a quick online search, as well as by asking our nursery staff. As a rule, all light should always be indirect since direct sun will usually burn your plant’s foliage. Place low-light houseplants in areas with minimal sunlight and high-light plants in your home’s brighter spots. If you have a plant that seems unhappy, or is just not thriving, try moving it to a different lighting location and observe the results. This may show you if light is the primary issue or not.

2. Manage temperature and humidity

Like people, plants have an optimal temperature range to stay healthy. Adjust your heating or cooling system to maintain a consistent ambient temperature for your indoor plants. Avoid sudden fluctuations of either extreme cold or extreme heat. Pay special attention to humidity levels for houseplants in your home. If you have plants that require a moist environment, mist them regularly or place a humidifier nearby. You can also place them on a pebble tray–a drainage tray or saucer with a thin layer of small pebbles that allows water to gradually evaporate around your plant. Also, be mindful of cool drafty areas near your plants, especially from doors and windows. Tropical species in particular are sensitive to the chill that can occur from drafts.

3. Water your plants carefully

Watering indoor plants is the most talked-about aspect of houseplant care, and it is the most frequent source of issues. In our experience at the nursery, nearly 90% of houseplants die from “too much love”, specifically over-watering. So try to water your plants less generously. If they really are too dry, you can check them a day or two later and water lightly. There is a happy medium with watering and with practice you will learn to monitor and evaluate your plant’s water needs like a pro. As a general guideline, thicker leaved plants tend to require less hydration while thinner leaved plants require water more often.

A simple monitoring technique is to use your finger to feel the moisture level in the top inch of soil. If it’s dry, water the plant. If it’s moist, check again in a few days. You can also use a small wooden dowel in place of your finger. The main thing is to know your plant and check its soil moisture regularly, at the very minimum on a weekly basis. Whenever you give plants a drink, be careful to water just the soil and try not splash the leaves as this can lead to disease. For this reason, some plant owners prefer to water from the bottom instead, letting the plant soak up water for a few minutes, then emptying the excess.

4. Add the right fertilizers

Plants need a steady supply of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium to stay healthy. Since your houseplant’s potting soil will become depleted at some point, this is where fertilizers come in. Depending on your type of plant and what you know about its requirements, you can choose from liquid fertilizers, slow release fertilizers, granular fertilizers, organic fertilizers, seaweed fertilizers and more. The right time to add fertilizers to your plant’s soil will usually be spring or summer when most houseplants are in their peak growth phase. During the fall and winter houseplants are generally dormant and fertilizing them is not recommended.

5. Repot your plants

With the right light, nutrients, and care, your houseplant will continue to develop at a healthy rate. As your plant grows, its roots will expand in order to provide it with the increased amount of water and nutrients necessary to fuel development, but the pot will eventually run out of space. Repotting your plant periodically will give your plant a more comfortable home as well as new soil with full nutrients. Look for signs of your plant being “pot-bound” such as roots emerging from the top of the soil, or circling around the pot’s edge, or protruding from drainage holes under the pot. Pot-bound plants will also stop producing leaves during their growth period. That’s when you’ll know it’s definitely time to repot them into larger containers.   

Visit The Evergreen Nursery for your houseplant needs 

If you're looking for help with your houseplants in San Leandro, we are here to serve you seven days a week. We have a wide range of supplies including planting mixes, fertilizers, products for disease, pest & weed control, watering supplies, cutting tools, planting containers, and more. We also carry a diverse selection of indoor plants in our houseplant boutique that will bring beauty and interest to any houseplant collection. Drop by our nursery on San Leandro Boulevard to chat with our friendly team. Contact us at (510) 632-1522 or visit our website to learn more.

Evergreen Nursery