Houseplant care is the act of growing houseplants and ensuring they have the necessary conditions for survival and continuing growth. This includes providing soil with sufficient nutrients, correct lighting conditions, air circulation and adding the right amount of water.
Watering houseplants on a regular basis is necessary for the plant to remain healthy and thrive. They should not, however, be watered on a scheduled basis, because different plant species need different amounts of water and sunlight so it is important to know the specifics for the particular plants that are being grown.
Houseplants sometimes also need to be cleaned of dust and greasy films that collect on the leaves when they are indoors. Dusty, grimy leaves can inhibit growth.
Data for some common houseplants
The meaning of Low-Medium-High depends on the context. For example, in orchid literature 1,500 foot-candle is referred to as Low Light.
Most plants will survive illuminance 10 times lower than listed below but will not grow as well or bloom.
Low (500–2,500 lux; 50–250 foot-candles)
North window at 40o latitude, 3–10 ft from fluorescent lights
- Aglaonema commutatum cv. 'Silver King'
- Aglaonema modestum (Chinese Evergreen)
- Aspidistra elatior (Cast-iron Plant)
- Aspidistra elatior cv. Variegata (Variegated Cast-iron Plant)
- Chamaedorea elegans (Parlour Palm)
- Epipremnum aureum (Golden Pothos)
- Epipremnum aureum cv. Marble Queen
- Monstera deliciosa (Ceriman)
- Sansevieria trifasciata (Sansevieria or Snake Plant)
- Sansevieria trifasciata cv. 'Laurentii' (Goldband Sansevieria)
Medium (2,500–10,000 lux; 250–1,000 foot-candles)
East/West window at 40o latitude, filtered daylight, 1–3 ft from fluorescent lights, 5–10 ft from a 400W metal halide light bulb
- Aechmea fasciata (Silver Vase)
- Asparagus aethiopicus cv. 'Myers' (Plume Asparagus)
- Asparagus aethiopicus cv. 'Sprengeri' (Sprengeri Asparagus)
- Asparagus setaceus (Fern Asparagus)
- Aucuba japonica cv. 'Variegata' (Gold-dust Plant)
- Brassaia actinophylla (Schefflera)
- Brassaia arboricola (Dwarf Schefflera)
- Caryota mitis (Fishtail Palm)
- Chamaedorea erumpens (Bamboo Plant)
- Chlorophytum comosum (Spider Plant)
- Cissus rhombifolia (Grape-ivy)
- Cycas revoluta (King Sago)
- Dieffenbachia amoena (Giant Dumbcane)
- Dieffenbachia maculata (Spotted Dumbcane)
- Dizygotheca elegantissima (False Aralia)
- Dracaena deremensis cv. Warneckii (Striped Dracaena)
- Dracaena fragrans cv. Massangeana (Corn Dracaena)
- Dracaena godseffiana (Gold-dust Dracaena)
- Dracaena marginata (Red-margined Dracaena)
- Dracaena sanderiana (Ribbon Dracaena)
- Fatsia japonica (Japanese Fatsia)
- Ficus benjamina (Weeping Fig)
- Ficus elastica cv. 'Decora' (India Rubber Plant)
- Ficus lyrata (Fiddle-leaf Fig)
- Ficus retusa (Indian Laurel Fig)
- Gynura aurantiaca (Velvet Plant)
- Hedera helix (Common Ivy)
- Howea forsterana (Kentia Palm)
- Kalanchoe species
- Kohleria species
- Maranta leuconeura cv. 'Erythroneura' (Red-veined Prayer Plant)
- Nepenthes sp. (Asian pitcher-plants) seedlings and lowlanders (N. ampullaria, N. bicalcarata) prefer 600–900 ft-candles with occasional full morning sun exposure. Most adult plants do better in 1600–1800 ft-c light.
- Nephrolepis exaltata cv. 'Bostoniensis' (Boston Fern)
- Nerium oleander (Oleander)
- Peperomia caperata (Emerald Ripple Peperomia)
- Peperomia obtusifolia (Oval-leaf Peperomia)
- Phalaenopsis orchids. Most popular "Home Depot" orchid. Needs 1,000-1,800 ft-c.
- Philodendron bipennifolium (Fiddle-leaf Philodendron)
- Philodendron scandens ssp. oxycardium (Heart-leaf Philodendron)
- Philodendron selloum (Tree Philodendron)
- Pilea cadierei (Aluminum Plant)
- Pilea involucrata Friendship Plant
- Plectranthus parviflorus (Soup Mint)
- Polyscias balfouriana cv. 'Marginata' (Variegated Balfour Aralia)
- Punica granatum var. nana
- Primula species
- Saintpaulia species (African Violet)
- Spathiphyllum cv. 'Clevelandi' (Cleveland Peace Lily)
- Spathiphyllum cv. 'Mauna Loa' (Mauna Loa Peace Lily)
- Syngonium podophyllum cv. 'Trileaf Wonder' (Trileaf Wonder Nephthytis)
- Tradescantia fluminensis (Spiderwort)
- Tradescantia pallida (Wandering Jew)
- Vinca major var. variegata (Periwinkle)
- Zantedeschia species (Calla lily)
High (10,000–20,000 lux; 1,000–2,000 foot-candles)
Full Daylight (10,000–25,000 lux), South window at 40o latitude, 2–5 ft from a 400W metal halide light bulb
- Adenium obesum (Desert Rose) 500–2500 ft-c
- Alternanthera ficoidea (Joseph's Coat)
- Aphelandra squarrosa (Zebra Plant)
- Araucaria heterophylla (Norfolk Island Pine)
- Beaucarnea recurvata (Ponytail Palm)
- Cissus antarctica (Kangaroo Vine)
- X Citrofortunella mitis (Calamondin)
- Coffea arabica (Coffee plant)
- Solenostemon scutellarioides (Coleus)
- Cordyline terminalis (Ti Plant)
- Cymbidium orchids
- Dendrobium orchids
- Euphorbia pulcherrima (Poinsettia)
- Crassula ovata (Jade Plant)
- x Fatshedera lizei (Hybrid Fatsia)
- Gardenia jasminoides
- Hibiscus rosa-sinensis (Chinese Hibiscus)
- Hoya carnosa (Wax Plant)
- Iresine lindenii (Blood Leaf)
- Nepenthes species, large adult plants
- Petunia hybrida (Cascade type)
- Podocarpus gracilior (Weeping Pododarpus)
- Polyscias fruticosa (Ming Aralia)
- Rhoeo spathacea (Moses-in-the-Cradle)
- Sedum morganianum (Burro's Tail)
- Tagetes species (Marigold)
Very High (20,000–50,000 lux; 2,000–5,000 foot-candles)
direct Sun (32,000–130,000 lux), 1–2 ft from a 400W metal halide light bulb
- Aeonium species (Saucer plants)
- Aloe barbadensis (Barbados Aloe)
- Schlumbergera species (Christmas Cactus)
- Vanda orchids
Most plants grown as houseplants are selected because they are already adapted to growing at typical house temperatures, between 15° and 25°C. Exceptions do occur, and some plants require chilling periods at lower temperatures (down to 5° or 10°) in winter when less light is available.
Air circulation requirements
Since almost all of the air circulation (transpiration) happens in the roots as does almost all of the energy production, the roots must be able to breathe easily. Overwatering will drown a typical houseplant. The air is pulled through the soil by the breathing of the roots. Air must be able to flow through the soil.
The amount of water a particular houseplant needs is influenced by several factors. Not only is the individual plant size and species important, but also the growing conditions. Light, temperature, humidity, container type, container size, and soil type all influence the speed of growth and therefore the amount of water needed. Further, it is best to look up individual plant types for their watering needs.
Houseplants in a controlled production greenhouse are kept in an ideal conditions for rapid growth. Some plants and production flowers are even hybridized for fast growth characteristics. Nutritional needs of a plant in a production green house are greater than in a typical personal house plant environment where humidity, light, irrigation, and air circulation are not ideal. After being removed from the production greenhouse the plant slows evapotranspiration. Likewise after being brought into a typical household the watering and nutitional requirements decline, the plants growth rate declines and the nutritional needs decline. Plants use most of the carbon that they release from CO2 to create energy but some of the carbon feeds plant growth. Far less plant food comes from the soil.
- "CPN Samples". Carnivorousplants.org. Retrieved 2013-10-04.
- "Nepenthes University - Cultivating 101". Cpjungle.com. Retrieved 2013-10-04.
- "CP Mailing List Archives for 1994: Reply Nepenthes help". Omnisterra.com. Retrieved 2013-10-04.