Houseplant Tips Series. Part 3 – Don’t Kill with Kindness

This article completes the series for tips on successfully jumping in on the houseplant craze.

By now you’ve picked out your plant, you have a really trendy cachepot, and you know where to set the plant inside your house. Now the only thing left to do is to keep it alive. Easy, right? 🙂

In this article, I’ll give you some tips on how to care for your plant and also how to prevent yourself from caring too much, or as I like to say Killing with Kindness.


The most common cause of death, and the quickest way to certain death, is overwatering your houseplants… The perfect example of Killing with Kindness.

If you are used to gardening and planting flowering container gardens outside your home, you may be tempted to use the same care instructions for your indoor plants. If you happen to do this, you will definitely kill your plants. Indoor plants need much less attention.

Outside your home, the hot, summer sun and wind will dry out your large flower pots daily. Inside your home, the plants are a cozy 72 degrees all year round. Even the bright sun locations inside your home are nothing compared to full sun outdoors. In fact, the shadiest location outside your home gets more indirect light than any room of your house.

All of the above are reasons that your indoor plants will use less water than outdoor plants, but now I’ll just get straight to the point.

Most houseplants like to dry out between watering. Your best bet is to soak the plant deeply and then allow it to dry out over the next 5 to 10 days. Water again when the soil is dry. Not just surface dry, but 2-inches below the soil dry.

Below are a few more watering guidelines to note:

   1. Pot Size – larger pots hold more water. Go easy on ’em!
   2. Vents – If your plant is near a vent it may be thirstier
   3. The brighter the window, the thirstier the plant
   4. Winter – Everything slows down during the cold winter months, plants and people included.
   5. Water with warm water. It soaks in better.

If your soil is very dry, you may need to soak it in the sink. Dry soil sort of repels water and it will escape around the sides of the pot and out the drainage holes!

To Pot or Not to Pot

Most plants do completely fine in their original ‘growing containers’ for at least 12-18 months. At that point, you may need to re-pot to a slightly larger container.

Only increase by up to 3″ diameter for small plants and 6″ diameter for floor plants. Since extra loose soil holds water this will help prevent overwatering.

When you re-pot, it’s OK to remove about 1/3 of the soil and add fresh soil. In fact, your plant will probably like it since, over time, potting soil breaks down and loses some of the tiny air pockets. Roots need air as well as water.

Make sure you have drainage holes! Many indoor pots do not have drainage. If you want to use a pot without drainage, use it as a cachepot. Find out more here.


Remember, houseplants are not as vigorous and needy as the annuals we plant in our outdoor containers. As a general rule of thumb just fertilize in the spring with a light, indoor plant fertilizer. We like Espoma Organic Indoor fertilizer.


Every indoor plant owner should have this product. It’s so easy to use. Just sprinkle Bonide Systemic Granules on the top of the soil every 2 months.

Take Care of your plants, but don’t kill them with kindness!


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