Garden Care

How to take care of your houseplants

September 20, 2011

Know your houseplants

A houseplant is a plant that is grown indoors. These houseplants are most commonly grown as decorative plants. Taking care of houseplants is not a tedious job. You have to look after only the basic requirements of these plants such as proper watering, lighting, and soil requirements. These requirements will be species specific. Following are the major factors, which should be specifically taken care of for houseplants. By following these general guidelines your houseplants will bloom and remain healthy.


Houseplants are not grown in simple natural soil; they require specialized soil known as potting soil or potting compost. Potting soil is a combination of local natural soil, added nutrients, coconut fiber or coir, and vermiculate. All these ingredients are mixed in varying amounts depending upon the specific requirement of the plant.

Soil chosen should be free of bacteria to protect plants from disease. Coconut fiber or coir is used to improve the absorption ability of soil. Vermiculate helps in improving drainage of soil. Sometimes a coarse grade of grit or sand is also used as substitute of vermiculate to promote the drainage system. Fertilizers are also added if a plant requires an additional specific nutrient support.

Pot types and sizes

Selecting a proper pot is also an important factor in the proper growth of the plant. If you select a very large pot, it may cause root diseases because of excess of moisture retention and if you select a very small pot, it will hinder the growth of the plant. It is also recommendable to select a porous pot with a hole in the bottom to allow flow of excess of water to prevent rotting of roots.

Nutritional Requirements

In potted plants, the soil nutrient gradually depletes, therefore it requires additional nutritional supplements in the form of fertilizers. Usually fertilizers containing equal amount of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium are used, but some times one or other content of the fertilizers can be increased depending on the requirements of the plant.

However, the growth of plants should be monitored regularly because overuse of fertilizer can be harmful for the growth of plants.

Water requirement

Water requirement of a houseplant depends on the species of the plant. Other factors are plant size, temperature, pot size and its type, light, humidity and soil type.

Adequate amount of moisture should be maintained because both over watering and under watering are harmful for the plants. It is not advisable to fill the pot completely with water now and then. Water them only if you feel that the moisture content of soil is not appropriate, but do not let the soil completely dry.


Light is the most important factor because plant produces their food through the process of photosynthesis.

Each plant has its own light requirements. Some plants require direct sunlight; others are grown in shade or semi shade. Too much light can burn the plants and less amount of light can hinder their growth. Therefore, intensity and duration of light requirement is also important.

Temperature requirement

Most of the houseplants are adapted to grow at normal temperature ranging between 15°C and 25°C. Some exceptions are there, such as winter plants blossom well when temperature falls (between 5°C and 10°C).


Houseplant requires an adequate amount of humidity for their proper growth. Humidity can be maintained by placing the pots in shallow trays covered with pebbles or gravels and filled with water which will evaporate to increase humidity. Other methods of maintaining humidity includes grouping of plants together.

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