7 Basic Rules for Successful Indoor Plants

  1. Let houseplants rest during the winter (October–February).
  2. Accept the loss of “temporary” plants.
  3. Give them extra humidity (group them together).
  4. Treat problems promptly.
  5. Learn to repot when needed
  6. Don’t drown them; water on a schedule with seasonal variation.
  7. Choose plants wisely!

General Care & Requirements

Light:

  • Shade/Low Light = Well away from windows, but enough light to read a newspaper
  • Semi-Shade/Low Light = Near a sunless window or some distance from a bright window
  • Bright, Indirect Light = On a sunless windowsill or near a bright window
  • Some Direct Light = On or close to east-or west-facing window (may need protection from hot summer sun)
  • Direct Light = On or close to south-facing window (may need protection from hot summer sun)

Water: Factors include type of plant, soil condition, light exposure, time of year, size of pot, and drainage

Temperature & Humidity: Misting, humidifiers, and pebble trays

Soils & Fertilizer: Fertilize about every 4–6 weeks (or use a less concentrated amount every time you water); most soils are peat-based; we use Gardner & Bloome and Malibu Compost brands

Repotting: Best done when plant is actively growing, rather than during dormant season

Type of Container: Ideally, your container should have drainage holes. If not, have a plan to remove excess water at the bottom of the pot and to keep the plant out of it, or use the pot-in-pot method with a plastic insert pot!

Other Tips: Rotate plant for balanced growth, remove spent blooms, and dust off foliage regularly

Troubleshooting

  • Overwatering or other cultural problems; it’s best to establish a watering schedule and adjust it seasonally
  • Insufficient or too much light (Tip: want a plant in a spot where plants don’t grow well? Buy 2 and rotate them out every 2 weeks!)
  • Grow lights? YES!
  • Insects: Common pests include aphids, mealy bugs, scale, thrips, fungus gnats, whitefly, and spider mites; neem oil and other oil-based sprays have excellent success rates on most common pests (Tip: spray target plant when inside a large plastic garbage bag, then seal bag with twist-tie and let stand overnight)
  • Diseases: Most commonly associated with overwatering

Choosing a Plant

  1. Style & Design Considerations
  2. Blooming vs. Foliage: Most flowering plants have a short bloom cycle; not constantly flowering
  3. Color, Form & Size: Green, variegated, chartreuse, etc.
  4. Growing Conditions: Light, temperature, and humidity

Plants for Low Light:

  • Zamioculcas (ZZ Plant)
  • Aglaonema (Chinese Evergreen)
  • Sansevieria (Snake Plant)
  • Spathiphyllum (Peace Lily)

Plants for Bright Light:

  • Cacti & Succulents
  • Hoya*
  • Citrus plants*
  • Most flowering plants (e.g. Kalanchoe)

Hard-to-Kill Plants: Tolerant of adapting to various light conditions and temp/humidity levels

  • Zamioculcas (ZZ Plant)
  • Aspidistra elatior (Cast Iron Plant)*
  • Sansevieria (Snake Plant)
  • Philodendron hederaceum (Heartleaf Philodendron)
  • Epipremnum aureum (Pothos)
  • Dracaena
  • Chlorophytum comosum (Spider Plant)*

More “Advanced” Plants:

  • Calathea*
  • Codiaeum variegatum (Croton)
  • Radermachera sinica (China Doll)
  • Most Ficus, especially F. benjamina and F. lyrata (Fiddleleaf Fig)

*indicates non-toxic plants

Great resource: www.houseplant411.com

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