Houseplants Care 101 – Right Plants and Requirements

Last Updated on April 11, 2024 by Real Men Sow

House plants are a great way to bring the outdoors in. They add an extra visual appeal to any space and create a feeling of calm and freshness. Houseplants can purify the air around them, a great example of freshness. Photosynthesis increases oxygen levels in the room, and phytoremediation reduces harmful pollutants.

Houseplants are something that everyone can enjoy. There are houseplants for every space, no matter how small or large, urban or rural, brightly lit or darkly lit. You just need to choose the right type for you. 

Choosing The Right Plants

Plant shopping is the best thing to do when you are out. If you see a green beauty that catches your attention, take the time to learn more about her needs before you bring her home. 

Bring out your phone and do a quick Google search. Do they like direct sunlight? Do you prefer low indirect light? Plenty of water? Too little? Ambient warm temperatures with no cold drafts Humidity or dry conditions? How big will it grow? These things will help determine the type of soil and container you should use. You should choose plants that will work well in your space and are easy to manage.

Low-Maintenance Houseplants

Snake plants (Sansevieria), Pothos, Monstera, Dieffenbachia and Philodendrons are the most manageable. Cacti can also be grown as succulents such as jade or aloe. You’ll discover what houseplants you like and what you can offer.

Edible houseplants

You can also grow food inside, in addition to the ornamental house plants mentioned above. It is a popular option to grow culinary herbs in your kitchen window. Basil is a great container-friendly and easy-to-grow option for this. Here are some tips to help you grow bushy basil indoors or outdoors.

Potted dwarf citrus trees can be grown indoors if you have enough space. Most dwarf fruit trees can be grown indoors, although their ability to produce fruit will vary depending on whether they are self-fertile or require cross pollination. You can also grow microgreens and sprouts indoors.

Light Requirements

Full Sun or Bright Direct Light

The sun’s rays directly hit the plant for most of the day. Bright direct sunlight would be provided to a plant placed on a sunny windowsill, particularly if it is south-facing. Most houseplants are not fond of the direct sun’s heat. Window panes can increase heat and light, which can lead to sunburn and yellowing.

Cacti and succulents are two examples of plants that thrive in bright, direct sunlight. Some plants, such as those listed below, can tolerate direct sunlight for short periods of durations of time or in the morning. Even though plants can survive direct sunlight, they may not look their best. The perfect example is the staghorn fern, which turns yellow and gets sunburned slightly. 

Bright Indirect Light

This is the light most houseplants thrive in. This location should be in a well-lit area with skylights, windows or doors, but not too much direct sunlight.

Bright indirect light is a favorite for plants like Monstera, Ficus (including Weeping Ficus and Fiddle Leaf Figs), Alocasia (Elephant Ear), Spider Plants and Parlor Palm. Prayer Plants are also a favorite. They will tolerate moderate light but might not be as happy in low light.

Moderate to Low Light houseplants

Don’t despair if your apartment, house, or room has low light. Many houseplants can live in low light conditions. A room should have a window that faces north or small enough to allow for sufficient natural light.

Sansevieria (Snake Plant), Pothos, Devils Ivy), Dieffenbachia and Ivy are some examples of low-to-medium-light loving plants that are simple to care for. Pothos, snake plants and philodendrons all thrive in low light conditions. 

Accommodating the Plants’ Light Requirements

Maximizing Light

There are many ways to increase the amount of natural light your houseplants get. One way is to hang them in front of a window that doesn’t receive direct sunlight, such as one that overlooks an enclosed porch. Open-concept shelving is preferred to traditional bookcases by many plant lovers. Mirrors and light-colored paint can also be used to increase light levels in rooms.

Artificial Light

Artificial light can be supplemented if there isn’t enough natural light. The best place to grow houseplants is in an office environment with plenty of fluorescent lighting, but not near windows. You can apply the same principle to your home. To keep your plants happy, you could purchase a few grow lights.

Common household incandescent bulbs don’t work well for fueling plants. You will need fluorescents or LEDs instead. These fluorescent grow lights are used to lighten our seedlings. They can be attached to the underside or back of a shelf. It is important to avoid the use of LEDs that emit pink light. You can also find modern, flexible LED light options that are more like sunlight and easier on your eyes like this one.

Grow lights should be turned on for between 8-12 hours per day to mimic natural daylight. You can go even further and get some seriously cool light shelving units for houseplants or seedlings.

Container & Pot Requirements


Some pots have drainage holes and an attached drip pan. Some pots may require a separate saucer. You can use a simple plastic or old plate to make this work, or you could go for a matching ceramic one. To protect your furniture and surface, place pots and trays on large cork coasters.

There are a few things you can do if you’re looking for a cute pot you love but don’t have a drainage hole. You can plant your houseplant inside a smaller container that has drainage holes and then nest it in the larger one. To support the inner pot, use rocks or another clever insert. This will create a drainage hole below that allows for water to drain. As soon as the water has dried, drain it. This same principle applies to pots with drainage holes or drip trays that are placed inside decorative baskets.

You can also make a drainage hole in your container. To modify and add holes to some of our pots, use a ceramic drill bit.


The pot your houseplant is placed in will determine how big it can grow. Restricted roots can cause restricted foliar growth. It is not a problem for the average small houseplant. Some houseplants are less affected by smaller containers. Our pothos vines, for example, can grow to a very long length in a small pot.

Keep this in mind if your goal is to help your monstera, fiddle-leaf fig, elephant ear or rubber tree grow to great heights. As your plant grows, it is best to pot up your plant in slightly larger containers each year. This will give your roots more space and allow the plant to achieve its full potential. Learn more about potting up.

A larger pot allows for better growth. However, a larger pot also has the added benefit of better moisture retention. Some plants, however, love water. Alocasia, also known as the large Elephant Ears or Alocasia is one example of such a plant. It’s best to plant them in larger containers to avoid them needing water more often than once per week. Higher soil levels mean higher water holding capacity.


It is important to transfer your houseplant baby into a larger pot when it comes to planting it. This can be done either as a first care or later. You can increase the size of your plant slowly.

Soil Requirements

You should not pot your houseplants using soil from your garden. This soil may not be the best for houseplants and could also contain pests or pathogens you don’t want to bring inside.

Use a bagged potting mix or one specifically designed for container gardening. It should be light and fluffy, well-draining and contain perlite or pumice. Some potting soils come with chicken manure and compost. Although this is not necessary for houseplants these soils are better quality and will give your plants a strong start. It will also reduce the frequency you need to fertilize your plants.

Succulents or Cacti

Choose a bagged cactus mix when planting succulents or cacti. To promote drainage, it will have more perlite and pumice. Cacti need to feel happy. Mix half regular potting soil with half cactus mixture to ensure drought tolerance and good drainage.

Tropical Houseplants

However, tropical houseplants like lots of moisture. You might want to amend your potting soil with some compost or worm castings. This will increase their moisture retention and provide a richer environment for them to enjoy.

Watering Requirements

Poor watering can be a major problem for houseplants. Overwatering is the biggest killer of houseplants. This is especially true if the practice is combined with a dearth of drainage holes inside the pot.

How Often Should You Water Them?

Many houseplants should be allowed to dry slightly between waterings. Although it may not be completely dry, your houseplant should not be left in soggy, wet soil all the time. After all, they breathe through their roots!

You won’t know how much water you should use because it will depend on the climate, pot size, soil type and other factors. Some of our biggest pots might get many cups every time they are watered (elephant ears), while some smaller and more drought-tolerant plants get only a small amount (cacti or snake plants), and others get much more. With time, you’ll find your own rhythm and discover what your plants love.

The goal is to give enough water to moisten the soil, but not too much to allow it to drain out or dry out between waterings


Most houseplants love slightly humid air. Some plants, such as a lot of ferns, need it, and cannot live without it. You may need to mist your houseplants once a week in drier areas. A humidifier is a great way to keep your houseplants happy, especially if you are a serious plant enthusiast.

Other Watering Tips

Water your plants evenly. Don’t water your plants in one place or the center. This causes water to rush into one spot, which could cause other areas to dry out completely. Even water distribution encourages healthier root development and better water retention.

Pay attention to how water behaves when it is applied to the soil surface

Are you seeing it absorb quickly? Is it slow-absorbing or does it sit there pooling? The soil’s top can sometimes get caked up. The soil can also pull away from the sides and bottom of the pot. When you water your pot, the water may run off the surface and down the interior of the pot. You may think that you’re drowning, but in reality it’s completely bypassing the soil or roots.

This can be solved by using a pencil, chopstick, or small stake to poke holes into the soil’s top two inches and gently break it up. This will increase aeration and create pockets that allow water to absorb better.

Since they come with drip trays, it’s not necessary to move the plants every watering day 

Others collect their houseplants, and water them in the bathtub, sink, or shower. Air plants are the exception. They are collected, then dipped in water. Let them dry upside-down on a wire rack in my spare shower.

It is easiest to water with a small watering container that has a narrow spout. This helps reach the hanging plants without making a mess.

Feeding Requirements

You can water your houseplants with either dilute seaweed extract or an aloe vera soil drip, or you can make homemade active aerated compost tea. Using seaweed is the easiest and most straightforward of all the methods. 

Real Men Sow
Real Men Sow

Hello, I’m Pete and I’m currently based in the west of Scotland, in a small place called Rosneath, where I’m exploring my garden adventures. I personally started gardening around 6 years ago and initially, I started out by growing my favorite fruits and berries, such as strawberries, Raspberries & Gooseberries. Since then I’ve added a lot of vegetables and working closely with my neighbor, it’s been a lot of fun.