Do You Have a Green Thumb? 8 Tips for Keeping Your Indoor Plants Alive

Humans have shared their homes with plants for at least 2,000 years. We know that the practice goes back at least as far as Ancient Rome, and that the use of decorative plants, in general, goes back even further.

With such a long history of gardening, you’d think that taking care of small indoor plants would come as second nature, but most of us still struggle with it. This makes us wonder what we’re doing wrong, and if there’s an easy way to fix it.

It turns out that there are quite a few ways, and you can learn about some of them in the paragraphs below.

1. Water and Light

It’s no mystery that all things need food and water to survive, and for plants, food comes in the form of sunlight. Plants are autotrophs, meaning that they produce nutrients on their own from ingredients they gather from the environment. 

The downside to this is that plants tend to thrive under very specific circumstances. If there is too much or too little light, the plant could starve or dry out.

A plant’s natural energy source is sunlight, so keeping them near an open window is probably the best choice.

Plants can also be poisoned by chemicals in the water, which is why many suggest using spring water or rainwater on plants. Another solution is to buy a faucet water filter that gets rid of chlorine. Filtered water is better in the long run for both plants and people. 

2. Drainage

We’ve mentioned that plants need the right amount of water to not dry out or drown, but this measurement doesn’t need to be as exact as it sounds. Soil uses a natural phenomenon called drainage, which means that excess water spreads evenly throughout it. This way, no single plant gets too much water.

In place of rainwater and a large area of soil, there are ways to simulate drainage. In pots without drainage holes, this is done by placing some sort of material in the bottom of the pot and adding the soil on top of it.

Some suggest using packing peanuts, some recommend pebbles and stones, and others suggest charcoal. The truth is that water tends to go towards finer particles, so you’ll need something finer than soil to filter the water down.

Potting soil is usually composed of clay, silt, and sand — and clay is the finest of these. If you have to filter out excess water, clay is the best option.

That being said, a good potting soil should be enough to keep your plants from drowning.

3. Prune Your Plants

Plants should be pruned at least once per year, especially during the colder seasons. This process helps remove sickly, weak, or otherwise unhealthy branches.

It also helps keep the plant from becoming lopsided or top-heavy. That way, the plant will never fall down.

The reason pruning is best done when it’s colder is that the tree stops growing during those seasons. A little-known fact about plants is that they are susceptible to trauma, and cutting away from them when they’re still growing only hinders further growth.

4. Keep It in the Right Place

Trauma can be caused by more than just pruning at the wrong time. Plants will also suffer if you move them around too often.

Like us, plants tend to get very used to their surroundings. You’ve probably seen those online pictures of people in Florida wearing hooded sweatshirts in sixty-degree weather or New Englanders wearing t-shirts at just above freezing.

Something similar happens to plants. They get very used to the conditions they’re in and may be very affected by sudden or notable changes.

This doesn’t mean that you should never move your plants. On the contrary, a growing plant is going to need to be moved periodically as it grows. That way, it doesn’t become too large for its container.

5. Fertilizer

All plants need fertilizer to grow, and a lot of it has to do with what fertilizer is. There are three main ingredients in all fertilizers — potassium, phosphorus, and nitrogen.

Each of them stimulates growth in its own way. Potassium is a plant version of antioxidants. It helps the plant grow fruits, assuming it can, and resist sickness. Too much potassium, however, can keep the plant from receiving other nutrients.

If potassium acts as an antioxidant, phosphorus represents the hormones. It helps plants grow healthy roots, but it also aids them in reaching the fruiting and flowering phase as well as giving off seeds. Phosphorus is what allows plants to create more plants.

Speaking of plants and flowers, we can give you a few tips on how to decorate your home with flowers.

Nitrogen, in this extended metaphor, can be linked to the digestive system. It creates all the necessary ingredients for plants through photosynthesis. This compound is naturally produced through decomposition, which is what fertilizer is meant to mimic.

These are just a few of the ingredients in a good fertilizer. You can learn more about the other ones by clicking the link.

6. Pest Control

Just like crops, houseplants are vulnerable to pests. In fact, indoor plants may have even more issues with pests because they no longer have to deal with the predators and environmental threats of the outside world.

Before going any further, it should be noted that certain plants are more vulnerable to certain pests, so research is always a good idea.

The best way to find pests is to watch your plant carefully. Pests tend to cause rapid damage to a plant, so a sudden turn for the worse is something to look out for.

If you do find evidence of pests, it’s time to do research again. There are a lot of products out there for keeping plants free of pests, and you’ll need to know which ones to use.

7. Temperature and Air

All plants are subject to temperature and CO2 content. In addition to being too hot, a plant can also be too cold, so it’s best to try to keep it in moderate temperatures, at least to start out.

Also, if you’re growing your plants in a terrarium or other lidded environment, you’re going to need to breathe into it a few times per week. That way, it will have enough carbon dioxide to breathe.

8. Repotting

We haven’t talked much about repotting yet, but it’s easy to tell when to repot. The first step is to take the plant and soil out of its current pot.

Once the plant is out, take notice of the roots. If they’re poking out of the soil and starting to wrap around it, it’s time to move to a bigger pot.

Taking Care of Small Indoor Plants

A lot goes into caring for small indoor plants, more than most of us would first expect. That being said, much of plant care comes down to paying attention.

Keep an eye on it and do a simple check on it every once in a while. Watch for pests, and see if the plant is drying out. Make sure it’s getting the right amounts of the right nutrients, and that it’s not too big for its current home. 

Those are just a few of the things you can do to keep your plant healthy.

To find more about decoration and home maintenance, please visit our site. If you’re passionate about the environment, we’ve got plenty of ways to make your home more eco-friendly.