Houseplants play a large part in many people’s lives for the myriad benefits they bring. For us, they bring an unbeatable sense of life and naturalness to our homes. Caring and nurturing for our plants provides a vital source of mental wellbeing and some time away from screens. We also love that there’s always something new to learn!
We think it’s really important for plant owners to understand how to care for plants so they become a long-lasting member of the household, and not thrown out when they are not looking their best. Here are our tried and tested top-tips for keeping houseplants healthy…
Tip 1: Right plant, right place
You may fall in love with the look of a plant, but we suggest researching the plant’s natural habitat and try to mimic it as much as possible with corresponding potting soil, light, water, nutrients and heat. Perhaps the plant is naturally a rainforest floor dweller that likes a damp, shadier spot with rich soil. If so, find a spot out of direct sunlight and keep the soil evenly moist. Or perhaps it is native to desert areas, with lots of direct sunshine, little rainfall and low nutrient soil. In this case, find the brightest spot you have and only water every month or so, and not at all in winter.
Tip 2: Get to know the light in your home
Knowing how much light your home gets is vital to knowing which plants will do well in that area. Most plants will be described as needing either direct light, indirect light or low light.
Direct light: an area in bright sunshine e.g a south facing window. will receive the longest periods of direct sunshine in a day. An east or west facing windowsill will receive a shorter period of weaker direct sun each day.
Indirect light: a bright area where there is no direct sunshine reaching the plants. E.g a couple of meters back from a south facing window or near to an east or west facing window. A south-facing window that is frosted or has a filtering blind will also give bright indirect light.
Low light: usually close to a north facing window, or further back from the window in an east or west facing room. Note, no plant can survive for long with no natural light. If you want to have plants in a room with no windows or a dark corner we would suggest using grow lights.
Tip 3: Less is more when it comes to watering
The most common cause of plant death is over-watering and it is far harder to revive an overwatered plant compared to an under-watered one. Ensure the pot your plant is planted in has drainage holes to let water drain out fully, you can sit that inside a decorative pot. We recommend taking the plant out of the decorative pot and over to the sink to water it, to ensure all water can drain away. Many houseplants varieties such as Monstera , Pothos , Ficus will only want to be watered when the top inch or so of soil is dry. We always advise putting your finger deep into the soil to test this. If the soil feels dry down to the middle of your finger, the plant can be watered. Some houseplant varieties like the soil to be evenly moist such as Calathea, Ferns, Fittonia, and Maranta; they won’t like the soil drying out. Water these before the soil feels dry, but take care not to keep the soil sodden.
Be wary of following such genral advice such as 'water once a week', there are other factors to be taken into consideration for this statement to be useful. For example, watering once a week will be far too often for a plant in a low light area where less light means less vigorous growth, meaning the plant is using up less water. We don’t recommend watering on a strict schedule, instead look to the plant for cues that it needs water e.g drooping, puckering or curling leaves, and pick up your plant, does the pot feels particuarly light? And remember to stick your finger in to feel if the soil is dry.
Tip 4: Healthy Soil makes for happy plants
Healthy soil really is key to keeping houseplants happy. Your houseplants' soil should be a good mix of components that provide drainage and air flow to the plant's roots, allowing an efficient uptake of water and nutrients and a healthy balance of microscopic bacteria, organisms and fungi. Good quality houseplant soil will be the best start you can give your plant. We recommend Soil.Ninja all their soil is peat-free and you can even buy soil for specific plant varieties.
Tip 5: Simple maintenance tasks are good for you and your plants
Simple plant care tasks are a great way to improve your mental wellbeing by stepping away from the screen and immersing yourself in caring for plants. Cleaning your plants leaves with a soft cloth is not only a lovely therapeutic task, but it is also a great way to keep leaves dust free, allowing maximum light intake for the plant. It’s also a good opportunity to check for pests and apply some preventative horticultural soap. If you do discover pests, move the plant away from others and remove pests by wiping and removing affected leaves.
If possible, don’t reach for the chemical pest control, consider biological pest treatment from Ladybird Plant Care.
Removing yellow or brown leaves is also very satisfying, don’t be alarmed by the odd yellow or brown leaf, generally the lower leaves on a plant can yellow just due to natural ageing.
In the spring and summer months, give plants an extra boost by feeding them every couple of weeks. We love Liquid Gold Leaf, you’ll be amazed by the new growth that you start to notice! For a plant lover there are not many more rewarding things than seeing new growth.