Easy Care Tips for Your Indoor Jungle
Houseplants add color, texture and warmth to your space. With the right information and a little trial and error they are fun to care for. Just like us humans, plants need a few elements to thrive and grow. Proper watering and lighting are the most important components of houseplant care, but humidity, temperatures, proper soil, an occasional cleaning, simple pruning, and knowing your insects also play a key role. Here’s how to convince your green friends that they are living in their ideal environment.
As with watering, every plant has different light requirements. The key is to mimic where they originally grew. For houseplants like Calathea Rattlesnake, they grow in tropical climates under the shade of large trees. They prefer bright indirect light but tolerate somewhat darker conditions. A good rule of thumb is 6 to 8 hours of sun a day, depending on the variety. A bright sunny windowsill in your kitchen is a great place to start!
Signs of Too Much Light
- Yellowing, burned patches
- Droopy, falling leaves
- Elongated stems
Signs of Not Enough Light
- Pale, lanky, leggy
- Shedding of leaves
- Flimsy new growth
If you do not have the ideal location to grow sun-loving types of plants try out low light varieties. Peperomia Watermelon is a unique looking low light houseplant you have to try growing. They tend to be easier to grow and are great if you are forgetful or just starting out!
Where to Place
Prior to buying, do your research and know your living space. Then, match the space and lighting with the plant’s requirements. Of course, your home can’t be an actual tropical rainforest but with the right placing your plant will think it is at home in the jungle. If it's your first time growing a new houseplant test out spots around your living spaces too see where your plant likes best. If it is thriving no need to move!
Tip when buying: Ask yourself, do you have a big spot by a sunny window or a small space with moderate light?
Perfect for low light varieties.
Great for decorative, eye catching open spaces.
Bedroom or Office
You’re either doing work or relaxing in these rooms so might as well add some beneficial plants to them. Try out houseplants that help clean the air of toxins, especially if you recently painted!
Lucky Bamboo is perfect for offices because it also helps remove carbon monoxide from the air, or consider putting this plant in your bedroom to ensure enough oxygen while sleeping.
Humidity and Temperature
Most plants thrive in high humidity with temperatures between 65-75° during the day and 55-60° at night. Of course, preferences vary from plant to plant with tropical plants liking temperatures around 80° (or higher) and other varieties grow better in cooler temperatures.
Ficus cannot tolerate low temperatures or cold drafts. Avoid harming your Ficus by keeping away from windows or doors.
4 tips to increase humidity in your living space:
- Using a humidifier can help increase the moisture in the air near your plants.
- Adding a small tray containing pebbles and water can boost local humidity.
- Group plants more closely together.
- Mist your plant’s leaves daily with a spray bottle.
Water every 5 to 7 days depending on variety. Keep soil evenly moist, but not soggy. We recommend room temperature tap water. A good rule of thumb is to water when the top 1 inch of the soil is dry. Roughly once a week. Test this with your fingers. For those who are too busy to keep up with a regular watering schedule, consider alternative options for self-watering devices. A moisture meter is a great place to start because it tells you which areas of your soil are over and under watered.
Make sure to evenly water all around the planter so water trickles out the drainage holes at the bottom.Water outside, a sink, or shower, we don’t judge! If water showers out the planter’s drainage hole you are good to go and if not repeat until it does. Like so
Signs of Over Watering
- Fungus or mold on the soil surface
- Mushy brown (maybe stinky) roots at the bottom of the pot
- Standing water in the bottom of the container
- Young and old leaves falling off at the same time
- Leaves with brown rotten patches
Signs of Under Watering
- Slow leaf growth
- Translucent leaves
- Premature dropping of flowers or leaves
- Brown, yellow or curled leaf edges
Care Tip: After watering, give them a check up every 2 to 3 days to avoid over watering.
It is important to select a container with a drainage hole or be prepared to drill holes for drainage if there are none. Full drainage is the key to successful growth otherwise your plant will rot from the roots on up. Throughout your lifetime you had to change sizes in shoes. Houseplants are the same! Eventually your plant’s roots will outgrow its planter. When repotting, choose a container one size larger than what you are taking it out of and add fresh potting soil.
Repotting Tip: Repot plants in the spring when they are just starting to grow with well-draining potting soil.
Like humans, plants do well with an occasional feeding. We recommend applying a balanced fertilizer monthly during active growth. During the winter, when plants are dormant or generally not growing much, fertilizer can be withheld. There are many varieties of fertilizer available from specialty(more acidic) to organic. Be sure to read the directions on any of the products you purchase.
Fertilizer Tip: If a plant is wilted, or an overall yellow-green color, water well first then apply a fertilizer later — after it has recovered. It might also need more light or less water, so take the time to analyze all conditions before more feeding. Adding fertilizer when a plant does not need it can be worse than doing nothing at all.
Plant foliage tends to not like dust. For the best display, use a damp cloth to wash the dust off of plant leaves periodically. You can also mist plants with a sprayer to keep the foliage cleaner and add humidity.
Want to keep your houseplant looking their best? It’s time for a haircut. Pruning helps maintain new balanced growth and overall size of the plant. If your vining houseplants are starting to look leggy, then it’s time to prune!
- Use clean sharp scissors or gardening shears.
- Prune at the beginning of their growing season.
- Remove dead foliage to allow the nutrients to travel to the healthy foliage.
- Remove 10-20 percent of the plant’s foliage at a time.
Pruning Tip: Pinch off the stems soft-stemmed houseplants like Pothos n Joy to maintain shape and even growth.
Want a new plant for free? Make a few cuttings and start propagating away. The Peperomia Marble is a super easy houseplant to start with. Simply place a cut stem that has a node on it in a glass of water and wait for it to root. Then plant in a small container and watch a new plant baby form.
Bringing Your Jungle OutdoorsIn the summer you can move your houseplants outside when temps are 70 degrees or above to help continuous new growth. Here’s how:
- Put outside between May and September. Wait 2-4 weeks until the last frost has passed.
- Put the plants in a shady spot outside during the day and bring them back inside at night for one or two weeks first.
- Gradually increase sunlight.
- Water more frequently when outside in the summer.
- Check for pests daily.
- Move back into your home before the first frost.
- Victoria Bartelt