Getting Started with Houseplants

Published On: December 21st, 2023


Want to get started with growing houseplants, but not sure how to start? Let us help you get off to a successful start!

Start with the right container

The most common cause of houseplant mortality is root rot, caused by excess water around the roots of the plant. To avoid this, you’ll want to make sure that your container has a drainage hole and is not too large for your plant. We recommend planting your houseplant in a container no more than 1” larger in diameter than the current container it is in. Even if you know that eventually your plant will become large, it is important to up-pot incrementally over time rather than placing a small root mass in a very large pot. Having a small plant in a large pot increases the risk for root-rot as moisture tends to accumulate in the excess soil.


Make sure that your container has a drainage hole

Use the right “soil”

Any quality bagged potting medium that is labeled for container plants should be fine for your houseplants. Notice I used the term “potting medium” rather than “soil”. The lightweight, fast draining mixes that are ideal for growing houseplants and other container plants are not technically soil but are rather peat-based mixes specifically blended to promote healthy plant growth. Never use any bagged soil labeled as “Garden Soil” for your houseplants as it will be far too heavy and will discourage root growth and increase chances for root rot.

Crushed stone, broken pots, etc. that have historically been added as drainage material in the bottom of the pot do nothing but take up valuable space that could be devoted to quality growing medium that would allow roots to grow in a larger area. These materials at the bottom of the pot can also shift over time and have the potential to block the drainage hole, again promoting root rot.

When to water

There is no hard & fast rule for how frequently to water houseplants. Frequency will depend upon the type of plant as well as the growing environment. A Snake Plant growing in a cool room, away from a window, may need water only once a month. At the same time, a Peace Lily growing in a sunny spot near a radiator grate might need water twice a week. Remember that overwatering is the #1 cause of houseplant failure! So…it is better to err on the side of too little water than too much until you begin to know your houseplants and understand their individual needs.

When to fertilize

We recommend fertilizing houseplants in our climate from April through September. This is the period of time when the plants are actively growing. During our winter months there is so little natural light that our houseplants go into a period of slowed growth during which they will not require supplemental nutrients. Soluble fertilizers formulated for houseplants (such as Jack’s Houseplant Special) can be applied every couple of weeks during the growing season, or a slow-release granular fertilizer (such as ClassiCote) can be applied every couple of months.

Start with easy-care plants!

Start your houseplant journey with easy-care plants! Click here for our recommendations.


By Zannah Crowe