Tips For Indoor Plant Care…

Elvis Elvis

We have plants indoors either because that’s were we want them (obvious) or we are over-wintering them until the weather breaks. Either way, there are basic things to consider for healthy plant care. A good rule of thumb is to try and match the environment the plants are used to as close as possible. Do a little research into what the particular plants in your home are used to and need for a good starting point.

The basics to consider are:

  1. Air Temperature
  2. Humidity
  3. Watering needs
  4. Lighting
  5. Insects & disease

1- Air Temperature: You can have many different temperature swings in the same home depending on where in the plant is placed. Plants next to windows, doors and vents will get drafts and potential colder temperatures than if in the middle of a room. Be aware especially if the plant is tropical in nature. A final note… When leaving town for the weekend you may turn the temperature down to conserve energy. Move plants to parts of the home where they will get more sunlight and warmth.

2- Humidity: Temperature & humidity will drastically affect your plant well being. When temperatures in your home rise above 67 degrees F, the humidity begins to drop dramatically. One way to tell if plants need more humidity is if you have leaf loss or yellowing. Plants can create certain amounts of humidity themselves and the more plants you have in a room the higher the humidity. One way to increase relative humidity is to set your pots in a bed of small pebbles with water. As the water evaporates it will give off humidity. You can also set containers of water in the room and allow the water to evaporate & add moisture to the air.

3- Watering Needs: More houseplants die from over watering than for any other cause. As a result, it is better to keep the plant slightly dry than to over water. Watering needs will vary depending on the season, how dry or humid it is, and the plant type. Plants can sense shorter days and will go dormant, thus requiring much less water. In these periods make sure the soil stays moist to the touch. On the other hand, during periods of active growth thoroughly soak the plant when the soil dries. Final Note: City water is treated with chemicals like chlorine that your plants don’t tolerate well. You might consider allowing the water to sit in an open container for 24 hours prior to its use.

Tips For Indoor Plant Care...

4- Lighting: When your indoor plant is getting insufficient light you’ll usually see pale foliage, lanky growth, and an overall lack of luster. The remedy is to move it to more light near a window or to artificially introduce light with lamps. If moving your plant from a lower light condition to a higher light condition do it as gradually as possible. The reason is that it has become tender from lack of light and will sunburn if moved too abruptly.

Tips For Indoor Plant Care...

5- Insects: There is always the possibility of insects invading your plants whether inside or outside. Insects most likely to be encountered indoors include mites, thrips, whitefly, aphids, scales, and mealybugs. These can be avoided by following a few preventative measures:

  • Use sterile potting soil
  • Use clean pots & planters
  • Promptly remove dead flowers or leaves
  • Examine your plants regularly to look for troubles

If you catch pest early enough you can remove them by hand and wash the plants leaves with soap and water. Another option is to use insecticides. If you choose this option read the directions to insure proper usage.

To ensure healthy houseplants some additional problems to keep a lookout for include:

Flower buds drop before opening: This could be a result of:

  • Lack of humidity
  • Drafts
  • Temperature fluctuations

The entire plant has wilted: This can be caused by:

  • Too much fertilizer
  • Too little water
  • Too much water
  • Exposed to cold temperatures

Rapid defoliation: This can be caused by:

  • Over watering
  • Under watering
  • Rapid changes in temperature
  • Rapid changes in light
  • Exposure to drafts

Stunted plants: This can be a result of:

  • Excess fertilizer
  • lack of water
  • over watering

Browning of leaf tips or leaf margins: This can be caused by:

  • Lack of humidity
  • Fertilizer burn
  • Poor water quality
  • Incorrect fertilizer
  • Spray damage (insecticides for example)
  • Incorrect soil pH or pollutants in the air

Tiny white spots on leaves: This can be a result of:

  • Primarily spider mites

Cottony masses on stems, round or oval shaped bumps:

  • Mealy bugs

Sticky spots on foliage:

  • Primarily aphids

Small brown bumps on stems or foliage:

  • Scale insects

Fuzzy, grey mould that covers flowers, leaves and stems:

  • Fungal disease
  • Too much humidity
  • Poor ventilation

General drooping of the entire plant:

  • Crown, stem or root rot

Brown or yellow leaf spots:

  • Fungi
  • Cold water


  • Powdery mildew

Leaf edges brown and dried:

  • Too much heat
  • Lack of humidity

Failure of blooming plants to flower:

  • Insufficient water or light
  • Over fertilizing

Silver or red blotches on foliage:

  • Too much direct sun

Gradual defoliation (lower leaves yellow and fall):

  • Over watering
  • Under watering
  • Lack of sufficient light
  • Lack of fertilizer

New Growth Wilted, or burned:

  • Too much fertilizer
  • Cold drafts
  • Hot drafts,
  • Too dry
  • Too warm
  • Freeze damage

Spotted foliage:

  • Over watering
  • Burn from direct sun
  • Cold water on foliage
  • Fungal infection
  • Pollutants in the air

Foliage is pale and weak looking:

  • Insufficient light conditions
  • Too dry
  • Lack of fertilizer

New foliage is small, pale, and spindly:

  • Lack of light
  • Lack of fertilizer
  • Soil too dry

Leaves yellowed between veins (veins remain green):

  • pH either too high or too low
  • Iron deficiency (high pH)
  • Magnesium deficiency

Leaves drop continuously, new leaves on tip are small and curled:

  • Unburned gasses in the air
  • Spray or vapor damage
  • Industrial pollution
  • Possible aphid or mite damage