Growing Healthy Houseplants

Living plants enhance interiors and patios by adding natural color, form and fragrance to the living space. Houseplants decorate over 30 million American households, and represent an activity expected to increase. This assortment of accessories adds ease, comfort, and enjoyment to this activity.


Flowering plants need more light than foliage plants in order to initiate bud production. If uncertain about a plants lighting needs, too little light is less harmful than too much light. All plants turn their leaves toward the source of light with the exception of stiff leaf plants. Turning your plant occasionally will promote balanced upright growth. Bleached looking areas on leaves are an indicator of too much light. Thin, leggy growth is an indication the plant is not getting enough light.


Always use a sharp pruner to avoid bruising or damaging the remaining stem. Trimming back stem tips encourages plants to fill out, grow sturdy stems, maintain an attractive shape, and bloom. When trimming the brown tips from plant leaves to improve appearance, cut only the brown portion leaving a thin line of dry tip. This should prevent further drying.


When using tap water for plants, fill the water canister the night before you water. This will bring the water to an equal room temperature with the plant and let some of the chlorine dissipate. Distilled or filtered water is best. Over watering tends to be more fatal to plants than under watering. Lower leaves turning yellow is an indication of over watering. Most plants need a natural period of rest. This typically is during the winter months when there is a reduced amount of natural light available. Be sensitive to water much more sparingly during these months.


New plants that are purchased in shipping containers should be repotted with fresh potting soil. Repot plants at the start of the growing season (springtime) and not during the more dormant winter months. Be sure pots have drainage holes, or an inch of drainage gravel at the bottom to prevent root rotting. Plants can be topdressed by removing the top inch or two of soil from inside the pot and replacing it with fresh potting soil to provide fresh nutrients.


Humidity is a critical component to plant health and appearance. Room humidity of 40-60% is best. Help your plants by:

  • Using a humidifier
  • Grouping plants together
  • Misting frequently
  • Standing plant pots in water filled trays


Dust and grime can clog leaf pores necessary for photosynthesis. Wipe broad leaf plants periodically with a damp leaf shine mitt, or give them a shower to maintain their natural healthy sheen.