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How to Care for Houseplants: 5 Indoor Plant Care Tips

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Apr 28, 2020 • 4 min read

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Ron Finley Teaches Gardening

You don't have to have a green thumb to take care of houseplants. With the right plants and the proper know-how, you can easily turn your home into a plant paradise.

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Ron Finley Teaches GardeningRon Finley Teaches Gardening

Community activist and self-taught gardener Ron Finley shows you how to garden in any space, nurture your plants, and grow your own food.

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11 Houseplants That Are Easy to Grow Indoors

These eleven types of houseplants are perfect for gardeners of any skill level.

  1. Snake plant: This vigorous yet chic member of the Sansevieria species thrives in low light and dry air.
  2. Succulents: Most succulents are low-maintenance and easy to care for. All they need is a tiny amount of water and a sunny windowsill. Popular indoor succulents include jade plants, cacti, and ponytail palms.
  3. Spider plant: Perfect for hanging from the ceiling, spider plants can handle low light (though a bright window is their ideal location). They produce shoots that are easy to propagate, so you can keep adding more greenery to your home.
  4. Peace lily: This gorgeous lily is available in purple, white, and pink varieties and is able to flourish in moist soil, eliminating worry about overwatering.
  5. Pothos: A member of the Philodendron family, pothos is a low-light plant that can spruce up any dark room. Pothos vines also purify the air in your home.
  6. Heart-leaf philodendron: This low-light plant with attractive, heart-shaped leaves and draping vines grows well in nearly any indoor space.
  7. Chinese evergreen: Even novice of gardeners should have no trouble maintaining a Chinese Evergreen. It’s a hardy, slow-growing low-light plant that is extremely forgiving of overwatering.
  8. ZZ plant: Short for Zamioculcas zamiifolia, ZZ plant is easy to care for—it can handle low light, low humidity, and drought conditions.
  9. Dieffenbachia: With their wide, green-and-white-patterned leaves, dieffenbachias are a wonderful option for anyone looking to add some tropical flavor to a shady room.
  10. Rubber tree: This natural air-purifier has the ability to grow up to eight feet tall, but you can prune it if you’re looking for a more compact option.
  11. Fiddle-leaf fig: A tall, stylish plant with broad leaves, fiddle-leaf figs thrive indoors in bright light environments.

5 Tips for Taking Care of Houseplants

Most houseplants are relatively easy to care for once you understand their basic requirements.

  1. Learn to tell when your plant is thirsty. Wilting leaves can be a sign your plant needs water. To eliminate the guesswork, an easy way to check is to simply stick your finger two inches deep into the soil. If it feels dry, then it's most likely time to water. You can also tell if the soil is too dry by lifting up the plant container and gauging its weight. The pot will feel heavier after watering and lighter as the soil dries out, and over time you’ll be able to gauge when the plant has enough moisture.
  2. Underwatering is better than overwatering. In general, most houseplants are better off slightly dry than sopping wet. Too much water can cause harmful root rot. When watering, your goal is to make the soil moist but not soggy (with succulents being a notable exception to this rule). Before you water your plants, make sure you place a tray or saucer underneath your potted plants to catch any excess water. Next, pour the water slowly until you see it trickling out from the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot. Usually, plants only need to be watered once or twice a week—and even less frequently in the cool winter months.
  3. Assess the amount of natural light in your home. Different houseplants require different types of light. Direct-light plants (usually succulents) need full sun conditions and should be placed near a south-facing window or on a windowsill flooded with direct sunlight. Bright-light plants require moderate light and can thrive in an east- or west-facing window—or potentially in a south-facing window, providing you place the plant several feet away from the glass. Low-light plants need the shadier conditions of a north-facing window. If your home doesn't have the right light requirements for your desired plants, you can purchase an LED or fluorescent grow light to simulate the proper conditions.
  4. Monitor and adjust your home's temperature. Most houseplants thrive in temperatures between 65 and 75°F during the day, with temperatures at night about 10 degrees cooler. If your house stays warmer at night, you can help your indoor plants by opening a window to ensure they get the cool air they need.
  5. Control humidity and ventilation. Many houseplant varieties grow best with a level of humidity in the air that is similar to what they would experience in their natural environment. If the air where you live is dry, lightly mist your plants with a spray bottle, or keep a humidifier nearby. Condensation that stays on leaves too long, though, can be harmful, which is why proper airflow is also crucial to maintaining healthy plants. Placing a fan near your houseplants to circulate air can blow away excess moisture and also prevent dust buildup on the leaves.
Ron Finley Teaches Gardening
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Grow your own food with Ron Finley, the self-described "Gangster Gardener." Get the MasterClass All-Access Pass and learn how to cultivate fresh herbs and vegetables, keep your house plants alive, and use compost to make your community - and the world - a better place.

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