House Plant Care

House Plant Care: The best tips for watering house plants, house plant problems, and getting the greatest out of your indoor garden.

In the first place, you have to remember that, at best, it is hard to get conditions in the home suitable for the healthy growth of plants. However, with house plant care, every effort should be made to prepare a place for them in which conditions are as nearly ideal as possible:

  • Plenty of light
  • Evenly regulated temperature
  • Moisture in the air (Humidity)

House Plant Care and Temperature

Regardening temperature and house plant care, it should be 50° F to 55°F at night and 65°F to 75°F during the day. An occasional night temperature of 45°F or even 40°F won't do great harm...but if reached often it will stunt the growth of the plants.

In the best circumstance, air should be given via a window every day when the temperature of the room won't get too cold or hot. Avoid direct drafts, as sudden chills are apt to produce bad results. Even on very cold days, fresh air may be let in indirectly, through a window open in an adjoining room or through a hall. It's better, when possible, to give a little ventilation during an hour or two, rather than to rush too sudden a lowering of the temperature by trying to do it all in fifteen minutes.

Watering House Plants

The amount of water which should be given will depend both upon the plant and upon the season. For house plant care during the dull days of winter and during the "resting season" of all plants, very little water will be required. You should give it on bright mornings. During early fall and late spring, when the pots or boxes dry out very quickly, water in the evening. In either case, however, withhold water until the soil is beginning to get on the "dry side" and then water thoroughly. Water should be given until it runs down through the potting soil, into the saucers.

Sometimes it will be beneficial to moisten the foliage of plants without wetting the soil. Just after repotting and in fighting plant lice, red spider , and other insects, this treatment will be beneficial. A spray bottle where water comes out with a great deal of force is a great tool to have.

House Plant Care Tip

Plants growing in windows, where the light strikes them only, or at least mostly, from one side, should be frequently turned to prevent their growing one-sided.

Cleaning & Pruning Plants

House plant care includes cleaning.

Also, don't hesitate to use a knife, scissors, or fingers in keeping the house plant shapely. One of the greatest mistakes that amateurs make is in being afraid to cut an ungainly or half leafless branch. You might think you'll bring injury to a plant, but pruning frequently is an actual benefit.

If neglected, dust will quickly gather on the leaves and clog their pores, and as the plants have no way of breathing but through their leaves, the result can be poor. Spraying as mentioned before, will be of help. They should also be wiped clean with a soft dry cloth, especially such plants as palms, rubbers, and Rex begonias. Do not use olive oil or any other sticky substance on the cloth. Always remove at once any broken, dead or diseased leaves or flowers.

Placing the plant in a shower to rid the dust is also an effective way of cleaning.

House Plant Care Tip

For blooming purposes, don't let flowering plants go to seed: nothing else will so quickly bring the blooming period to a close.

Rest Period

Don't try to force your plants into continuous growth. Almost without exception, they demand a period of rest. If you don't allow them to take it when "nature" suggests, they will take it themselves when you don't want them to. The natural rest period is during the winter. During this time, very little water will be enough and no repotting or fertilizing should be done.

It is, however, desirable in some cases, as with many of the flowering plants, to change the season bloom, as we might want their flowering during the winter. In such cases they should be made to rest during the summer, by withholding water and keeping them disbudded.

Repotting House Plants

House plant care can also include repotting.

Many beginners get the idea that as soon as any plant has filled its pot with roots it must be immediately transplanted to a larger container. While this is mostly true with small plants, it is not at all true of mature plants, especially those that we want to bloom in the house.

When a shift has been given, at the beginning of the growing period, no further change should be necessary during the winter. It will, however, be good to furnish food in the form of liquid fertilizer when the soil in the pot has become filled with roots. It should be applied approximately once a week for a plant showing ordinary growth.

At the beginning of the growing period and at frequent intervals during the early growth of plants they must be repotted.

House Plant Care Tip

Plants such as geraniums and heliotrope, which are wanted for blooming in early winter, should be kept rather dry and all buds pinched off. Do not shift them to new pots until two or three weeks before time to take them in.

Hardening Off-Plunging

As soon as danger of late frost is over in the spring, if you want, you can take the plants out of the house. It is safest to "harden them off" first by leaving them a few nights with the windows wide open or by leaving them outside for a few hours in a sheltered place on a deck, porch, etc. The next day, the amount of hours they're outdoors can be increased. Those which require partial shade could be kept under a roofed porch, under a tree, etc. Most of them, once they have accustomed themselves to the outside, can then be left outside until the cold weather returns.


If wanted for use in the house a second season, be sure to keep them in their pots. A great way to handle this is to dig out a bed six or eight inches deep and fill it with coarse sand.

In this hole, "plunge," that is, bury the pots up to their rims. Without plunging them, it will be next to impossible to keep them sufficiently watered unless they are protected from the direct rays of the sun by overhead protection.

Care must be taken not to let plants in "plunged" pots root through into the soil. This is prevented by lifting and partly turning the pots every week or so. They won't root through into the coarse sand as rapidly as into soil and better drainage is achieved. Watch the soil in the pots, not the surrounding soil, when deciding about watering. For most plants a thorough watering, tops and all, once every afternoon would be good.

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