House Plant 101: Advice on How to Care for Your Houseplants

So you’ve taken the plunge and gone full crazy plant parent and now have a micro-army growing in your house. I started with a reasonable amount of plants too, and my addiction came into such full force that I found myself learning on the job. But over 50 plants later, I like to think that I now have some knowledge to share on how to be a successful plant grower in just a few easy steps.

Overwatering vs Underwatering

Overwatering is one of the plants’ biggest killers, especially in winter when your plant isn’t growing and is rather dormant. If you are super paranoid, you can purchase a water meter, which will check the dampness of the soil, to ensure that you are only watering when the soil is dry. Otherwise you can feel with your fingers around two inches of the soil.

Overwatering causes problems like root rot, and its hard to recover your plant from this. Similarly you can have problems with gnats, fungus or worse. So use water sparingly, especially in the colder months where your plant doesn’t need more energy.


In spring/summer, if you really want to see your plant flourish, give it some miracle grow or a high-quality fertilizer. Bottom watering works best for this, to avoid soil fungus, but you can watch your plants grow literally before your eyes and works fantastically. I honestly didn’t realise how much plants love fertilizer for the longest time and was sat wondering why my plants never grew but pumping them with a good fertilizer made them grow at double the speed and I had lots of new leaves in no time.

Clean the leaves and humidity

This one is a good tip for those again who want to see growth. Cleaning leaves and making sure they are nice and shiny really does wonders for your plant. I recommend neem oil, or a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and water, a spray bottle and a very gentle wipe with a cloth to clean away any pests, or dust to keep your plants nice and healthy.

Lots of plants love humidity, as they naturally grow in dense rainforests filled with humidity. So I recommend a good spray once a day to mimic their natural environment. Don’t worry if you forget, or don’t have the time, alternatively you can purchase a mister to keep on plants that enjoy that bit more of a humid environment. But a spray bottle with a mist setting works just as well. Again I fill mine with hydrogen peroxide and water mixed to get rid of any fungus sitting on the soil.

Death is natural

Don’t worry too much that plants die, it happens. We aren’t perfect in anyway, and sometimes plants just aren’t meant to be. I’ve killed a few now, (Pileas seem to be my weakness,) and I don’t regret buying them, even though they did die. Its about learning and understanding what your plant wants and thrives under. Some are needy, and rely on constantly having damp soil, some are less and need it to be completely dry before they can be watered. It doesn’t matter that they die on us, some plants just aren’t meant for you and that’s ok, and others will flourish in your careful hands, its ok and you haven’t failed as a plant parent because some of your plant babies are dead.

Published by Heather Dalgleish

21-year-old journalism student. Author and illustrator for In Full Bloom Magazine

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: