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5 Must Haves for the Houseplant Gardener

Category: How-To Projects, Plant Ideas & Info, Presenting "The Curious Gardener", Tools & Techniques

We’re all houseplant gardeners at this time of year. Some of our houseplants are outdoor plants during the warmer months and they’re brought indoors when the weather turns frosty or just plain chilly, and some seem happiest indoors all year long. I keep my clivia miniata indoors year round because the one time I put it outdoors on a hot sunny day the leaves got burned and discolored. For the same reason I keep my fiddle leaf fig tree and my jade plant indoors. And of course my African violets. My agaves and euphorbias in pots go outdoors in the summer then come back indoors when it gets cool.

5 Must Haves for the Houseplant Gardener:

Water Mister

Many houseplants come from tropical climates and they thrive on moisture in the air (65% humidity).  They do not do well with the level of humidity that is typical of our homes in winter (30-40%). Get a simple spray bottle or a fancy mister and spray the leaves of your plant every day. A friend has a rosemary plant (notoriously difficult to keep thriving indoors) and she says her daily misting is what keeps her 4′ tall plant going strong in her Vermont home.

Watering can with a long thin nozzle

Although overwatering is one of the leading causes of death in houseplants, some watering is necessary. Use a watering device with a long nozzle so you can get into hard to reach places and you know you’re getting the water directly to the soil not to the leaves and flowers. I keep one of our Womanswork Eco Spouts next to every plant grouping so I can water whenever I think it’s necessary.

Insecticidal soap

Houseplants are prone to disease when growing indoors. Try mixing up a tablespoon of liquid dish soap with a quart of water in a spray bottle. If you see evidence of disease, coat the leaves on both sides with your spray. The spray has to come in contact with the insects to work. Read more here.

Grow Light

Your houseplants are more likely to thrive indoors if you can simulate outdoor light for them, especially those plants like my agaves and other cactus that spend their summers outdoors. A grow light will simulate natural full spectrum sunlight indoors.  Smaller plants can be placed on a counter or desk under a grow light. Give your larger plants the priority position next to a window. Read more about grow lights here.

Scissors or Shears

It is inevitable that there will be leaves that need to be trimmed off when they turn brown or show signs of disease. Be sure to have a trusty pair of scissors or garden shears handy for this task!


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