Removing dead leaves from a fatsia

Houseplant care guide

Grow thriving, healthy houseplants with the help of these care tips.

Houseplants bring interest to the home and can improve the quality of the air you breathe, too. What’s more, most of them are evergreen, providing interest throughout winter, when there’s less to see outdoors.

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There’s a wide range of houseplants to choose from, including large shrubs with big leaves, to smaller specimens, and flowering plants, too.

Houseplants don’t require as much attention as you might think, but it’s worth paying attention to a few care tips, to keep them growing well.

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Check out our need-to-know houseplant care advice.


Dust the leaves

Cleaning houseplant leaves
Cleaning houseplant leaves

It’s important to remove dust from houseplant leaves. Not only does dusting improve the appearance of houseplants, but it helps with photosynthesis, too. Gently rub leaves with a damp cloth, supporting them from below to prevent tearing. Alternatively, pop your dusty plants in the shower and spray them with lukewarm water.


Use leaf shine

Spraying a fiddle-leaf fig with leaf shine spray
Spraying a fiddle-leaf fig with leaf shine spray

Some gardeners are against using leaf shine sprays, arguing that it makes plants look artificial. But using leaf shine can be a fast, effective way to clean and spruce up houseplants.


Remove dead and browning leaves

Removing dead leaves from a fatsia
Removing dead leaves from a fatsia

Removing dead and brown leaves is imperative as they can ruin the look and shape of a houseplant, as well as harbour pests and disease. Simply cut out damaged leaves using secateurs or sharp scissors, cutting just above a leaf point. You can usually remove dead leaves with a gentle tug.


Feed your plants

Mixing a liquid feed
Mixing a liquid feed

If you don’t feed your houseplants, they won’t thrive. Start feeding regularly, around three months after you’ve planted them, as the nutrients present in the compost start to deplete after this time. Use a liquid feed diluted in water, following the instructions on the bottle. Most houseplants don’t need feeding more than once every one to three months, between March and September.


Water regularly

Watering a clusia
Watering a clusia

More houseplants die from overwatering than any other cause, so it’s important to know when and how to keep your plants hydrated. Over-watered plants effectively die from suffocation, as the compost becomes so wet the roots can’t absorb oxygen. You can water your houseplants by using a watering can to drench the compost from above, or by filling a saucer placed beneath the pot, so the water gradually percolates up through the compost. Check the care label on your plant to find out how much water is needed, and how frequently you should apply it. If in doubt, wait for the leaves to wilt before you water – this is usually easy to remedy, whereas damage to the roots from overwatering usually isn’t.


Mist the leaves

Misting a moth orchid
Misting a moth orchid
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Regulary misting the leaves of your houseplants raises the humidity around them. Arranging potted houseplants in groups also increases humidity, which is beneficial as it mimics their natural growing conditions.