1. Feed your ferns
Schedule an occasional teatime for your ferns, gardenias, and other acid-loving houseplants. Substitute brewed tea when watering or work wet tea leaves into the soil to give the plants a lush, luxurious look.
2. Before vacation
Water your houseplants thoroughly and arrange them, without saucers, on a dampened plush towel in your sink or tub; make sure the drain holes are in contact with the towel. Turn on the cold tap until water drips slowly onto the towel and leave the water on; the moisture in the fabric will be drawn up by the roots.
3. Don’t toss leftover club soda or egg water
The minerals in the soda water help green plants grow. For maximum benefit, give your plants a drink of soda once a week. After boiling eggs, let the cooking water cool and hydrate your houseplants with the nutrient-filled liquid.
4. Mouse pad your plants
To keep plant containers from scratching or damaging your furniture or floors, just set the pots atop old computer mouse pads. Your floor will remain scratch-free. You may need to use multiple mouse pads for large pots.
5. Try an ice cream scoop
Does dirt scatter everywhere when you are replanting your houseplants? An ice cream scoop is the perfect way to add soil to the new pot without making a mess.
6. Make your houseplants shine
Are the leaves of your plants looking dull? Wipe down each leaf with a soft cloth dipped in a half-and-half mixture of warm water and milk. You’ll get a nice shine, but there won’t be enough residue left behind to clog the leaf pores. Another trick: Rub a tiny amount of mayonnaise on the leaves with a paper towel. They will stay bright and shiny for weeks and even months at a time.
Contrary to lore, squirting foliage with water is not an efficient way to increase humidity for houseplants. A humidifier works better, or you can set the plant on a dish of pebbles and add just enough water to touch the bottom of the pot. Misting does, however, help keep leaves clean and fresh, and it’s a good way to provide moisture to cuttings that are slowly developing new roots. Use soft water (water low in minerals) when misting, and make sure it’s no cooler than room temperature. Mist in the morning whenever possible, and never mist plants that are exposed to full sun.
8. Make pots hold water longer
If your potted houseplants dry out too quickly after watering, try this simple trick for keeping the soil moist longer. When repotting, tuck a damp sponge into the bottom of the pot before filling with soil. It will act as a water reservoir and may help prevent a gusher if you accidentally overwater.
9. Use ice cubes to water
Place them around the soil, but not touching the stem. The ice will melt slowly, releasing water gradually and evenly into the soil.
10. Know when to repot
Repotting can be done at any time, but the best time is just before growth begins, which is in spring for most houseplants. Here are four signs that a plant is ready for repotting: New leaves appear slowly and are very small compared to older leaves; soil dries out very quickly or water runs down the inside of the pot without soaking in; roots are growing out through the drainage holes or are appearing above the soil’s surface in the pots; or roots are so tightly coiled that when you pull the plant from the pot, you see all roots and no soil.