Houseplant Care Basics

Caring for your houseplant can be easy as long as you know what it needs. It’s best to be find out as much Information as possible on their care and their characteristics to give it the best possible care..

Below, I will share some details on things to look out for.

Sunlight, Bright Indirect Light, Grow-lights … what??

Light is a one of the crucial requirements for all houseplants to thrive. All plants require light for photosynthesis, which is the process within a plant’s leaves that converts light, air and water into glucose (plant food). Without food, the plant is ‘toasted’.

What kind of light is required? Generally, houseplants do well with bright indirect light. What does that mean, you might asked? It simply means bright natural light reflected off walls or surfaces but NOT direct sunlight or at least not a prolong period. Usually an hour or two of morning sunlight should be fine. The main reason for this is simply not to burn the houseplants’ foliage.

Typically, putting your houseplant by a window with some good natural light will be the best practice. Although, nowadays, there is an increasingly usage of grow-lights to substitute or supplement natural light. These grow-lights are relatively affordable and they run on LED technology which simply translates to low electrical consumption. However, do note that your typical home lightings are different from grow-lights as grow-lights produces more light spectrum compared to ordinary household lights.


Watering

Moisture meter – helps to determine the moisture level of the soil

Plants need water for photosynthesis. Proper care must be taken for watering the houseplant. Overwatering will lead to root rot while underwatering will cause the roots and leaves to dry out. You need to determine how much moisture is retained in the soil and one very easy method will be to use a moisture meter. A moisture meter is not costly and easy to maintain. Just simply stick it into the soil ,get the reading and decide what to do.

Alternative, you could stick your index finger fully into the soil to feel whether the soil is still wet, moist or dry.

But if the pot is too deep or too big for a moisture meter, you could stick a wooden chop-stick as deep as possible into the soil and leave it in for a minute. Upon pulling the stick out, If there is some soil that sticks on to the chop-stick or it looks wet, then perhaps wait another 1-2 days before checking it again.


Soil / Substrate

The type of soil or substrate determines how much water it can retain. Compact or dense material like vermiculite or coco coir retains more water then material that are more chunky. eg. pumice stones or coco chips. But on the other hand, mixing the two types of materials together in various proportions will help to regulate the kind of moisture retaining characteristics of the overall substrate.

Semi-hydrophonics is another popular method to pot plants. Leca balls, pumice stones or zeolites are used as a substrate that will wick water up within a self-watering pot setup.

Most times, plants that you’ve just acquired from the nurseries ado come potted with their mix of soil. The soil mix however, may not be suited for your home conditions (too humid, too dry, too hot, etc). This may cause the soil to either dry out too fast or simply does not dry out within a week or two.

Therefore, depending on your plant’s requirement for watering, you can repot the plant with a mix that is more suitable for your home conditions.


Fertilizers

Plants need fertilizers for maintaining healthy soil and better foliage growth. One could simply use either organic or chemical fertilizers available from supermarkets or nurseries.

Most fertilizer packaging will denote their N-P-K values.

  • Nitrogen (N) denotes nitrogen. It is largely responsible for the growth of leaves on plant.
  • Phosphorus (P) denotes phosphorus. It is largely responsible for root growth, flower and fruit development.
  • Potassium (K) denotes potassium. It is plays a part in root growth as well as in stem development

With chemical fertilizers, it is best to either follow the amount that the manufacturer recommended or lower it by one-third or half, so as in order not to ‘burn’ the plant.


Repotting

Repotting of houseplants are usually done annually or bi-annually. For most cases, when you have roots growing out from above or below your pot, then it is time to switch to a bigger pot. Also, when you see that your plant seems to be stunned in it’s growth, it is perhaps time to remove the plant from its pot to inspect the roots. Whichever the case. a recommended upsize will be 1-2 inches bigger then the previous pot.


Pests

Bite marks likely made by spider mites.

All houseplants will come in contact with pests one time or another regardless the conditions. Leaf sucking pests like aphids, spider mites, mealy bugs, scales, etc are the more common ones we will encounter. These pest can infest your plants over time and leave them in a condition way beyond their survival.

A simple practice to keep pest at bay is by cleaning the leaves on the houseplants regularly. Usually, weekly washing of the the leaves under a running tap or jet spray or wiping down the leaves with some diluted neem oil can help ward off the pests.

Alternatively, there are over-the-counter pesticides that comes in a spray bottle which will usually work well in eliminating the pest residing on the foliage. But due to the fact that the pest are quite tiny and hard to spot with the naked eye, it is best to periodically spray down the plants.

A good organic pesticide will be be neem oil. If used correctly, either by spraying and/or soil drenching, it can systemically control or eliminate the pests from the plant. It is almost touted to prevent mild root rot as well.

Summary

In summary, these are just some basic info that you can use to help keep your houseplants growing healthy. These info are based on my experiences that have been tried and tested and proven to help.

Thanks for reading!