Common Houseplant Mistakes and How To Avoid Them

Today I am going to be talking about the most common mistakes that are made when caring for houseplants and how to avoid them. It can take a lot of work to ensure that all of your plants get the proper care, but it is worth it when you see how beautifully they grow.

“The cactus thrives in the desert while the fern thrives in the wetland. The fool will try to plant them in the same flowerbox. The florist will sigh and add a wall divider and proper soil to both sides. The grandparent will move the flowerbox halfway out of the sun. The child will turn it around properly so that the fern is in the shade, and not the cactus. The moral of the story?

Kids are smart.”

Vera Nazarian, The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration

Improper Watering

Improper watering is one of the most common mistakes made when dealing with houseplants. This is because all plants require different watering schedules. Some prefer their soil to dry out completely before being watered again, and some prefer to have constant damp soil. Although I can’t supply you with a full list of how to water your plants, I can give you some basic tips!

Tip #1: It is better the underwater rather than overwater

Tip #2: Water the soil, not the leaves

Tip #3: DO NOT let water sit on top of the soil because the plant will drown

Tip #4: Water the soil evenly, otherwise the roots will grow to one side

Image from: The Sill

Pots and Soil

Another mistake that is commonly made is putting your plants in the wrong types of pots. The biggest mistake is using pots that don’t have drainage holes. Drainage holes are very important because they allow excess water the drain out, which will prevent root rot. Along with this, it is important for your pots to have the proper amount of soil. Over time, soil will be lost in two places while watering: the bottom where the it escapes from the drainage hole and the top from splashing out.


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Improper Sunlight

Proper sunlight levels are very important to houseplants. Just as it is with watering, temperature, and humidity, different types of plants require different sunlight levels. For example, there are plants, such as succulents, that thrive in full sun conditions. However, there are also plants, such as snake plants, that prefer shade conditions.

Sun_Cactus and Succulent

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Temperature and Humidity

Just like us, plants don’t do well when conditions are too hot or too cold. When plants get too hot, they will suffer from heat exhaustion and will lose all of their water supply. Along with temperature, there are some plants that thrive in humidity. For example, I have a Norfolk Island Pine in my apartment and I spray the needles and air around it everyday to increase the humidity level.


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Dirty Leaves

A common mistake that not many people think about is not cleaning your plants’ leaves. Dirt, grime, and dust builds up on leaves and can impede the plant’s ability to perform photosynthesis. This is because of the stomata, similar to pores, that are on the surface of leaves. They open and close to move water and gases (essential to photosynthesis) in and out of the leaves. Cleaning your plants’ leaves will give them a healthier life and they’ll look better!

Ignoring Pests

Ignoring houseplant pests, such as mealybug (present in the picture below), can be a disastrous mistake. These pests can quickly get out of hand if they aren’t treated. A good tip is to check each of your plants when watering. If you aren’t bringing in new plants you shouldn’t have to worry about pests. However, it is important to quarantine (I know…) any new plants before putting them in with your current plants. During this time, you should monitor the plant for any signs of pests and treat them if they are present.

7 thoughts on “Common Houseplant Mistakes and How To Avoid Them

  1. Shae Morelock says:

    Thanks for adding in these tips to your blog. I really appreciated the tip about cleaning dirty leaves off. I never thought to do this, but it makes sense and it’s a good idea. When I brought some of my houseplants back indoors for the cold season, I didn’t think to clean off their leaves from all the grime that they accumulated from being outside over the summer. I’ll definitely be cleaning them off as soon as I get a chance.

  2. Josie Ewers says:

    This was a really informative post! I don’t currently have any houseplants of my own, but I have in the past and I have (sadly) lost several plants because I wasn’t taking proper care of them. I really like that you included pictures of the type of pot that is best (with the drainage hole). Now I know exactly what to look for the next time I but a pot for a new houseplant! 🙂

  3. Auburn Luedtke says:

    This was super informative and pleasing to look at! I really like all the tips, as me and my roommates have a bunch of plants that need tending to. Looking forward to the next posts!

  4. Morgan Horn says:

    This was a really informative post! I currently don’t have any houseplants because I have always worried that I would not know what to do or be able to keep them alive. For example, I did not know the importance of cleaning off the grime from the leaves. But after reading your tips, I think that I might start.

  5. Ashley Sherwood says:

    I love your layout of your blog! It includes so many fun colors and I love all the tips and tricks you included in the last post! Thank you for taking the time to help us fellow houseplant gurus!

  6. Jillian Mrugacz says:

    Your blog is so cute! I love the colors and designs you chose! These tips were really helpful and things that I have never thought about before! I am someone who needs all the help I can get when it comes to keeping plants alive!

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