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Houseplants- Dos & Don'ts

Updated on May 24, 2015

Dos & Donts

Houseplants bring year round gardening right into your living room. You do not have to wait until spring to get out into the garden you can live in it all through the four seasons.

You have chosen to be an indoor garden so that you can enjoy the benefits of gardening inside. So the first do for the houseplant gardener is- get to know your plants and be comfortable with them.

What do I mean by comfortable, think of them as friends, welcome additions to your home. If this sounds strange then you are really going to wonder about the next do- do talk with them. I am not suggesting that you sit down and have a lengthy political or philosophical discussion with them but when you approach them say hello.

A kind word or two can’t hurt and it will help you accept the plants as a living member of your home; one that needs your care and attention. Once you have broken the ice you will find it more difficult to forget to water them.

Do develop the habit of visiting them several times a week and taking a close look at what is going on. Are there any changes? Are the leaves drooping or turning yellow? When you take this closer look you will be able to spot changes and get warning signals about potential problems. Forewarned is forearmed.

Do rotate your plants. Plants will lean towards the light source, this is called phototropic. If you fail to rotate them, they will grow lopsided so about once a week rotate them.

Do water with warm water at room temperature.

Do clean your plants, outside nature will take care of the plant’s hygiene but indoors it is all on you. Remove any yellow leaves, fallen leaves and flowers. Wash the plants leaves once a month with arm water and a drop or two of an environmentally friendly dish soap.

Don’t water with ice cold water as the sudden shock, think how you react when cold water is poured on you, can cause leaves to drop and the roots will not soak up the cold water.

Don’t fertilize if soil is dry, first water.

Don’t let the plants stand in drafts, like us , they become chilled, plants will also lose moisture and wilt.

Don’t, in winter let plant leaves touch a cold or icy windowsill.

If you move your plants outside during the heat of the summer, do remember that outside they will dry out faster than they do inside. You may need to water them daily. Do not take them out until after the threat of the last frost of the season ahs passed and do not leave them out overnight for the first three weeks.

You already know the light requirements of your houseplants so do place them where they will get what they need.

If you follow these basic dos and don’t’s your indoor garden will reward you with brilliant foliage and flowers for many years. Remember you have brought them into yoru home and by doing so have accepted much of the responsibility for their care.

They will pay you back many times over for the attention you provide.

Dining Companion

photo: Bob Ewing
photo: Bob Ewing

Houseplants Tips


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  • profile image

    House Plants Decor 5 years ago

    Nowadays, with our centrally heated houses, it is difficult for us to imagine the struggle house plants must have had surviving the winter in grandmother’s day. Yet although modern homes present greater opportunities for indoor cultivation, we still often make life much more difficult for our house plants that it need be. There are often very warm and ice-cold rooms in one and the same house. And at the night when the heating is turned down, or off, the temperature around the windowsill, where most of air house plants stand, drops dramatically. Casually, we simply expect them to get used to it.

  • profile image

    upali ghosh 5 years ago

    survival of all forms of life is dependant on the existence of plants

  • Bob Ewing profile image

    Bob Ewing 6 years ago from New Brunswick

    Life is about interaction and not just with humans, thanks for the comment.

  • profile image

    jude 6 years ago

    am known as the 'plant lady' in my area and Bob is sooooo

    right - talking to them and soft 'gentle' music is something they respond to. My mom had a beautiful hibiscus plant that bloomed steadily for many years but

    after her youngest son passed away, suddenly, the plant

    never bloomed again!!!

  • Bob Ewing profile image

    Bob Ewing 6 years ago from New Brunswick

    It is easy enough to develop a "green thumb". A little knowledge and experience will do it.

  • profile image

    pgim 6 years ago

    wish i have more of green thumb

  • Bob Ewing profile image

    Bob Ewing 9 years ago from New Brunswick

    Saying you are sorry helps, :) Thanks for stopping by.

  • market solution profile image

    market solution 9 years ago from Minneapolis, MN

    Wish I had more of a green thumb! I have had one particular plant for years and sometimes only remember to water it when it is all wilted. It always comes back - maybe because I said I'm sorry! Good hub.

  • Bob Ewing profile image

    Bob Ewing 9 years ago from New Brunswick

    Nicole, give this one a try when you can: Peace Lily - Spathiphyllum.

    mariesue thanks for the detailed comments and link. This book

    The Secret Life of Plants by Peter Tompkins & Christopher Bird

    is a good read.

  • marisuewrites profile image

    marisuewrites 9 years ago from USA

    I love how you mentioned talking to's not silly as it may at first seem, there are scientific tests that show plants responding positively to soft music and recoiling against violent type music.  Also, and this part sounds far out but it's true...I read many years ago about a plant that wilted when a certain person walked into a room, and come to find out -- the person had murdered the home resident who took care of the plant.  I'll try to find that story, but I do remember reading it in a magazine about plants...

    Has anyone else heard of such reactions, even to soft music and voice?  very informative Bob...and I'll see if i can find that article...weird as it sounds...we should respect the life of a plant.

    here's a link to a scientific study of something similar.but they murdered a plant...still the other plant reacted...go here for more info: interesting!

  • Trsmd profile image

    Trsmd 9 years ago from India

    I am unable to use your tips = no home plants with me..

  • Nicole Winter profile image

    Nicole A. Winter 9 years ago from Chicago, IL

    Bob, what an informative article. As soon as I have the funds I would like to invest in a few more house plants. Currently I own a small bamboo plant, the easiest thing in the world to grow. Is there anything along the lines of that you would suggest for first time care givers?

  • Bob Ewing profile image

    Bob Ewing 9 years ago from New Brunswick

    thanks for stopping by.

  • cgull8m profile image

    cgull8m 9 years ago from North Carolina

    Excellent tips again, too bad I am unable to grow them at my current place.