Expert Tips for General Houseplant Care

Published on
January 9, 2023 at 4:40:00 PM PST January 9, 2023 at 4:40:00 PM PSTth, January 9, 2023 at 4:40:00 PM PST

We would argue that nothing is more welcoming in your home than a houseplant. Or two or three.

Whether you're new to the houseplant craze, or have been collecting for years, it’s important to follow a few simple tips to keep your plants happy and healthy.


How often and how much to water your plants changes throughout the year. Houseplants grow slower during the winter months therefore requiring less water. However, when the heat is on, the soil dries out quicker and they may need a bit more.

  • It's best to underwater than to overwater.
  • Only water when the plant needs it.
  • Check potting soil, if it’s dry 2” below surface, give plant a drink.
  • If soil is dark in color and feels moist, no water is needed.
  • If plant has wilting leaves or soil that pulls away from sides of planter, give it a drink.
  • Use warm water. It absorbs the best.

If you have soft water, let the water sit for a day before watering the plant. The best water is rain water or distilled water which is free of minerals. 


Knowing the plant’s natural environment will help your plant thrive. Misters are great for increasing humidity without over watering.

  • Replicate your plant’s natural environment.
  • A humidifier can help both you and your plants.
  • Tropical plants prefer high humidity. 
  • Desert plants prefer dry air and bright, direct light. 


Too much fertilizer can do more harm than good. Houseplants should be fertilized once a month during the spring and summer months and not at all during the fall and winter months. You should never fertilize your plants if they are having issues, such as wilting/yellowing/etc. It will only stress the plant out further. 

  • Fertilize plant during the growing season (early spring to fall). 
  • Less is more. Our fertilizers should be diluted with water. Follow instructions on fertilizer package.
  • Don’t fertilize plants less than a year old. 
  • Change the soil! Fresh soil has enough new nutrients. 


This doesn’t always mean putting your plant in a new planter, but rather changing out your plant’s soil with fresh potting mix. 

New potting soil provides new nutrients. Plants should be re-potted every 12-18 months. If plant has outgrown its planter, choose a new one that is 1-3” larger than current container. 


Having a planter with a drainage hole and a saucer is beneficial for your plant. For planters without drainage, keep your plant in a grow pot nestled inside. Add rocks to the bottom of planter (this creates areas for excess water to flow to). 

Cacti & Succulents

These low maintenance and easy to care for houseplants are some of the favorites, but their requirements are a little different than growing your typical houseplant. 

  • Most cactus and succulents are native to sunny, dry locations. 
  • Capable of long dry spells followed by heavy rainfall. 
  • The plant stores its water inside itself. 
  • Watering doesn’t have to be done very often, generally once a month, only when the soil is completely dry, or when plant is starting to shrivel. 
  • Indoor succulents and cacti want as much sunlight as possible. 
  • Place near brightest window. 
  • If they start to grow leggy and stretch towards the window, they are telling you they want more light.

A Little TLC

Once you bring your plant home, give it a few weeks to adjust to its new environment. Just by observing your plant, you’ll be able to determine if it’s getting enough sun or if the temperature is too high or low. 

If you feel you need a little more information on being a plant parent, check out some of our books like Plant Parenting. 

Shop With The Experts

At Earl May, we’re proud of the plants and the expertise we offer. When you purchase plants from our garden centers, not only are you getting a quality plant, you also have access to our experts who can help answer your questions. Talk to our plant experts if your plants show:

  • Yellow leaves 
  • Powdery mildew 
  • Strange spots 
  • Brown tips 
  • Weak stems 

Houseplant Care Timeline

Learn more about the weekly, monthly, and annual routine care you should do to keep your houseplants looking their best throughout the year!