For years I killed every plant I touched and I had no idea how to care for houseplants even though I really wanted them. Thankfully I’ve been able to pass that hurdle as I’ve learned more and more and turned my black thumb into a green thumb. If you have that problem, you’re not a lost cause! With a little practice you can totally turn things around. Now having plants has turned into my little hobby that gives me something to tend to and keeps my family healthy and happy.
When starting out I had no idea what I was doing, and I want better for you! This is a collection of tips that will help even the most horticulturally challenged. I feel like some resources just assume you know a lot of these things, but not everyone does, I certainly didn’t! I also highly recommend you check out the book How Not to Kill Your Houseplant. It is an amazing resource for people just like us! She outlines exactly how to care for over 50 specific houseplants. They all require different attention and this book gets down to basics for each individual plant and offers tips for when they’re not doing so well too.
I also want to give some credit to GardenWorks, they’ve been holding my hand along the way teaching me new things every time I’ve visited. I’ve been a loyal shopper for a long time and am so happy they’ve agreed to work with me for this plant series. It really does make a difference where you get your plants from and GardenWorks hits the nail on the head when it comes to quality healthy plants, and knowledgeable staff that can teach you how to care for them.
Full disclosure, I have received compensation for working with GardenWorks. As with everything I post, all thoughts and opinions are completely my own. I never talk about anything that I don’t personally use and believe in. For more information you can view my disclosure page.
How to Care For Houseplants
Use the Correct Soil
There are different kinds of soil for different kinds of plants and whether they’re indoor or outdoor. Cacti need well draining soil and ferns like soil that hold a lot of moisture. Make sure you’re using the appropriate potting soil so they have the right drainage for their needs.
Make Sure They Have Drainage
This is so important and something I didn’t learn for a long time. Make sure your plant has drainage! You can still use your decorative pots without drainage, just keep your houseplant in their nursery container, or small container and place that within your decorative pot. Having correct drainage ensures your plant is getting the water it needs, prevents root rot and allows excess salt from fertilizers to flush out.
Learn How to Water
It is always better to underwater than overwater because it’s way easier to correct a dried out plant than one with root rot. Some plants require that the top 1/2 inch – 2 niches dry out between waterings. That’s fairly straight forward, but for plants that like to be evenly moist, you need to know the difference between wet and moist. If you squeeze wet soil it will drip out water, where moist soil will just feel damp. When watering you want to make sure you are thoroughly watering your plant until water starts to come out of the drainage holes and make sure to discard all the drained water.
Plants love humidity, but not everyone is able to place a humidifier by their plants,. There are still 2 simple tricks that go a long way. Keep your plants happy by spritzing them 3 x a week. Since I followed GardenWorks advice and started spritzing on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, I’ve noticed a big difference in the health and growth of my plants. You can also put pebbles in their drainage trays for the plants to sit on top of. Keep the pebbles wet, just make sure the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the pot and seep into the soil through the drainage holes.
Plants need food and when they’re fed consistently they grow stronger, bigger, and more colourful. Follow advice from your nursery about your specific plant and fertilize on a regular basis from Spring to Fall. GardenWorks recommended I use Shultz Liquid Plant Food and my plants love it, and I love how convenient it is to use.
Rotate for Even Lighting
Rotate your houseplants so they get even sun exposure and grow full all around, rather than one sided. You can also rotate your hanging plants and small plants around your home so they receive adequate light even if you have some in not so bright areas.
Take Notes For Your Plants
This is such a good trick! Keep a note on your phone for the care tips for each of your plants. The main thing you want to note is how dry or wet it likes it’s soil, because as your plant family expands it can be hard to remember how all of them like to live. It can also be helpful to record when you last fertilized your houseplant as they may not all be on the same watering schedule.
Don’t be afraid to prune! Removing dead leaves allows your plant to disperse nutrients where they’re needed most. You can also prune plants like pothos and spider plants and propagate them to create new plant babies!
Plants like to be dusted every once in a while. Some are more finicky than others, but it’s good to let their leaves breathe and wipe them with a cloth when you notice dust build up.
I hope you find these tips helpful. If you think I’ve missed anything, please share in the comments below so we can all help each other out, and make sure to connect on social media @JannineMacKinnon for regular plant tips and all things motherhood.