Houseplant Care: Important Tips For Houseplant Success

By Raffaele DiLallo | January 5, 2021
Image by Bogdan Kurylo
by Raffaele DiLallo
January 5, 2021

I grow a huge variety of houseplants and don’t specialize in one particular type of plant, although I do have quite a few aroids and orchids. I grow everything from a handful of Monstera species to several types of orchids, sansevieria, philodendrons, ficus, hoyas, calathea, bromeliads, and so many more!  

Tips for Houseplant Success

Since growing houseplants is pretty much my thing, allow me to share my favorite tips for houseplant success. There are many misconceptions in houseplant care related to these two very important topics: light and proper watering. I love helping people demystify these areas.

Let’s start with light“¦ There is a lot of confusion over “low light” plants. We often see plant labels, inserted into houseplants when we purchase them that have the “low light” designation. We also see this designation on many websites. Many people take this to mean that the plant needs low light, so they’ll place them in a dark corner in their home. A “low light” designation doesn’t always mean that the plant likes low light. It often means that they’ll tolerate low light. In the case of sansevieria, for instance, they actually benefit from some direct sun. In nature, they can grow in very sunny areas. Sure, they will look okay in a darker area of your home for a while, but eventually the growth will be weaker and less sturdy.

I’ve found that all low light plants will benefit from a little morning sun. Eastern exposure windows are a wonderful “catch-all” window in my experience. You can grow “low light” plants very well in this type of exposure, but it also provides the lower end light needed for higher light plants such as succulents. Don’t be shy about giving your plants some direct sun, especially in the wintertime when they need it the most. 

And then there’s watering“¦ Another houseplant care topic I feel passionate about is “overwatering.” The word itself is very misleading and it causes people to be timid about watering their plants. I’ve come across many people that I’ve helped over the years that are scared to water properly. Some people even add a measured amount of water and don’t thoroughly moisten the soil. This leads to a poor root system and plants will suffer as a result.

The proper way to water any plant is to thoroughly moisten all of the soil until water escapes the drainage hole. As a general rule of thumb, allow the top inch or so (2.5 cm.) to dry out before watering again. Some exceptions to this rule include plants like ferns, which prefer to stay consistently moist.  

In the end, plant care should be viewed holistically. You should consider light, watering, soil, temperature, etc. all together in order to have a thriving houseplant in the home.  

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