Indoor Plant Care 101

Indoor Plant Care 101
  • Did you know that office and home environments are ideal for tropical plants?
  • You can keep your indoor plants healthy for years by providing them with enough light, water, and fertilizer.
  • Keep reading to learn the best practices for indoor plant care. 

indoor house plant

The most popular indoor plants belong to tropical species and are accustomed to living on jungle floors. This makes indoor spaces like homes and offices ideal for houseplants!

Tropical indoor plants typically do well when given the following: 

  • indirect bright light
  • mild temperatures
  • enough water to survive
  • occasional fertilizer 

And that’s pretty much all you need to keep your houseplants healthy. Want the breakdown? Read on for the 101 on indoor plant care.

How Often Should I Water My Indoor Plants?

The easiest way to kill an indoor plant is to overwater it. Underwatering your plant can cause problems, too, but it’s much easier for a plant to recover from drought than drowning. 

Watering indoor plants is a bit of a dance between intuition and science. All plants need water to survive, but the amount of water depends on each unique plant and its environment. For example, the Jade Plant, a drought-tolerant succulent, needs a lot less water than a full-sized Schefflera.

indoor plant jade houseplant

Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you water your indoor plants:

  • Don’t rely on a schedule. When the top inch of your plant’s potting mix is dry, it’s probably a good time to water. For smaller plants, that could happen every one or two weeks. Larger plants may dry out more quickly.
  • Pay attention to your plant’s appearance. Drooping stems and curling leaves can be a sign of both over and underwatering. If your plant looks worn out, check the soil. If it’s dry, go ahead and water. If your plant is drooping and the soil is still damp, you may have an overwatering problem.
  • Water deeply and from the bottom. Water needs to get to the plant’s roots, so don’t water from the top of the plant. Point your watering can directly above the soil but below the foliage to avoid dampening the leaves. Let the water flow until it drains into the pan below. Empty the drainage pan to prevent root rot. 

Want more guidance? Check out our plant watering guide to learn more about watering your houseplants.

How Much Light Do Indoor Plants Need?

Tropical indoor plants are accustomed to growing on jungle floors, partially shaded by the canopy above. This makes offices and homes great places for most indoor tropical plants to thrive.

In fact, tropical plants like the Snake Plant prefer indirect bright light to full sun. On the other hand, a hardy succulent like Aloe can tolerate direct sunlight and even some drought, a natural response to increased light exposure.

indoor plant calathea houseplant

Your local nursery can provide guidance on the light conditions best for your plant. Most of the time, you’ll be instructed to provide your houseplant with the following types of light:

  • Indirect bright light. Place your plant on a brightly lit counter that doesn’t receive more than 4 hours of direct sunlight. Houseplants like the Bird of Paradise will thrive in this type of setting.
  • Direct bright light. Indoor plants that can withstand this type of light can take up to 6 hours of exposure to full sun. Fiddle Leaf Figs do well when placed in direct light.
  • Medium light. House plants that can tolerate some shade will do fine in medium light conditions, or areas that aren’t quite dark but aren’t brightly lit either. Calatheas thrive in medium light settings.
  • Low light. Few plants truly do well in low light settings. Windowless rooms often fit the low light description. Famously easy to care for, the ZZ plant can survive with minimal light.

Should I Fertilize My Houseplants?

Just like humans, plants need nutrients to grow and stay healthy. Unlike humans, plants don’t exactly get hangry when they’re in need of a meal. You’ll have to rely on your plant’s growth cycle to know when to provide them with the proper nutrition. 

indoor tropical plants houseplants greenhouse

While all plants have varying needs, most indoor plants will flourish if you follow these tips:

  • Use a balanced fertilizer. A balanced fertilizer contains an equal amount of the 3 macro nutrients most essential to a plant’s survival: nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P), and potassium (K).
  • Apply a slow-release fertilizer. These types of fertilizers tend to be organic and require fewer applications. Most of the time, you can apply slow-release fertilizer once in the beginning of spring and once in the beginning of summer.
  • Don’t fertilize during the winter. The shortened days during winter months expose your plants to less sunlight. Using fertilizer during this season can actually burn your plants since their growth slows substantially or completely stops until spring.

What indoor plant care tips do you have for someone new to houseplants? Drop some knowledge in the comments!

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