University of Maryland Extension

Best Practices

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How to Grow Healthy Houseplants

flowering begonia

  • 'Location, Location, Location'. Houseplants have very specific cultural requirements. They will thrive if they are
    happy and will suffer if they aren't.
  • Good drainage is essential to prevent root rot. Make sure containers have drainage holes and remove or cut away decorative foil to prevent excess water from pooling. 
  • Keep your plants neat and clean by removing dead and diseased foliage or spent flowers; this reduces insect and disease problems and improves their appearance. Gently dust the leaves with a soft rag. Periodically place your plants in the shower. This can revive a tired houseplant and helps to leach soluble salts (from fertilizers) from the soil. 
  • Avoid wetting the leaves of fuzzy leaved plants like African violets. Wet foliage can cause leaf spotting.  
  • Trim off the tips of leaves if they are dry and brown. 
  • Set houseplants outside after the danger of frost has passed. To avoid sunscald initially place them in a shady location and over a period of two weeks or so gradually introduce them to more sunlight. 
  • Thoroughly spray your houseplants before moving them back indoors in the fall with a horticultural oil or insecticidal soap labeled for use on houseplants. 
  • Check plants before purchasing them for diseases or pests and quarantine new houseplants before placing them with your other plants. Buy healthy plants! 
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