Basic Care for Indoor Green Plants       Bookmark and Share

The environment indoors in Minnesota is usually very different from where an indoor plant grows in nature. Understanding the basic care needs of the plant will help it survive in an unnatural environment. Factors to consider include light, water, temperature, humidity and fertilizing.

Choosing Green Plants
When choosing the right plant for your home, the most important factor is matching the plant to your available light. Here are definitions for the three common light levels and a list of plants that like to thrive in each one.

Light Requirements Example Plants

Low Light – North Exposure
Plants that require low light can survive in an area away from windows in rooms that are brightly lit. They perform best with north exposure.

events & seminars Aglaonema
events & seminars Cast Iron Plant
events & seminars Calathea
events & seminars Philodendron
events & seminars Pothos
events & seminars Spathiphyllum

Medium Light – East Exposure
Plants that require medium light prefer light throughout the day. They perform best with east exposure or indirect light.

events & seminars Dieffenbachia
events & seminars Most Dracaenas
events & seminars Most Ferns
events & seminars Ivies
events & seminars Scheffleras

High Light– West/South Exposure
Plants that require medium light need several hours of direct sunlight. They perform best with west or south exposure.

events & seminars Cactus and Succulents
events & seminars Citrus
events & seminars Croton
events & seminars Ficus Trees
events & seminars Most Palms
events & seminars Norfolk Island Pine

Once you have a handle on the lighting requirements, make sure the plant you choose has:
events & seminars A full, even shape
events & seminars Healthy, green foliage
events & seminars Visible new growth
events & seminars No signs of wilting

Basic Care of Indoor Plants


events & seminars Always use room temperature or barely lukewarm water.
events & seminars Do not use softened water.
events & seminars Water thoroughly until water drips from the bottom of the container.
events & seminars Discard any excess water sitting in the saucer or container.
events & seminars Plants that require water when topsoil approaches dryness: Citrus, Ferns, Ficus Trees, Palms and Spathiphylum.
events & seminars All remaining plants require water when the top 1" of the soil feels dried to touch.

Temperature requirements

events & seminars Prefers average indoor temperatures.


events & seminars Most indoor plants grow naturally in humid environments.
events & seminars Cactus and succulents require dry environments.
events & seminars Kitchens, bathrooms and sunrooms generally offer appropriate humidity levels for indoor plants.
events & seminars Grouping plants together increases the humidity in other rooms.
events & seminars Placing the plants on top of gravel in moisture-filled trays helps increase humidity, but do not allow pots to sit in water.
events & seminars Do not mist plants.


events & seminars Fertilize monthly with a balanced water soluble fertilizer.
events & seminars Fertilize only once in the winter, from October-February.


events & seminars Prune any dead branches or yellowing leaves.


events & seminars Water runs immediately through the container when watering.
events & seminars Roots are circling around the top of the soil.
events & seminars A large mass of roots begin to circle around the drainage holes at the bottom of the container.
events & seminars Repot in a 1–2" larger container using Bachman’s Mighty Earth Potting Mix. (Cactus and succulents prefer cactus soil.)

Additional Bachman's Information
Watering Basics for Indoor Plants
Repotting and Propagating Indoor Plants
Basic Care for Blooming Plants
Indoor Plant Problems
Unique Indoor Plants
Common Indoor Plants
Trailing Indoor Plants
Miniature Indoor Plants

University of Minnesota Extension


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