We’re jumping on board the houseplant craze and offering leafjoy™ houseplants by Proven Winners! When it’s too cold to garden outdoors, you can keep your green thumb going all through the winter months by tending to your houseplants. They are what breathes life into indoor spaces and make a house feel more like a home. Plus, indoor plant décor is a fun way to express your personal style much like your flowering plants do out in the garden.
It takes a little skill to learn how to grow houseplants well, as it is a whole new class of plants you might not be as familiar with. There is an enormous array of different types, and they all have their own preferred growing conditions. Think of how tropical plants grow in their natural conditions in warm climates like Florida and California. If you can master how to think like a houseplant, you’ll be successful growing them.
Here are six main topics you’ll need to know about to keep your houseplants happy.
1. PLANT SELECTION
Just like you’ve learned how to select the right plants for the right conditions in your garden outside, you’ll need to do the same for your houseplants. Because they are growing indoors, you will be providing all of the things that tropical plants normally obtain naturally from growing outside—namely, the proper amount of light, water, humidity, food as well as the right kind of soil.
Before you purchase a new houseplant, think about where in your home it will grow. How much light will your new plant receive in that spot? Is the air naturally more humid there (such as in a bathroom) or would you be able to add a humidifier? How much space to you have to allocate to a plant in that place?
Use your answers to these questions to search for a houseplant that will enjoy the conditions you have to offer.
To make it easier to know where in your house a particular houseplant will grow well, the leafjoy collection of houseplants is divided into four use categories: Atrium™, Cocoon™, SpaScene™ and WorkLife™. Atrium plants prefer high light conditions while Cocoon varieties can survive in lower light. SpaScene plants need higher levels of humidity to prevent their leaves from developing crispy edges. WorkLife plants are compact enough to fit on your desk or bookshelf and won’t take up too much room in your office.
2. WATER & HUMIDITY
Be careful how often you water your houseplants. Because they are right in front of us, we tend to give them a little too much love and that’s the fastest way to kill them. Don’t water on a set schedule. Instead, stick your finger into the soil and see if it is still damp. If so, don’t water that day. If it is dry and the pot feels relatively light for its size, go ahead and water. Keep in mind that plants positioned in a sunnier or drier spot in your house may need to be watered more frequently.
Dry air will make most houseplants, except for succulents, very unhappy and it can weaken them to the point where pests move in. Take care not to place your houseplants near a heating or cooling vent as that can quickly dry them out.
It’s common to add a humidifier in the room with your houseplants during the colder months of the year when the furnace is running. Bathrooms in which a shower or tub is used frequently or the space next to your kitchen sink tend to be more humid, which makes them amenable to more types of plants. If none of these options are available, try setting the pot on a pebble tray filled with water (without letting the bottom of the pot sit in the water). As the water evaporates from the tray, it will increase the humidity slightly around the plant.
When you water your plants, look to see if their leaves are dusty. If so, take a minute to wash or wipe the foliage off so that the plant can photosynthesize properly. A dusty plant cannot absorb sunlight well even if it is sitting right in front of a window.
When a plant is growing outdoors, it receives everything it needs from the sun. When it is growing indoors, you must try and mimic those conditions. To do so, use grow lights which emit red and blue light (though it looks clear to the human eye). Plants need these wavelengths of light to be able to grow and bloom.
Even if your houseplant was growing in full shade outdoors, the light levels there were still higher than any spot indoors. That’s why it is important to supplement the light when you move a plant back inside for the winter. And since days are shorter and generally cloudier in the winter, that extra light is really needed to prevent your plants from going to sleep for the rest of the season.
You could set up a rack system with grow lights in a room in your home to keep your plants going in winter. People who collect African violets, orchids and other flowering houseplants often do this. If you have just a few houseplants growing near a windowsill, consider changing out the light bulb in a nearby lamp to a grow light. Such bulbs are made in all different shapes and sizes, including those that fit a standard lamp. Find them at your local hardware store or garden center.
Feeding houseplants is different than feeding your outdoor plants. There are fertilizers formulated specifically for houseplants like the general purpose Indoor Organic Houseplant Food from Espoma®. Specialty plants like cacti and orchids have their own special fertilizer formulas.
Houseplants should not be fed year-round. Feed them only when they are actively growing from spring to fall. Once they stop putting out new leaves or flowers from late fall through the winter, they no longer need to be fed and doing so could actually weaken the plant. If you move your houseplants outdoors for the summer, you can feed them while they are outside but then be sure to stop once you bring them back inside for the winter.
One other detail you’ll need to know about feeding your houseplants is that the dosage matters. Because they aren’t growing in their optimal conditions outdoors in a tropical setting, these plants don’t need as much food to support their limited growth. It’s better to feed your houseplants at ¼ to ½ the recommended dose every time you water during the growing season instead of feeding them the full amount once per month. This more closely mimics their native environment where the plants are constantly absorbing nutrients from decaying organic matter.
When a houseplant is produced commercially, the potting mix is designed to keep the plants moist for an extended period. If you think about where houseplants are sold in stores, this makes sense. These locations aren’t always amenable to breaking out a hose and getting the floor wet.
Unfortunately, this means that once you bring your new houseplant home, the soil may stay too wet and the plant can start to suffer. The easiest way to avoid this is to repot it. A general potting mix designed for houseplants works well for most, but succulents and orchids require special potting mixes that are very fast-draining and don’t retain much moisture. It’s easy to make your own potting mix using equal parts of the soil the plant came in, perlite and vermiculite.
6. POT SIZE
One of the most common mistakes people make when repotting or up-potting their houseplants is using too large of a pot. When the pot is too large, the soil that surrounds the roots can stay wet for too long and cause them to rot. Also, your plant will spend all its energy trying to fill that pot with roots instead of growing new leaves or flowers.
Instead, choose a pot that is just one size larger when you repot or up-pot your houseplant. For example, if it was growing in a 4” pot, transplant it into a 6” pot, not an 8” or 10” pot. Generally, most houseplants prefer to be snug in their container rather than having plenty of room to grow.
As with any potted plants, make sure the pot has at least one drainage hole for the excess water to escape. If you are using a saucer under your pot, empty it so the plant does not sit in water.
Now that you’ve learned the basics, explore our selection of leafjoy houseplants!