Tips on Growing and Caring for Houseplants Healthy

There are very few reasons why houseplants do not grow and thrive as they should. Once the cause of the trouble is found it is easy to overcome.

Plants need light, water, and nutrients for growth and to be kept free of pests to be healthy. If a plant is not growing as it should, a close examination of the plant will easily identify the cause and the remedy can be very simple. Lush, healthy plants can be very useful for interior decorating.

Effects of too Much or Lack of Light


Different plants require varying amounts of light. In general, the foliage plants can survive with considerably less light than flowering plants.

Plants in a home seldom get an overdose of light. However if a plant is placed too close to a window the glass can intensify the heat and cause tender leaves to burn. If the plant is in a semi-open area like a patio, then rays of direct sunlight can also cause some damage. If sun-damage is noticed, then the remedy is as simple as moving the plant to a location away from direct sunlight and heat.

The more common problem is lack of light. If the plants are getting too little light, they may not show any ill effects in the short term and will continue to produce new growth by using stored energy. However, if light is insufficient for longer periods of time, new stems become spindly and the foliage gradually become yellow-green and eventually the plant dies. If the plant is starved of light, place the plant in a position to get filtered sunlight or install artificial light to compensate.

Plants Need Water to Thrive

watering houseplant

While plants need water for growth, too much water can have a detrimental effect. When a potted plant starts to lose its base leaves it is an indication of over-watering. Even if the plant is producing newer leaves at the top, over time it will look bare of foliage. If the pot is water-logged the plant will need to be re-potted in a spongy soil mixture and watered less frequently.

A wilted plant indicates insufficient water and the addition of water will restore the plant. Whilst under-watering seldom causes serious damage, if it occurs frequently then the growth of the plant is stunted.

In addition to water, moisture in the air is also necessary for some plants. Leaf tips turning brown is a good indication of lack of humidity over a period of time. This can be overcome either by using a air humidifier or simply by spraying the area around the plant with a soft mist of water occasionally.

Food for Plants

houseplant potting soil

Plants manufacture their food from the air and the soil in which they grow by a process called photosynthesis, using light as the energy source. Indoor plants need a helping hand with the addition of fertilizers that supply essential minerals. When a plant has leaves that are smaller than normal and sometimes lighter in colour it is a good indication that it is getting insufficient food. Depending on the plant, whether foliage or flowering, a nursery will be able to recommend the best type of fertilizer for it.

Too much fertilizer in a potted plant will cause the roots of the plant to burn and cause the plant to wilt. If this happens the easiest way around would be to repot the plant in fresh potting mix and go easy on the fertilizer.

One thing to remember is that not all wilting or slow growth plants need fertilizer, it could be lack of light or water. Eliminate these conditions first before adding fertilizer.

Pest and Diseases Attacking Plants

Hibiscus with white fly infestation

Plants bought from a reputable nursery and grown indoors rarely have pests or diseases. The only disease that may occur is caused by a soil-borne rot-producing organism and is called ‘stem rot’ which is basically the stems of the plant becoming soft and slimy. There is no effective cure for this condition. Therefore, the plant should be destroyed and the soil discarded never to be used again.

In the unlikely event of insects on leaves or flowers, the sprays used on outdoor garden plants can be used indoors if the manufacturers recommend it. Another simple way, if it is practical, is to clean the leaves under a running tap. This may only be possible for large foliage plants.

When an indoor plant is not growing and thriving as it should, finding out if the plant is getting sufficient light, water, food and is free of pests or diseases and taking the necessary action can restore the plant.


About the Author

With the endless passion for organic living, I - Ann Sanders has come up with the idea of creating A Green Hand. Being the founder and editor of A Green Hand, my goal is to provide everyone with a wide range of tips about healthy lifestyle with multiform categories including gardening, health & beauty, food recipe,...

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