How to grow healthy House plants

It's easy, just don't kill them !

I am always surprised by the amount of people I talk to who say, "mate, I can't grow house plants, they just die on me".

It surprises me because I can grow them and I'm no expert. I need to make that real clear up front, I am not a qualified plant person or gardener. I have just learnt over time and from my own mistakes and also from Pete, who is the house plant Master!. When I first meet him his house was full of beautiful green plants and lots of cane furniture......yes it was a while ago, decades in fact.

So anyway back to plants…. I thought that I`d share what I have learnt about growing beautiful, healthy (most of the time) house plants.

Ok, so to start with, I would just say that you have to actually look after house plants, unlike outside plants, you can't just plant them and leave them. So you have to commit, if you are willing to commit then the rest is easy.

 

My House Plants

Watering and Feeding - Routine Routine Routine

Be consistent, have a routine. I find this helps to maintain steady growth and constant level of moisture in the soil.

Most common house plants are good with weekly watering. I water mine on a Saturday morning and feed them about once a month. I have always used Baby Bio Original House Plant Food, it's a classic and available everywhere.

If you are not sure how often to water, track it in a diary/calendar noting any changes to leaves and soil, you should be able to establish a good routine from doing that.

Do not over water, this will rot the roots. If you notice water pooled on the saucer and leaves changing colour, it may be too much watering. Also, the potting mix will start to smell. This happened to me with this plant.

House Plant
House Plant

You can still see some of the marks on the leaves. The leaves were like that all over. It only needs a very small amount  of water, so I only water this one once a fortnight.

Placement

Most indoor plants that I have thrive in partial sun or indirect light, some like the 'Peace Lily' are great in bathrooms and other lower light areas. Avoid drafty spots, and direct sunlight. Plants are pretty good at telling you that they are not happy, just watch for changes in leaf colour, die off of the new growth, and wilting. You may need to move some around different spots until you find the right one.

Buy Small - Grow Big

I always buy my plants when they are babies. This is done because I like to raise the plant in the environment I want them to be in...and well it's a lot cheaper. Any garden centre should have a good selection of baby plants as they are grown from cuttings. I have found that Bunnings have a good selection of healthy house plants.

If you do this you must regularly upgrade into bigger pots as it helps with growth and they will not get root bound in the pot.

Re potting house plants
Re potting house plants

Use good quality potting mix, this does not have to be the most expensive. All garden centres will be happy to recommend and often have their own name brand. I just use the name brand at Mitre 10 and have had no issues with this.

Turning the Pots

Ok so I am not sure if this is normal but I always turn my pots every time I water the plant. I find that you get even growth as they will always grow to the light. This is a good example. As an aside this plant produces beautiful yellow flowers, its a Calathea or Peacock plant.

House plant with even growth
House plant with even growth

Top plants list

To help you on your way, here are a list of plants that I have and are actually pretty easy to look after. These are also very popular plants so would be easily sourced from your local garden centre.

  • Peace Lily
  • Spider fern
  • Bamboo plant
  • Begonias
  • Split leaf Philodendron
  • Calathea or Peacock Plant
  • Dieffenbachia or Leopard Lily
  • Chlorophytum or Spider Plant
  • Blechnum or Silver lady Fern
  • Pellea Rotundifolia or Button Fern
  • Succulents

And photo below to show you some of them in our house

I cannot finish this blog without talking about Orchids.  To be honest, I adore them. I only started to like them when we moved to Auckland. I have a few around the house and they are just so beautiful. They are not hard to grow and they bloom forever. There are some key tips you do need to know with Orchids. Beth, my friend gave me this great website which will help you on your way.

Orchid flower

As a tip, I buy my Orchids when the garden centres mark them down which is normally at end of flowering. If you are happy to repot and "prune" them it's a great way to buy a few at a time. You do need patience as it will take months for the new growth and flowers to arrive.

I really hope that you enjoyed this blog and that it may inspire you to have a go at growing some house plants.

Ohh yeah forgot to mention, a wee bonus is that they are really good air filters.........ah Pete!! you know what I'm talking about.

Hugs and smiles

Tania