Happy and sad houseplant graphic

Chicago Home and Lifestyles – Keep your houseplants healthy

Happy and sad houseplant graphic

Are you noticing that your houseplants are not looking too perky? Do they have yellow leaves or brown spots? Do they seem like they aren’t thriving? There are several things here that could be causing your problems. Here are the main four things that could be affecting your plants’ health:

Proper light. We think that most plants need a lot of sun to thrive, but this is not necessarily true. Know the proper names of your plants so you can assess the proper light for them. Do you see brown spots? Likely the plant is getting too much light. Try moving it to a spot where the light is indirect. This will likely take care of the problem. Trim the plant to remove the spots. On the other hand, if you notice a plant that seems relatively healthy but growth seems slow, you may need more light. I had a plant that was languishing in a somewhat dim corner in my living room for years before I realized it needed more light. I moved it to an east facing window and it took off immediately! Light is one of the most important aspects of plant care.

Water is the next thing that can cause problems. In the water category, overwatering is usually more problematic than underwatering. Water your plant when the soil is dry, two inches down. Is it a small plant in a four-inch pot? You might need to water these twice a week. A twelve-inch floor pot probably can go 10 days to two weeks before watering. Again, know your plant and its needs. Some plants will like to be watered from the bottom, so fill the bottom tray with water and the plant will take it up.

Humidity can also be a concern, especially in the winter when indoor heat reduces the humidity in the air. Misting with a spray bottle works well for most plants, but some like African Violets don’t like water on their leaves and it can cause spots. Any plant with fuzzy leaves should not be misted! Placing a large tray filled with water and pebbles will give you more humidity on a steadier basis than misting. The pebbles will keep the plant pot bottoms out of the water so be sure to not completely cover with water!

Fertilizing should be done carefully. Plants will require different levels or types of fertilizer. We are so lucky now to have the internet. All the information we need is at the tip of our fingers. I have been able to find any information I need just by googling the plant name. 

There are also apps that you can take a photo of your ailing plant and they will tell you what to do!

Kathleen Weaver-Zech and Dean’s Team Chicago