Figuring out what your indoor garden needs can seem more enigmatic to well-intentioned plant parents than understanding a text message from a fickle crush. The good news is that as long as you remember these four straightforward guidelines, plants are actually incredibly simple to maintain.


Recognize that you occasionally forget to water your plants. All of us do. The truth is that most plants require watering once a week. If you forget to water something, certain species are more understanding, while others will promptly punish you.

This rule has a lot of variations. For instance, if your cactus is six feet tall, you might be able to go months without watering it. Every two weeks or so, snake plants and zanzibar jewels need to be watered. But generally speaking, plants prefer to be visited at least once every week. Being a good plant parent doesn’t need you to spend all of your leisure time in your indoor garden. If you only have a few plants, they shouldn’t require more than 15 minutes of care per week in optimum lighting circumstances.

Plant parents can occasionally go too far and harm their own plants because they care for them too much. The most terrible cause of mortality is, by far, being overmothered. The fact is that houseplants make simple pets. You’re going too far if you find yourself watering your plants every day.

Poor Watering Technique 

Overwatering: One of the main reasons indoor plants die is from being overwatered. The plant will photosynthesize slowly because illumination in a home is never as good as it is in a greenhouse. Constant watering prevents the plant from having a chance to take up water through the leaves. This can quickly result in bugs, mold, bacteria, fading foliage, and root rot.

On the other hand, it’s very simple to drown your plants by either skipping a watering or giving them too little water when you do. Consider placing one-third of water in the pot of your plant to give you an idea.

That’s a reliable estimate of its carrying capacity (but you should always research your plant to make sure). As an illustration, I water a five-foot fiddle leaf fig tree every seven to ten days. When I do, I pour the full contents of a wine bottle—sometimes more if it’s been extremely sunny or dry out—into the soil.

putting the plant in a container without a drainage hole: Plants are sent to greenhouses in growers pots made of plastic that have numerous drainage holes at the bottom. Many people transfer their plants as soon as they come home into attractive pots (without a drainage hole at the bottom) because they believe these pots are terrible for their plants.

Without drainage, water in pots has nowhere to go after a watering. This method of potting compromises the general health of the roots by decreasing root oxygenation. Always have a drainage hole in your pot unless you’re an expert. Personally, I maintain every plant in its original plastic grower pot before putting it inside a decorative pot.

I know I just told you that most plants require watering about once per week, but nonetheless. I urge you not to follow anyone’s advice until you have examined the soil. It’s assumed that you have ideal illumination for reading care instructions. However, the main factor influencing how quickly the liquid in the soil will absorb is how much sunshine your plants receive.

Before feeding it, you must check the soil’s moisture level. It’s not ready for further water and may have been overwatered if the top inch of soil feels moist to the touch after your most recent watering. No plant enjoys being very damp for a long time. Some like constant moisture, complete evaporation, or partial evaporation between waterings. The ideal guiding principle? To determine the soil’s moisture content, stick your finger into it.

Using ice-cold water: Plants like water that is at normal temperature. Using ice cold water straight from the faucet might shock the roots. Filling your watering cans the night before you water is a smart tip.

Failure to evenly water the soil: It’s crucial to water the soil equally to maintain air flow in the soil and around the roots and to remove any chlorine or bacterial buildups. This can be accomplished by slowly pouring water over every square inch of the plant while watering it from the top. You can also submerge your pot in a larger bowl of water if it has a drainage hole, which it should have.

Through the perforations in the pot, the plant will absorb water from the bottom. After an hour or two, if there is still water in the container, make sure to dump it out so that the roots don’t sit in water for a long period.

Lack of Light 

Most plants need direct or brilliant indirect light, unless you have a low light plant (I created a thorough list of my favorites).

Uncertain about how to interpret your light source? I made a detailed guide, but this is the gist of it: Desert plants such as cacti and succulents prefer direct sunshine. This indicates that there are no obstructions to the light source, which is likely in a south- or west-facing window and they receive direct sunlight (the sun rays fall directly on the plants for at least six hours a day). Tropical plants typically like direct, bright light. This indicates that even though the plants are in a bright space, the light is filtered.

For instance, the roof of a greenhouse is lined with thin cloth while tropical plants are growing there to keep them safe.

If your room is especially gloomy and the plant needs bright, indirect light, it won’t survive there. Plant placement should not be dictated by your interior sensibility, despite the fact that plants are unquestionably lovely design elements. The succulent may seem beautiful on your end table, but it really wants to be on the window sill. Except if you wish to change your plants every few months, there is no opportunity for compromise in this situation.

Because you failed to look into the needs of the species, plants perish.

Except for airplants and a few other types, all plants require soil, water, light, and air to survive. The amount you should give each plant will vary depending on the species. While the purpose of this post is to provide you with a basic understanding so you can troubleshoot, it’s crucial to conduct your own study to determine what your plant prefers. Does it prefer direct or dim light? Would it want the soil to be consistently moist or completely dry out in between waterings? My advice is to type the plant’s name into Google, such as “pothos plant care” or “pothos houseplant 411,” and then follow the instructions.


Gregory J. Taylor

Catherine Potvin

Jean Bloom 

Vincenzo De Luca

Brian pH.D