Success with popular indoor plants.
Add a little green relief to your indoors with the help of green plants. You'll find beautiful specimens for those sunny windows, bright spots and low light areas in your home. Select the best plant for the available light, follow the care directions on the plant tag and these tips for low maintenance indoor gardening success.
Evaluate the Natural Light
Consider the size of the windows and the direction they face. Large windows allow the most light into the home so plants can be set several feet back into the room. Keep in mind trees, awnings and sheers decrease the light our indoor plants receive no matter what direction the window faces. And Turn plants regularly so all sides have equal exposure to the light, encouraging growth.
Low Light Locations
Where: North-facing windows and areas away from windows receiving enough light for comfortable reading.
A Few Plants to Consider: Philodendron, pothos, Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema), Snake plant, ZZ plant, peace lily and ferns.
Watering: Most plants growing in low light conditions need to be watered less often than those growing in warmer more brightly lit spots. Check the tag and water thoroughly as directed.
Fertilization: Plants in low light conditions grow slowly and need less fertilizer. Use a dilute solution of plant fertilizer as needed, this is usually less than every few months, between March and November when trying to promote more rapid growth.
Tips: Increase light reaching your plants by supplementing with artificial light. Check out more efficient bulbs in newer styles that clip onto pots or can be mounted on the wall making them attractive and easier to use. Or, rotate plants between low and bright light conditions every few weeks to expand your plant palette.
Bright Indirect Light Locations
Where: Brightly lit areas away from windows, next to east- and west-facing windows
A Few Plants to Consider: Fiddle-leaf fig, palms, dracaena, weeping fig, ivy, prayer plant
Watering: Check tags as some prefer moist soil while others like to go a bit drier between watering. Always water thoroughly as directed.
Fertilization: Fertilize as directed on label and no more than once a month from March through November when the plants are actively growing.
Tips: Some of the plants in this group can be pushed into lower light while others also thrive in high light conditions.
Where: Areas where plants receive 4 hours or more of direct light such as south-facing windows year round, east- or west-facing windows especially spring through fall.
A Few Plants to Consider: Aralia, schefflera, croton, Norfolk Island pine, jade, hen-and-chicks, other succulents and cacti.
Watering: Water thoroughly. Allow soil to dry before watering cacti and succulents. Check tags and follow directions for the other high light plants.
Fertilization: Varies with plants you are growing. Fertilize cacti and succulents once or twice a year and the others no more than monthly between March and November.
Tips: Avoid drafts of hot and cold air. Move plants away from drafty windows in winter. And never trap houseplants between the curtain and window. The temperature can be significantly colder resulting in injury and even death of some plants. Place plants on a table near a window or windowsill extension, leaving room to close the curtains or blinds at night.
Water for Health and Longevity
Adjust your watering schedule to fit the conditions of your home. The short gray days of winter mean indoor plants are growing much slower. Growth picks up in spring and summer as the days grow longer and brighter. The indoor humidity and temperatures further impact the growth rate and moisture needs of plants.
Water thoroughly and as needed for the plants you are growing. Most tropical plants should be watered thoroughly whenever the top few inches of the potting mix is slightly damp. Cacti and succulents like it a birt drier. Use your finger to check the soil moisture before watering.
Most houseplants are grown in an organic soilless mix. Once these mixes dry out, they're hard to re-wet. You may have noticed the water running over the surface and down the side of the pot.
Increase the Humidity
Place tropical plants on a gravel tray to increase humidity, avoid root rot and decrease your workload. Place pebbles in a saucer or other shallow container. Set the plants on top of the pebbles above any water that collects in the pebbles. As the water evaporates, it increases humidity around the plant.
Group your plants together for easier maintenance and increased humidity. As one plant transpires (loses moisture from its leaves) its neighbors will benefit from the increase in humidity.
Keep them Clean
Cleaning dust from the leaves of houseplants not only makes them look good, it allows more light to reach the leaves and that means healthier plants.
Use a damp sponge or cloth to wipe dust off smooth leaves. Use a cosmetic or other soft brush to remove dust from fuzzy-leaved plants like African violets. Or use a blow dryer set on cool and the very lowest power setting.
Written by gardening expert, Melinda Myers. Melinda Myers is a nationally recognized gardening expert with more than 30 years of horticulture experience. She is a wealth of knowledge and we are pleased to share Melinda’s Gardening How-To with you!