How to Grow Indoor Plants: Tips from Real Gardeners

Plant parents share their best advice on how to grow indoor plants with their tried-and-true tricks for healthy houseplant care.

Water Indoor Plants With Ice Cubes

how to grow indoor plantsvia
Follow these tips to grow indoor plants, such as a spider plant.

Proper watering is an essential step in knowing how to grow indoor plants. “When my inside potted plants are dry, I put ice cubes on top of the soil to slowly melt and water the plant without flooding the pot,” says Lisa Sherman of Carlsbad, California. “It’s easy, there’s no mess, and I’m less likely to overwater this way.” Check out these easy plant waterer products we love.

Use The “10-10-10” Rule

Most houseplants do fine with a balanced fertilizer (10-10-10). Limit or stop fertilizing your indoor houseplants in winter and start feeding them again in spring. As always, follow the directions on your specific package.

Check out the top 10 best houseplants for beginners to grow.

Choose Small Houseplants for Small Spaces

how to grow indoor plants, Small zebra haworthia succulent in clay potTim M Lanthier/Getty Images
A small haworthia succulent will fit in even the tiniest space.

If you’re tight on space, most 3-inch pots fit on even the narrowest window sills. Peperomia and small cactuses and succulents can both happily grow in containers that size.

Find out how often to water succulents.

Use Rainwater

Sharon Woodworth of Georgetown, Kentucky, says, “Collect rainwater and use it on your houseplants. I’ve been doing it for years!”

We asked the experts: Why does my plant have brown tips on the leaves?

Check Soil Before Watering

how to grow indoor plants, Succulent Plant On Stairs Outdoor In The Front Yard
Make sure you don’t overwater your succulents and other indoor houseplants.

Sometimes it’s tricky to gauge when a plant needs moisture. Louis McVay of Waleska, Georgia suggests gardeners “always check with a moisture meter before watering.”

Follow these tips for watering container gardens.

Give Indoor Plants Extra Sun

“Move houseplants outside in summer. They love rain, heat and humidity. Bring them in before the first frost and spray any insects with an organic insecticide to prevent the bugs from moving into your home,” says Lynn Jones of Salem, Indiana.

Use Lights Right

When using artificial lights, the tips of the plants should be 6 to 12 inches from the light source to ensure the plant is receiving maximum benefits.

Check out the best houseplants for low light.

Boost Humidity (as Necessary) for Houseplant Care

Ideal humidity for tropical houseplants is around 50%. If your home is drier, set your plants on a gravel tray filled with water.

Be Precise With Transplants

houseplant collectionVia Merchant
Make sure you place indoor plants into the right size container.

When transplanting a houseplant to a larger pot, an increase of 2 inches in container size is ideal, unless your plant is very large.

Provide Extra Nutrients

Sandy Lewis of Akron, Ohio, waters her houseplants with water she has boiled eggs in. She says, “It works better for me than any commercial plant food!”

Here’s why your indoor plant has yellow leaves.

Rotate Plants

To help maintain a symmetrical shape, give houseplants a quarter-turn occasionally, maybe even every time you water if it helps you to remember.

No green thumb? Try the top 10 hard to kill houseplants.

Kick Mildew to the Curb

“I read that sprinkling the dirt with cinnamon prevents powdery mildew, so I gave it a shot—it worked!” says Jeanine Buettner of Kalispell, Montana. She adds, “I no longer have a problem with the disease!”

Now that you know how to grow indoor plants, learn how to prevent and cure mold on houseplant soil.

Eva Monheim
Eva Monheim is a horticultural and environmental consultant, garden coach, and an award winning educator. She is a faculty member at Longwood Gardens for the Professional Horticulture Program and Continuing Education Department where she teaches Woody Plants and related subjects. Monheim’s newest endeavors are the award winning The Plant a Trillion Trees Podcast. She is the author of Shrubs & Hedges: Discover, Grow, and Care for the World’s Most Popular Plants, which was nominated by The Council on Botanical & Horticultural Libraries for outstanding contributions to the literature of horticulture. She is co-principal of Verdant Earth Educators, LLC (VEE) a company that trains professionals and consumers in the green industry.