Melinda's How-To: Bringing Plants Indoors

Melinda's Gardening How-To: Bringing plants indoors

Brighten your home's décor and improve the air quality with indoor plants. Keeping them growing and healthy is easier than you think. In case you missed Melinda's seminar on "Popular Houseplants", here are a few tips that will help with their care.


Create the Right Environment


            -Low light – light is bright enough to read newsprint all day long-- a couple feet from north facing window or 6 feet from south facing window

            -Bright Indirect light – plants to the side or just past point where sun rays come through--light received on a somewhat cloudy day

            -Bright Light – East or West facing window in summer and south facing in the winter-- (seldom have too much sun for most medium to high light plants in our area)

            -Artificial Lights – keep 6 to 12 inches above the plant, reflective surface below +/or-- light sticks to help light reach all parts of large plants. On for 14 or 16, off for 8 to 10 hours.



            -Moist – water thoroughly whenever the top few inches of soil are slightly moist.

            -Moist well-drained – water thoroughly when the top few inches of soil are starting to dry.

            -Dry – allow soil to dry, but not so much that soilless potting mixes are hard to rewet.

            -Do NOT allow plants to sit in excess water – pour it off or use gravel tray.

            -Rewetting overly dry soil – Set plant in container filled with several inches of water.

            -Leave it there until it absorbs water and moistens potting mix from bottom to the top. Adjust watering to avoid this problem.



            -Let your plants be the guide.

            -Fertilize to promote more rapid growth.

            -Fertilize plants with small off color leaves not caused by insects or disease.

            -Limit fertilization to March through November unless plants are actively growing under artificial lights or in a greenhouse.

            -Use a dilute solution. You can always add more. ... as directed or less often.



            -Group Plants Together –as one transpires (loses moisture from leaves), surrounding plants benefit from the added humidity.

            -Gravel Tray – place pebbles in saucer.  Keep water in the saucer with pebbles, elevating the pot above the water. Also reduces your workload. No need to pour off excess water. Allow it to collect in pebbles to increase humidity.


            -Time to repot when new growth is stunted; water runs out bottom of pot (not due to overly dry potting mix) or pots fill and circle container.

            -Move to one pot size larger – moving into a much larger pot can lead to root rot. It takes roots time to fill the excess soil. Soil stays wet too long and roots can rot.

            -Always use containers with drainage holes or double pot for drainage.


Plants that Tolerate Low Light:                                                        

Most do even better in Bright Indirect Light                                 

Chinese Evergreen                                                                            

Parlor Palm                                                                                     

Philodendron –do not overwater                                                        

Pothos – do not overwater                                                                


Peace Lily – moist soil a must                                                            

ZZ Plant (Zamioculcas zamifilia)                                                         


Plants for Bright Indirect Light                                                                                                 

Asparagus fern                                                                                                    


Dracaenas (some tolerate low light)


Grape Ivy


Spider Plants



Ti Plant



Bright Light

African Violets – (avoid direct afternoon sunlight)

Indoor Bigleaf Hydrangea – (avoid direct afternoon sunlight)

Cacti and Succulents – high light,  dry soil

Croton – for best color


Ponytail palm

Norfolk Island Palm


Myrtle topiaries

Weeping Fig

English Ivy

Baby tears



Senecio 'Kilimanjaro' succulent


Growing Orchids - For more Information:

Light – most need bright light

Water – in genera,l water thoroughly once a week

Don’t overdo the fertilizer – use a dilute solution, best applied after watering media

Repot to freshen mix – only go to bigger pot when roots outgrow container

Reblooming – leave flower spike in place (not real successful and smaller blooms)

     -Cut flower spike back above 2nd or 3rd node from bottom on Phalaenopsis –somewhat successful)

     -Cut flower spike about ½” above base of plant             


Bringing Tropicals Indoors

- Grow like houseplants in sunny window or under artificial lights

- Semi-dormant – cool bright location and water enough to keep alive

- Dormant – store cool dark location