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How To Grow
Successful House Plants
"If you have the bad habit of killing off your house plants..."


Most people kill their houseplants because of water

Too much water is the #1 killer
Too little water is the #2 killer


Other killers include...

  • little or no fertilizer
  • too much fertilizer (especially liquid)
  • too much sun or light / hours
  • too little sun or light / hours
  • pot is too small


Regarding water, your best strategy is to provide the minimum amount of water that can sustain your plant.

This amount will have to be determined experimentally with each plant you own

For example, if you have too identical plants, but one is in a sunnier area than the other, the sunnier location could very well need more water. It may be only a "little" more water, so be careful

NOTE: Too little water and too much water affect the same appearance, i.e. limp

Some plants, like cactus, will never limp. With such plants, water thoroughly but very infrequently, e.g. once a month may be just right. Thus you should totally soak the soil then leave alone

We have plenty of such plants and they get water about ever 15-20 days. The soil mix is VERY well drained


Food / Fertilizer

Where do people get the notion that plants can live and grow well with no food / fertilizer?

You will marvel at and be delighted with the results you get using fertilizer on your house plants

The only liquid fertilizer I ever use is on African violets. They seem to demand that special food. Liquid fertilizers build up salts rapidly and over time damage or possibly kill your house plants

Every other house plant I own gets time released pellet fertilizer

On the package read for added minor elements (e.g. iron, zinc, magnesium, boron, etc) in the mix

Be generous. Use 1, 2, or 3 tablespoons full on each plant, depending on each pot's size. It would be OK to cover the soil surface with a layer of this fertilizer


Sun and light are not the same thing

Many plants love lots of light, but some are damaged or will die in the direct sun

There is no plant that does not LOVE morning sun from the East

Every plant you buy has come from a professional nursery where the plant has been grown under perfect or near perfect conditions and care. There is a 99% chance that its new location in your home is less than the optimal conditions at the nursery. Therefore, almost every plant will detect the decline in conditions and at first show signs of unhappiness

This is common, so do not panic. It would be nice if you knew if your new plant was a low, medium or high light plant so you could start it off in a well suited location in your home

Do not feed right away. Get your water routine settled first. Once your new plant is perky and happy, make him even more happy with fertilizer

In a house, it is far less likely that a plant wants more shade than it is getting. More light (not sun) is often the cure for complaining plants


If you become a successful house plant grower, from time to time, your plants will outgrow their pots

If you want to continue to own the plant and watch it get even bigger and better, you'll have to re-pot

Go out and buy quality pots (e.g. Italian terra cotta with drainage hole(s) in the bottom) and quality nursery soil. DO NOT EVER buy what is labeled as "potting soil" because the contents are junk. You must buy something labeled "nursery mix" or "pro mix" and the bag must weight as little as possible for its size. Never buy the cheap stuff because it's no good. Expect to pay about $8-$12 for 3 cubic feet of quality soil


Keep your plants clean and pest free

Nature does not recognize the notion of a "house" plant because every plant in nature grows outside...somewhere. In that somewhere, it rains and water washes the plants

In your home, you'll have to be the rain maker but without the rain. Clean your leaves top and bottom with soft wet cloths or paper towels. Don't let the plants get dusty and choked for air

Cleaning both sides of leaves will wash bugs away too. You may use a very mild dish soap solution in your cleaning water

For plants I can move, I water them in a big sink so I can wash their leaves and stems at the same time. You can let them drain off in the sink too before you put them back


  1. Water as little as possible
  2. Feed your plant family
  3. Get the light right
  4. Buy good pots and good soil
  5. Keep your plants clean
  6. Pest and disease control indoors