Proper Plant Maintenance for Indoor Plants

The type of plant maintenance your houseplants need is going to vary depending on the type of plants you own and the conditions in your home. With the right nutrients and environment, your indoor plants will thrive and add vibrancy to your home. Most indoor plants were first grown in a greenhouse under ideal conditions, so you’ll want to be careful about adjusting them to conditions of your home. The key is to provide them with the conditions that mirror where they come from naturally. By following this simple guide, you can ensure that your houseplants will look beautiful for years to come in your home and/or business setting.

Of course, water is the most important requirement for proper plant maintenance. For most potted plants, you want to keep the soil moist and not overly wet. Exceptions include plants like succulents and other plants with thick leaves, which do better when the soil dries out between being watered. If the soil is too wet or too dry, the plant’s roots will wither, which can stunt growth or even cause the plant to die.

You should check each plant every 3-4 days to see if it needs water. There are a few different methods to determine when your plant needs water. If the potting soil becomes cracked or lighter in color, it’s time for nourishment. It can be helpful to touch the soil to determine the moisture below the surface. A water monitor or water probe is a reliable device to use as well. Larger plants may require a moisture meter that will help you gauge the amount of water around the plant’s root mass.

Proper plant maintenance will require you to be able to read the signs your plant is giving you. For example, signs of under-watering can include translucent leaves, slow growth of leaves, premature loss of flowers or leaves, and yellow, brown, or curled leaf edges. Too much water will also produce some easily readable signs to help you care for your plant. Overwatering is the top killer of houseplants, as it forces air from the soil and can allow root-killing bacteria and fungus to build up. Overwatering signs include leaves with brown rotten patches, young and old leaves falling off at the same time, fungus or mold on the surface of the soil, brown and mushy roots at the bottom of the pot, and standing water at the bottom of the pot.

Plants that require a lot of water include those that are actively growing, are under direct sunlight, have large leaves or thin leaves, are native to tropical climates, plants grown in small pots or clay pots, and flowering plants. Plants will require less water when they are resting or dormant, recently repotted, grown in high humidity, have rubbery or thick leaves, are situated in cool rooms, or are potted in non-porous containers.

Every plant is going to require different amounts of light, sometimes even for each individual plant within the same species. Flowering plants typically need more light than foliage plants, with croton plants being one major exception. Plants that have thick, fleshy leaves usually don’t need much light, while succulents and cacti require significant amounts of light to thrive. Certain flowering plants thrive based on how long they receive light each day, rather than the light’s intensity. With most plants, even if the light they receive is less than ideal, they can still do well with proper water, soil, and humidity conditions.

For plants that require intense light, you should try to place them towards a southern-facing window, which will be the brightest. Western and eastern-facing windows also will allow for a good amount of light. If you can help it, northern-facing windows should be reserved for plants that require the least amount of light. If your plant is receiving too much light, it will cause pale foliage or leaf burn, while insufficient lighting will cause spindly stems, leaf drop, and yellow foliage.

Using the right soil for your houseplants is an important aspect of plant maintenance that shouldn’t be overlooked. While it may be tempting, you should never use soil from your garden or yard. It could be filled with insects, fungal diseases, and weed seeds. You should always purchase your potting soil at a local garden center. This soil will give your plants what it needs to stay healthy, including a mixture of things like decomposed organic matter, peat moss, and vermiculite. To reduce the amount of maintenance your plant requires you may want to buy a mix with a time-released fertilizer and moisture-retaining polymer crystals. It is also recommended to repot plants every so often to ensure the plant stays in optimal health.

Plant maintenance is always going to require you to read the cues your plant is giving you. Feel free to experiment with the conditions a bit to find out what works best for each plant. By finding the right combination of water, light, and soil, your plants will grow to be healthy and beautiful. For professional guidance on designing your own indoor garden and for advice on maintaining your creation, visit our website at, give us a call at 610-329-3935, or email us at

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