If you think you have a “black thumb,” that prevents you from keeping houseplants, chances are good that you just haven’t found the right plant yet. The most common reasons that homeowners end up killing their plants are either water or light conditions.
Potted Plant or Houseplant?
Some plants are not designed to live. Potted plants, like the potted tulips or paperwhites that appear in stores every spring or poinsettias that are sold during Christmas are typically potted plants. These plants will thrive for a short season and then usually die. By contrast, houseplants should thrive for years with proper care and attention.
Time of Year
Even tropical plants slow down their water requirements in winter. Since overwatering is one of the most common means of killing a plant, slow down the amount of water that you give your plant when the days get shorter. In general, plants need watering in summer when the soil one centimeter below the surface is only slightly damp. In winter, plants need only about a third of this. Not sure if your plant needs water or not? A moisture meter is a good means of testing the soil.
Lack of watering is the second biggest reason houseplants die. If your plants appear to shrivel and turn brown, you may want to increase the amount of water you give them slightly. Just don’t go from one extreme to the other.
Most plants need light to thrive, but not as much as you might think. A lot of houseplants are chosen for sale because they do well in low-light situations. Plants that grow well in very low light can include ferns and ivies. Avoid cactus unless you have a large, south-facing window to put it in.
When you buy a houseplant, try to keep in mind the type of living conditions that you can provide for it as well as your lifestyle and purchase a plant to match those conditions. If you live in a basement, avoid light-loving plants. On the other hand, if you have lots of windows, shade-loving plants may not be your best choice.
Try it and you’ll be surprised at the difference these few changes will make.