Tag Archives: caring for houseplants

House Plants and Water

So many times when talking, about houseplants, I’m asked “how much water does it need?” or “how often do you need to water it?”

Unfortunately, the easy answer is never the most satisfying, as the easy answer is “it depends”.  It depends on the type of plant.  It depends on the amount of sunlight it receives.  It depends on the temperature of the room. It depends on the size of the plant.

In one of my kids bedrooms, there is two Pothos plants.  Both are in identical 6-inch grey ceramic pots.  Both are the same distance away from their respective windows.  Both are watered on the same day, with approximately the same amount of water.  However, when I went in this week to vacuum and water, this is what I saw:


To clarify, or complicate matters, the plant on the left is in an east-facing dormer window, the one on the right is in a south-facing dormer window.  The south window is shaded by a large tree, and generally seems darker, and the east-facing window seems to be the sunnier warmer location for the entire day.

Luckily, most of my houseplants benefit more from neglect, than from over-watering, and now both are thriving again. My best suggestion, as un-helpful as it may seem: water your houseplants when it seems like they need it.

To keep things green and healthy in your home, here are some other great options:



All About Air Plants

After Gardening Saturday, an Air Plant (Tilandsia), made its way home, and landed on the kitchen counter, and there it stayed. My plan is to gather a few friends for this one, and hang them in glass terrariums that I have been eyeballing for years.  We have a bit of an abusive relationship with houseplants at our house, due to a cat that will eat anything stringy, a toddler that will pull off anything hanging, and two older kids who will make dinosaur jungles around the base of any plant that’s available (we do have several great options that thrive despite their enviroments).  I’m hoping that these Air Plants, hung up high will be safe from everyone!

Air Plants are so named because their roots do not need to be planted in soil; the leaves draw necessary nutrients from the air.  In the wild, they can be found clinging to rocks and trees with their roots.

Air plants need air, water and light to thrive, just as any other house plant. They can live in a container (like my future terrarium!) as long as that container is not sealed, and air can circulate around the plant.

Most plants draw moisture from the soil with their roots; since Tilandsia draws water from the air, it needs to be misted regularly.  Like any other houseplant it is important to consider that a plants hydration needs will vary drastically depending on its environment.  One article recommended bathing the plant once/week in the summer, and once every three weeks in the more humid winter.  Obviously in Manitoba, our dry winters and more humid summers would have us reverse that schedule!  Most Garden Centres recommend misting Tilandsia a few times a week.  Our Air Plant is eagerly misted every day, with reminders from our little gardeners!

Tilandsia likes to be in bright, indirect light.  Placing it in front of a south-facing window would probably not be the best option, but in a bright room without a direct sunbeam will allow it to thrive!

It is possible for Air Plants to bloom, but is tricky (not this tricky ).  They only bloom once in their life cycle, just as they reach maturity.  If you see one that is starting to produce baby plants (“pups”), treat it to a bit of fertilizer in its bath or water mist, and you may be able to see it!

Air Plants are so versatile in their ability to be displayed and grown. At an affordable price, they can be replaced in the same manner as cut flowers, and can also be displayed in a wide variety of ways to suit your own home’s style and personality!



Planting Christmas Bulbs

Do you think of houseplants when you think of Christmas décor? At first, it may seem easy to relegate them to background status, behind the traditional boughs, wreaths, and of course, the tree.  But Christmas bulbs are a great way to incorporate some extra colour and life to your Christmas décor.  Amaryllis, Narcissi, and Christmas Cacti are the traditional choices, but recently I’ve noticed a lot of Orchids popping up as centerpieces and table toppers.

Winter Bulbs

Amaryllis and Narcissi (Paperwhites) typically appear with the fall bulb displays.  I usually don’t think of them when I’m picking my tulips and crocuses, but it would seem that I’m not the only one, as there are still plenty to choose from even now!  Both require between 6-8 weeks from the time of planting until they reach their peak bloom. That means now is the best time to plant! Amaryllis and Paperwhites both are easy to start, and only require minimal care; water and sunlight is sufficient!  The only additional tip for growing Amaryllis, is that the stalk will grow towards the light, so it is important to carefully turn the container periodically.

Christmas Cacti are so-called because they typically bloom around Christmas time! Their blooming is dependent on the amount of sunlight they receive, rather than any particular efforts on the part of the gardener.  As long as the plant receives plenty of bright indirect light, and the right amount of water, it should bloom for you.  An important note about Christmas Cacti is that they are tropical cacti, rather than desert cacti, which means that they benefit from regular watering.  Specific timing will depend on the humidity of the house, but we typically water most of our houseplants every 10-14 days. Watering them when the top inch of the soil is dry is a good schedule to maintain.

This year, at our house I’m excited to use my moderate crafty skills and am going to make a table top orchid display, something like this:

Orchid Centrepiece  I’m thinking a few white orchids, with red and white sparkled ornaments.  Luckily there’s plenty of time to work out the details!!

The Best Houseplants

At the Garden Centre, we’re feeling more and more like spring is in the air.

However at home, I’m staring out the window at where my (6 foot tall!) cedars should be, where my lawn furniture should be, where my dwarf lilacs should be, and all I’m seeing is piles and piles of snow!  Fortunately for my mental health, we have quite a few indoor plants, and watering them is keeping me satisfied until we begin to thaw.

When it comes to indoor plants, there are SO many options.  Whether you are a veteran indoor gardener, or someone who claims to have the blackest of thumbs, there’s bound to be something that will be a perfect addition to your indoor space.


If you are new to houseplants, or are looking for something that will require minimal care, my best suggestion is a Sansevieria, also known as “snake plant”.  We have two at home, one small one and one big one.  We rarely water them, and keep them in our north-facing living room where they receive lots of light, but no direct sunlight.  They are thriving!

If you’re looking for a conversation-starting showstopper, a giant Kentia Palm would be a great option! They can grow quite tall (last year we sold some that were up to 8 feet tall!), but grow slowly, so won’t soon outgrow your space. They require more watering and light than a sansevieria, but aren’t particularly strenuous to care for.



If you’re an active follower of home décor trends, you may have noticed that the 70’s are seeming to be the decade to recall.  Along with retro style furniture, we’re seeing the return of macramé plant hangers. A traditional spider plant is a great choice to hang in a sunny corner. The spider plant is also a great air purifier, and its satellite “babies” provide a great way to increase your plant collection.


If you’re looking for a great resource for caring for your indoor gardens, check out: Costa Farms Plant Library.  It provides a detailed list of tons of plants, how to best care for them, and under what conditions they are most likely to thrive.  They are one of our suppliers of tropical plants!


If you’re still not convinced that plants really do make a home more beautiful, check out this roundup of spaces with plants on apartmenttherapy.com: