Whether you're cultivating a kitchen-based jungle, looking to grow your own herbs for dinner, or want something that will help clean the air in your home - houseplant greenery is a great asset. To get the most out of your green friends, you need to keep on top of houseplant maintenance and build an indoor plant care plan. That's where we come in.
The dos and don'ts of good houseplant care
First of all, let's cover a few golden rules:
- Buy plants that suit your home environment - ask for help from experts if you're not sure or just look at what plants seem to grow well in your area.
- Label your plants so you remember what they are and how to look after them.
- Give your plants plenty of light but remember not all of them like direct sunlight. Choose a location that suits their needs.
- Keep them hydrated, especially if you're going away. Ask a neighbour to water your plants or use a drip feeder that gives plants a slow, steady drink over time.
- Monitor the temperature of your home and avoid keeping plants anywhere too hot (unless that's what they like!)
- Overwater your plants. Watering houseplants too much is a common cause of plant death.
- Water them with anything other than plain water. You may be tempted to pour a leftover drink into their soil but the sugars in other drinks may attract flies to the plant which can cause damage.
- Reposition them too much. Plants adapt to their surroundings so moving them frequently or repotting them unnecessarily could cause damage and affect their growth.
- Over-prune them. Many plants need to be pruned to keep them growing but, as with water, doing it too much could cause more harm than good. Moderation is the key.
- Try and grow outdoor plants indoors. They may not survive well in an indoor environment.
Indoor plant care: checklists and FAQs
Now you know the basics, it's time to develop an indoor plant care plan and tackle a few other common FAQs.
How to water plants and how often to do it?
How often to water indoor plants will depend on the type of plant. Some may require regular watering every day or two while others may only need a small drink once a week. Ask for guidance when buying your plants or, if in doubt, start by watering once or twice a week and then adjust as necessary based on how your plants respond.
What plants are best to grow indoors?
A number of native South African plants are great choices of indoor houseplant. Try the following:
- Snake plant. Great in low light and capable of living with infrequent watering. With its strappy leaves and architectural shape, this dark leafed plant is a perfect indoor companion.
- ZZ plant. Known by many names, including the Zanzibar Gem, Zuzu or Eternity Pant, this tropical perennial is native to south-eastern Africa. Perfect if you want to help purify your air. Water sparingly and keep in low light.
- String of beads. Native to the dry parts of southwest Africa, this plant is ideal if you want something a little different. Avoid overwatering this hanging plant or risk root rot.
Indoor houseplant care checklists
Try our daily and weekly indoor plant care checklists to keep on top of your houseplant maintenance.
- Make sure your plants are hydrated. Plants like ferns need watering a few times a week while succulents and cacti can sometimes go as long as a month between watering. Have a look at the leaves and soil before watering your plants.. If the soil is dry and cracking, give them a drink. If it’s wet and clogged, hold off for today.
- Dust them regularly. It may sound off but this prevents dust particles from gathering on the leaves which can make them look dull and even get in the way of respiration and photosynthesis.
- Inspect houseplants for signs of disease or animals. Remove any bugs immediately and consult experts on indoor plant care about treatment options if you think there’s an infection.
- Look closely at the leaves. Check for signs of yellowing or any decay. This can indicate that your plant isn’t happy and you might need to change your plant maintenance regime.
- Consider repotting. Repot a plant when it looks like it has overgrown its container. Roots are generally the same size as leaves, so if the leaves are much bigger than the pot it’s usually time to upgrade.
Plants can do so much for a home, from purifying the air to making a space instantly feel refreshed. Show your domestic forest some love by ensuring good air plant care is done just right!