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Top Houseplant Mistakes

Updated on March 6, 2013

Let's face it, not everyone has a green thumb and many people just don't have a natural knack for keeping houseplants alive and healthy.

If you find that your houseplants always seem die on you, you might be committing one of the common mistakes in keeping houseplants. Keep reading, and you'll have your plants healthy and green in no time.

Over Watering

Most people visualize dying houseplants as brown and parched, but the reality is that most houseplants are over-watered. Don't just check the surface of the soil for dryness. Poke your finger in a bit and see if the soil is moist underneath by about an inch. If it's wet under there, then don't water yet.

Wrong Light Levels

People tend to assume that houseplants are desperate for more light, and will place their plants in the brightest window possible. In fact, many houseplants are happier in lower light locations. Do a bit of research on your plant and keep it in the proper locations. Most plants are sold as houseplants specifically because they need lower light than other outdoor-only plants.

No Fertilizer

Or alternatively, the wrong type of fertilizer. Don't assume that houseplants don't need fertilizer. They definitely do. You should use a fertilizer designed for houseplants and use it monthly (or whatever frequency is suggested by the product). Take extra care to fertilize during the spring when the plants are doing their growth spurts.

No Ongoing Care

Most people who want houseplants, are usually looking for a low-maintenance kind of plant. Most plants will do just fine with light and water, but you can't go wrong with a little upkeep as well. Dead leaves and flowers should be plucked off to encourage more growth. You could even give your plants a dusting every once in a while to keep the leaves clean. They breath through the leaf surface, so dusty plants are slowly choking.

Pest Problems

Yes, even indoor plants can have problems with bugs. Certain bug pests are more common with houseplants, such as spider mites, mealy bugs and aphids. Some pests can be controlled easy with a wash of soapy water, but having an all-purpose natural pesticide handy will help as well. Those with pyrethrins are a good choice. Insect pests are more common with plants recently brought in from outdoors, or those just purchases from a store. Give them a good inspection before putting them in close contact with other indoor plants.

Using an Improper Pot

Firstly, your houseplant pot should have holes in the bottom for drainage. Secondly, it should be big enough. People tend to forget that houseplants grow under the soil as well as above it, which leads to the roots getting all compacted and bound up in a small pot. An average houseplant will need repotting every 2 to 3 years. You can't tell just by looking, so make it a habit once a year to let the soil dry somewhat and gently pull the plant (along with the soil ball) from the pot. If it is packed with roots, then it's time for a bigger pot. If it is still mostly soil, then leave it as is.


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    • aslanlight profile image


      7 years ago from England

      Very informative, thanks for posting it!

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      Great hub! I really enjoyed reading it.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish MS 

      11 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Nice Hub - thorough information that some folks might not know.

    • caspar profile image


      11 years ago from UK

      Excellent info - I'll try and use it to save the lives of the few houseplants I've got left!

    • Guru-C profile image

      Cory Zacharia 

      11 years ago

      Great information!


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