How to Care For Your Houseplants

Not sure how to take care of your houseplants? Here's everything you need to know about avoiding a house plant cemetery at your house.

Not sure how to take care of your houseplants? Here’s everything you need to know about avoiding a houseplant cemetery at your house.

photo by Rasa Kasparaviciene


Plants like sun. Put them in the brightest location you have. Inside, a south facing window is great. Otherwise, your brightest window is fine. Outside, locate warm loving plants in full sun unless it’s hot, in which case eastern exposures that give plants some sun, without overheating them in the afternoon, are good.

Some plants are more cool-loving and are kind of like people, they like a 72 degree day with clear skies and can become bitter tasting and go to seed, or bolt, when they get too warm.  When it’s above 75-80 F, eastern, even northern, exposures that receive less light during the warmest time of day are best. For this reason, you might want to bring cool loving plants inside during hot summer weather. The beauty of container plants is that you can move them as conditions suggest.

Lucas watering at Tomato Mountain, 2019


Plant roots need oxygen, so it is important to let the soil dry out between watering. Pick them up and learn what wet (heavy) and dry (light) feel like. When you do water, fully saturate the plant and then allow it to drain until no more water comes out from the bottom. Once you’ve done that, be sure not to leave plants standing in water on a bottom saucer unless it’s hot and your plants are drying out very quickly. Herbs/flowers like thyme, rosemary, and lavender especially appreciate a drier root environment. Cooler loving plants should not be allowed to dry out as much. It’s okay to water cool loving plants in hot weather even if they aren’t particularly dry, to keep them cool.


Fertilize occasionally, more in warm weather, less in cool weather. Learn to read your plants. Too much fertility will make plants soft and leggy. Too little fertilizer will make plants stiff and cause leaves to yellow, especially toward the bottom of the plant. Use a fertilizer with a stated ratio of 1:1:1. It’s best to fertilize with a less concentrated solution more often. If you get behind and the plant is clearly deficient, you can go for a stronger dose until the plant looks better.

photo by Markus Spiske


Besides over-watering, the biggest mistake people make is not cutting and harvesting often enough. Even if you aren’t ready to “harvest” your herbs, it’s best to cut them back periodically, to keep them compact and tidy, and to delay flowering. This keeps the plant’s growth habit shorter and stronger, and often results in sweeter, better flavor.

Generally, cutting keeps plants tidy and healthy. All herbs can be cut quite low, removing the top half or more of the plant, as long as healthy shoots remain below your cut. Harvest basil by cutting the main stem just above the second node/pair of side shoots. This keeps your basil plant young and discourages flowering. Parsley, kale, and lettuce can be harvested by pulling the outer leaves off at an angle, tearing them off close to the base of the plant, leaving no stem behind to rot. Cut cilantro near the base of the plant often to maximize its harvest period.


Plants that like it hot: lavender, basil, rosemary, thyme, oregano, marjoram, tomatoes, peppers

Cooler loving plants: lettuce, parsley, mint, kale, cilantro (keep cilantro below 75F if you can!)

photo by Markus Spiske

Still not sure how to do this?