Your Super Simple 3-Step Program for Houseplant Maintenance

You’ve kept a collection of houseplants alive. Congratulations! Now this is how you can make them thrive.

Shutterstock ID 349499291; PO: Cat Overman;

Shutterstock ID 349499291; PO: Cat Overman;

There are no one-size-fits-all answers when it comes to houseplants, and a plant tag can only tell you so much. Each species is unique, hailing from climates ranging from dry deserts to Mediterranean landscapes to tropical rainforests, and even two plants of the same species can have totally different needs depending on a number of factors. Fertilizing depends on the type of plant and the label instructions, while pruning times and methods rely on a plant’s blooming time and growth pattern.

Grow a lush and flourishing indoor garden filled with a variety of plants by following this three-step program. Start with a good reference, and inspect for problems every time you water. Finally, fill out a maintenance checklist for each plant in your collection to provide the most personalized and accurate care possible.

Find a reference

Since each plant has entirely different needs, it’s essential to find trustworthy references that will tell you everything you need to know about each specific plant.

While you can find info on any plant with a quick Internet search, you’ll find that some sites have more information on certain plants than others. If you own a collection of houseplants, I highly recommend picking up a book such as “The House Plant Expert” by D. G. Hessayon.

Inspect while you water

Even with all the knowledge in the world at your fingertips, your senses are the best tools in your arsenal. Every time you water, inspect each plant for problems such as pests, yellowed leaves or slow, lanky growth.

Shutterstock ID 224849716; PO: Cat Overman;

Shutterstock ID 224849716; PO: Cat Overman;

Refer to the list below to help you narrow down problems, or check out this info on troubleshooting houseplant problems.

A plant needs to be watered more if:

  • The top inch of potting mix is dry
  • Leaves are wilting (unless soil is moist)
  • Water runs over the soil and drains along the sides
  • The plant feels lighter than usual

A plant needs to be watered less if:

  • The soil feels more soggy than moist
  • The roots are beginning to rot
  • You see fungus gnats every time you water

A plant needs fertilizer if:

  • It has been over a few months since purchasing the plant
  • The time-release fertilizer pellets or fertilizer spikes are spent
  • The palm fronds are yellowed
  • The plant is growing at a glacial pace
  • It’s been over a year since you fertilized
  • You can’t remember the last time you fertilized

A plant needs to be repotted if:

  • The existing potting mix drains too quickly or slowly
  • The plant’s roots coil tightly together in the pot, forming a solid mass
  • The potting mix is practically older than dirt

A plant is getting too much sun if:

  • The exposed leaves are getting scorched and bronzy
  • It’s a shade-loving plant but is receiving direct rays of sunlight

A plant isn’t getting enough sun if:

  • Its new growth is spindly and stretched out
  • The plant actually appears to reach for more light
  • The leaves are very dark green
  • It’s in a room without a window, such as a bathroom

Create a care sheet for each plant

You can solve a lot of problems with a good reference and eye for detail, but it can be difficult to keep track of an entire collection of plants around the house. For example, two rubber trees (Ficus elastica) in the same house require different care depending on a number of factors: the brightness of the room, your home’s heating system, the type of potting soil, the overall health of the plants and even the type of fertilizer being used.

Instead, create care sheets for each plant. (We have one you can download and use.) Print one sheet for every houseplant in your collection, or keep notes on your computer, tablet or phone if that’s more convenient for you.

Fill in the basic needs and take notes whenever you feed, repot, move and prune plants, so that it will be easier to diagnose problems that arise. Place the worksheets in a folder and use them to pencil in dates on the calendar to remind you when it’s time to fertilize or prune.

Posted by Steve Asbell on Zillow

Combining Houseplants for Decorative Arrangements

When it comes to potted plants, “the more the merrier” makes a great rule of (green) thumb.

If you aren’t already making your own container combinations with houseplants, you’re really missing out. They bring a bit of the outdoors to even the smallest spaces,  and are a lot easier to water than plants grown on their own.
Here are nine reasons you should be combining your houseplants, and how to do it in nine easy steps.

9 reasons to combine houseplants

1. Less watering. Watering an assortment of potted plants can be a pain. With a combo, however, you just water once.

2. Living flower arrangements. Flower arrangements are great, but there’s just something so captivating about a living ecosystem in your home. In addition, living arrangements are more economical than cut flowers over time, because they last a lot longer.

3. Fits your decor. Going for a traditional look? Use cast iron plant, parlor palm, and ferns in an urn or terra-cotta pot. More modern? Plant snake plant, Haworthia and Gasteria in a sleek container. Primitive tropical? Fill a rattan basket with an exuberant pot of rainforest plants.

4. Stays alive. Even if a plant or two dies, the others will quickly fill in the gap. If you’re impatient, all you have to do is tuck another one in its place.

5. It’s therapeutic. Successfully cultivating life just feels good. You’d be amazed by how relaxing and rewarding an occasional trim or topdressing of soil can be.

6. It’s a garden, indoors. A well-planted arrangement truly feels like a little piece of garden in the middle of your home — minus the creepy-crawlies and hard work.

7. Ideal for small spaces. Everyone has room for an indoor garden. These arrangements can range from just a few inches wide to taking up as much space as a dining chair. No matter the size, the impact is huge.

8. A creative outlet. If you get your kicks from cooking, crafting, drawing or writing, then just look at an indoor arrangement as an extension of your craft. It’s a recipe of plants; a craft that hot-glues itself in place; a masterpiece in four dimensions; an adventure in your mind’s eye.

9. Year-round gardening. Throughout most of the country, winter puts the garden on hold for a few months. In the Deep South and Southwest, summer keeps you in the air-conditioned comfort of your home. Your indoor garden will keep you company until nicer weather.

How to combine houseplants

Now that you’re ready to plant your own indoor living arrangement of plants, here’s how you do it. Note that it’s almost exactly like planting an outdoor container combo.

  1. Gather materials. Choose a pot with a drainage hole and potting mix. The drainage hole is important because it keeps the water from stagnating and rotting the plants’ roots.
  2. Pick your plants. Select a few plants that tolerate the same conditions. For example, don’t put a sun-loving cactus in a pot with a shade- and moisture-loving fern.
  3. Add potting mix. Fill the pot almost all the way, leaving enough room for the plants.
  4. Add plants. Slip the plants out of their pots and place in the big pot.
  5. Arrange plants. Situate plants so that the tall ones are in the rear. This ensures that each plant gets light. Put trailing plants like pothos along the edge so they can cascade over the rim.
  6. Add more potting mix. Add enough potting mix to sit level with the tops of the plants’ root balls (the pot-shaped mass of dirt and roots).
  7. Water. Water thoroughly to level out the potting mix and eliminate any air gaps. Where the potting mix has sunk, add more.
  8. Fertilize. Feed the plants according to your product’s label instructions. Authentic Haven Compost Tea is a good choice, since it’s organic and effective, and the nutrients stay in the potting mix.
  9. Properly place. Place your container combo where it gets bright indirect light, meaning that it’s bright enough to read comfortably without flipping a light switch. Some plants, such as cacti, succulents and some plants grown for flowers, prefer direct light. This means that your plants get a clear view of the sun for at least a few hours a day.

If you’d like to know more about combining houseplants, check out my book Plant by Numbers. It offers comprehensive plant listings to help you choose and combine your own designs, 50 sample combos, and everything you need to know about keeping your houseplants happy and healthy.

Posted by Steve Asbell on Zillow

Easy to Care for Houseplants

Houseplants are a great and healthy way to add décor to your home. Houseplants take in the carbon monoxide expelled by humans and convert it to oxygen, which can benefit your home and your family. Houseplants also give a natural element to your home (kind of like bringing the forest or the jungle inside).

Easy to Care for HouseplantsTaking care of houseplants depends on the type of plants in your home. We have identified some great, easy to care for plants that could make great additions to your home. These plants might actually tell you exactly what they need once you start listening to them.  From wilted leaves  or drooping leaves, to yellowing or brown areas, these top plants will tell you if they need more water or sun or less water and less sun.

Peace Lillies are easy plants to care for as their leaves will droop when they need more water, and their leaves will brown or burn when they’ve had too much direct sun. Philodendrons , Pothus, Ivy, and Spider Plants are also super easy, but will require occasional trimming as they can grow and grow. Mother in Law’s Tongue or Snake Plant grow straight up, which make them a great plant to bring an element of a vertical accent piece. Chinese Evergreen are also great decorating pieces because they grow up and full and can be trimmed to suit your space. Cacti are probably the easiest plants to care for because they require almost no water, making this a great plant for the business traveler.

Many of these plants need regular watering, so create a weekly routine to review how they talk to you. Drooping or brown leaves need more water, while yellow leaves maybe need a little less water. Pruning these plants is helpful in keeping the leaves full and the size of the plant under control. Refreshing the soil is something you can do about every 6 – 12 months and possibly an occasional repotting of the plants due to growth. It is also important to watch your light. Some plants need more light than others, while too much light can actually burn the leaves of the plants like we see with Peace Lilly.

Originally published on HomeZada.