How to Choose and Care for Houseplants


woman watering houseplants
Decorating with houseplants is intimidating to some people. But greenery helps a house feel like a HOME. I hope I can plant the seed (pun intended) for your houseplant addition!
 

The Benefits of Houseplants

The thought that indoor plants can “clean the air" is not true. You would need plants in every square inch of your home to make a difference.
But they can improve your mental state and productivity. Studies have shown that plants have helped patients recover faster and had less anxiety. Studies have also shown being around plants improves concentration, memory and productivity.
Spider plant in red pot

The First Plant is “Free”

Ok, you will have to pay for it. But start small and easy. There are plenty of low maintenance options available. Here are a few I’ve had good luck with:
  • Christmas Cactus
  • Pothos (Devil's Ivy)
  • Shamrock
  • Spider Plant 
  • Snake Plant 
Peace Lily

Water Only When Thirsty

A common mistake people make with houseplants is overwatering them. Some plants, such as the Peace Lily and Shamrock, will start to droop when they want some water. Don’t drown them though! A little drink is all it takes for them to perk back up.
The soil should be dry before you add more water, so test before you pour. A good rule of [green]thumb is to water once a week. And more often than not, you can get away with every other week.
 
Orchid
 

Location, Location, Location

Of course, sunlight is important to a plant’s health and happiness. But they can be like Goldilocks – too much sun can burn their leaves, while too little can stunt their growth. It needs to be juuuuuust right! 
I have an orchid (a very finicky plant!) that I’ve managed to keep alive for years. But after the initial blooms on it fell off, it has not rebloomed. When I was at a friend’s office one day, I noticed all the orchids full of blooms!
When I asked what her secret was, she said she moved them to a south-facing window. I moved mine as soon as I got home, and it started growing new roots and leaves within a week! It hasn’t bloomed again yet, but I’m feeling optimist.
If you have a plant that is not doing well, move it! That’s the benefit of them being portable. But once you’ve found their “sweet spot”, leave them alone. Taking them out of their comfort zone will only stress them out.
 
Christmas cactus with new growth
 

Feed the Habit

Like we need food for nourishment, so do plants. So don’t make them starve! Add plant food to your watering routine in the growing months (Spring thru Fall).
 
Monstera Swiss cheese plant leaf
 

Try and Try Again

There have been some plants I’ve had a hard time maintaining (I’m looking at you, Boston fern!). When (notice I didn’t say “if) you have a plant die on you, don’t give up! Some stores will offer you a refund or credit for another plant. Speaking of which, I have a sad String of Dolphins I need to see about replacing…
 
Succulent in pink pot
 

Supporting Your Habit

I compare having houseplants as an addition, because it is! I get such a high from maintaining several plants in my home.  I can never have enough, and this can get very spendy.
One trick to save money is to shop for containers/pots at thrift stores. Another way to reduce your spending is by propagating plants. Tell friends and family that instead of fresh flowers for gifts, you would prefer plants.
 
Wild at Home book by Hilton Carter
 

The Riches are in the Research

Something that has inspire me is the book Wild at Home* by Hilton Carter. It is like my Bible and I keep it on my coffee table so it’s handy, and I refer to it all the time. So go get yourself a copy! And stalk follow him on Instagram, while you’re at it.
*I am committed to supporting Black-owned businesses.  Here is list of Black-owned bookstores by state.
 
rubber tree and palm tree plants
A home is not complete without houseplants. But you don’t have to have a “green thumb” to decorate with them. Start small for practice. Then, when you’re feeling more confident, remember this: there is no such thing as too many houseplants!
I would love to hear your tricks and tips for keeping houseplants!  Please comment below.  Especially if they involve keeping cats from destroying them.  

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