There’s no question indoor plants can brighten up a room. But It’s not quite the same effect if they’re wilting, drooping, yellowing, or otherwise just not thriving.
If you think your plants could use some additional TLC, try these tips:
Don’t treat all your plants the same
Different plants have different needs when it comes to sunlight, water and maintenance.
Most plants do well in bright, indirect light (such as near a window, but without actually being in the sun). Some do better with moderate or low light, and some may even need more direct light. No matter what kind of light they need, consider rotating your plants every 2-3 months so that all sides get similar light exposure.
It also helps to put your plants on different watering schedules. Plants that naturally grow in a desert environment, such as cacti or succulents, won’t need as much water as tropical plants. In general, plants with thicker leaves need less water, while plants with thinner leaves need more.
And while some plants are finicky and need specific care, a lot will suffer if they’re moved or fussed with too much.
Get the right plant for your environment
The other half of the battle is getting the right plant for your home in the first place. For example, if your space has low lighting, you wouldn’t want to get a plant that needs a lot of direct light.
If you don’t exactly have a green thumb, go for low-maintenance plants. Check out these resilient varieties, and pick the best ones for your care style.
And if you have pets, make sure you pick a plant that’s safe for them. Many common plants can be toxic to cats and dogs. In some cases, the animal doesn’t even need to be in contact with the plant—even airborne particles can be dangerous.
The ASPCA has compiled a list of plants to avoid so you can check if any of your houseplants pose a problem for your furry friends.
Or, if you’re just starting the hunt for the perfect plant, here’s a list of some pet-friendly options.
Make sure they’re getting enough air
Even turning on a ceiling fan regularly helps. Proper ventilation helps clear out air pollutants, keeping you and your plants healthy. Excessive dampness is also a big killer for houseplants, as it can lead to fungal disease and rot. Good airflow helps extra water evaporate from your plant quickly.
Airflow also helps the surface of leaves stay clean, which in turn keeps the plant healthier. If you see the leaves looking white or dusty, wipe them down gently with a cloth.
And don’t keep the plant too close to a corner or wall—this makes it harder for those back parts of the plants to get sufficient air.
Don’t forget about the roots
Healthy roots are essential for a healthy plant.
As your plant grows, the root system grows as well. If this becomes too crowded, it won’t be able take in the water and nutrients it needs.
Plants usually need to be repotted every 12-18 months. Sometimes, they don’t even need a new container—just new soil with fresh nutrients.
Look for these signs your plant needs to be repotted:
- Plant becoming top-heavy or easily tipped
- Roots coming up through the soil or through the drainage holes
- Soil level going down in the pot
- Salt/mineral buildup
- Slow or stagnant growth
If you see any of these, it’s time to repot. But if you can repot on your own schedule, plants do best when repotted in the spring. That’s because that’s typically when roots are growing, so they’ll be able to expand into the new soil right away,
Last, make sure you get the right soil for your type of houseplant. While you always want to use a mix intended for potted plants, rather than a garden soil, you also want to pay attention to the soil composition. As with everything else, some plants thrive more in one type of soil than others.
With the right houseplant for your lifestyle and a solid maintenance schedule, you can enjoy your plants for years to come.