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Simple Guide to Houseplant Care

Landscape contractor Jenn Nawada takes us to a local nursery to discuss houseplant care with Massachusetts Certified Horticulturist Jennifer Rolo.

Jenn Nawada meets Massachusetts Certified Horticulturist Jennifer Rolo at a local nursery to discuss house plants and how to care for them. The two discuss some plants of varying needs as well as watering, drainage, soil, and more, helping plant owners simplify the burden of plant ownership.

They discuss plant selection, watering needs, and more to simplify caring for these plants.

Houseplants can be a huge investment in both time and money. This is why it’s so important to have a solid grasp of how to take care of them. Landscaping contractor Jenn Nawada and Massachusetts Certified Horticulturist Jennifer Rolo highlight some of the most important tips to simplify houseplant care.

Tip 1: Choose a Plant That’s Right for Your Life

Houseplant happiness is all about managing expectations, and doing so means choosing the right plant for your life.

Low-maintenance plants are great for folks with busy, on-the-go lifestyles. These plants can go long periods (sometimes months) without water and have very low sunlight requirements. In general, they’re not very fussy.

However, for folks that really take houseplants seriously, higher maintenance plants may require more time, as well as high humidity, distilled or rainwater, and specific sunlight requirements. However, for plant enthusiasts, the challenge of maintaining a collection of these plants is a big draw.

Tip 2: Know How To Properly Water Houseplants

Some folks may forget to water their plants, while others may actually water theirs too often. Knowing how to properly water those plants makes a huge difference.

Dig a finger about halfway through the plant’s soil. If the soil around your fingertip is moist, the plant does not need water. However, if the soil is dry, it needs a drink. Also, be sure that the pot drains properly, as plants that sit in water will experience root rot.

Tip 3: Choose the Right Soil

Having the right soil in the pot will help a houseplant thrive. Most foliage-type house plants like an all-purpose potting soil, which is widely available. However, some plants need specialty soils, such as cacti or orchids. For example, orchids require “orchid bark,” which looks nothing like regular soil but will feed the plant the nutrients it needs to produce beautiful blooms.

Tip 4: Don’t Forget Fertilizer

Plant soil can use a boost every now and then, and fertilizer can add nutrients. Most plants do well with an all-purpose liquid indoor fertilizer, but be sure to check your specific plants’ needs.

Fertilize house plants once a month during the growing season, which is usually April through September. It’s okay to reduce fertilizer frequency during the winter and fall.

You can use a pelletized fertilizer, as well. These pellets sit on the top layer of the soil and slowly release nutrients into the soil over the year.

Tip 5: Know When To Repot Your Plant

It’s important to know when to repot a plant, and luckily, they’ll tell you. Look for yellow leaves, dropping leaves, and roots that bind around the pot. These are signs that the plant may need a larger pot.

But don’t go too large. The next step up in pot size should be only an inch or two larger in diameter than the plant’s current pot. Too large a pot will retain more moisture than the plant can use and lead to issues down the road.


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Jenn Nawada and Jennifer Rolo, the Greenhouse Director at Weston Nurseries, offer up tips on caring for houseplants.