Life-Saving Indoor Plant Resolutions

I've been told confession is good for the soul. So, I'll admit I've made (and broken) New Year's resolutions at one time or another. The gym three times a week. Actually, I've never even considered that one. The low-carb, no sugar diet. Uh-huh. What about resolutions that will ensure great results with your houseplants? No, it's not one you ever hear, is it? Here are some resolutions to consider as you are inspired to make healthy choices in 2020.

Resolution #1 

Do not put an indoor plant requiring high light (like a Ficus) in a north window and then be shocked when it drops its leaves. 

Instead, get a plant that matches your spaces light conditions to dramatically increasing the plant's chances for survival. For those really low light areas in your home or office, consider: Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema), Peace lily (Spathiphyllum), Snake Plant, Palms and the ZZ plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia).

Resolution #2 

Water properly at intervals that are appropriate for the plant's specific needs. 

Watering once a week is not a universally correct answer to the question, "How often should I water?" This means applying warm water evenly around the soil until water runs out the bottom of the container. After 30 minutes, empty all remaining water from the saucer. This will prevent the excess water from cutting off vital oxygen to roots and killing them. If you think it's time to water, aren't not sure, wait another day or two to be safe.

Resolution #3 

Try new ways to increase indoor humidity rather than just misting leaves with a spray bottle. 

More long term solutions would be: using the "buddy system" of grouping your plants together. As they give off water through their leaves (transpiration) they increase humidity around each other. Another solution would be to place plants on pebble-filled trays with water just below the pebble surface for evaporation. The bottoms of the pots should sit above the water, not in it, so they don't wick water into the soil. 

Resolution #4 

Do not fertilize year 'round if you don't see new growth. Rather, fertilize when spring rolls around or when you see your plants actively producing bright green young leaves and/or new flower buds. The more light the plants receive, the more frequently you can fertilize them.

If your plants are in low light sites (north windows) do not fertilize at all November - March when our day length and light intensity are so low that plants tend to "rest". Also, make sure to use houseplant-specific fertilizers at the recommended rate.

Resolution #5 

Repot based on visible need.

Check the root balls, looking for 40% or more roots in the soil mass before considering up-potting. Most indoor plants perform just fine when somewhat pot-bound. If it's determined that you need to move them to a larger pot, increase the pot diameter in small increments, say, an inch at a time. Do not jump 2" or more in diameter at a time.

Cheers to a 2020 of healthier more beautiful houseplants!

Tony Fulmer

Chief Horticulture Officer