houseplant care beginner's guide

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beginner's houseplant care guide
philodendron cebu blue cutting rooting in water

So, you’ve fallen in love with the beautifully plantscaped images on the internet and you’re ready to up your plant game. Or, maybe you have a couple of plants and would like to learn how to care for them a little better. No matter what the reason, you’ve come to the right place. Read on for my beginner’s guide to houseplant care.

My first tip is the hardest, and it’s to not impulse buy plants that you don’t know how to care for. If you are a beginner, knowing what you’re purchasing and how to care for it will help you to be more successful with your plants.

A Beginner's Guide to Houseplant Care

I would walk through local greenhouses or browse Instagram to see what types of plants I liked. Next, I research them to determine if my home can accommodate the plant’s needs. If the plant is a match, I will write down the name on the notes app of my phone until I find them in person. To learn more about me, and our Farmhouse, click here!


houseplants growing happily
  1. Select a type of plant that is hardy, or easy to grow.
  2. Learn the plant’s requirements (how much light, water, humidity) and determine if you can accommodate it’s needs.
  3. If you have animals or small children, make sure to check online to determine if the plant(s) are safe to bring into your home.
  4. When selecting a plant from the store, choose one that looks healthy. A healthy plant will have minimal damage, be free of pests, and have evidence of new growth.

Big box stores often have a clearance plant section. I do not recommend saving a damaged plant to beginner plant-keepers. In order to be successful, you should start off with healthy and hardy plants.

After several plant successes when you’re feeling more confident with keeping houseplants alive, don’t skip the clearance isle!

When you’re ready to purchase your first plant, check out our Best Easy Care Houseplants for Beginners!


houseplant care guide
monstera deliciosa

All houseplants require some type of light, but figuring out what lighting you have in your home can be confusing at first. I obsessed over this when I first began my plant-keeping journey, so I’ve compiled a list to help those of you on your beginner’s houseplant care journey to determine light more easily. Hint, you’ll need to use the compass app on your phone!

At this time I have not yet incorporated grow lights into my home. This may change in the future, but all of the lighting tips I am sharing below are in reference to sunlight.


beautiful healthy houseplants
philodendron “prince of orange”

Low Light: There are many houseplants advertised as requiring “no light” or low light. All plants need some type of light to photosynthesize and live. A low light area should be bright enough to easily read the newspaper without turning on any other artificial light. Anything darker is not suitable for houseplants without a grow light.

Medium – High Light: Knowing what direction your windows are facing can help to determine what type and how much light your plants will get. Also remember, moving a plant a few feet back from a window can quickly change the lighting from “high” to “medium”, so there are a lot of variables.


best lighting for houseplants

Grab your compass and head for the windows! We’re going over the breakdown of which windows to put your plants in front of.

North facing windows: These are your low-light areas.

South-facing windows: Here’s your bright/high light! South facing windows provide the longest amount of sunshine throughout the day. Most plants will thrive in a south facing window, but if your plant is a medium light lover, pull it away from the window. Cacti and succulents love this lighting.

East-facing windows: This is my favorite window to grow houseplants. The early morning sun is gentle on the leaves of plants, and most houseplants thrive in east windows. I would classify this as medium light. Most of my philodendrons, monsteras, pothos, calathea, fiddle leaf fig … are in East facing widows.

West-facing windows: While west-facing windows don’t get many hours of sunlight per day, the sunlight that does shine in can be harsh. Hot afternoon sun can’t be tolerated by all plants, so you may consider sheer curtains to protect leaves from the sun’s harsh rays. Or perhaps slide your plants back away from the windows. Cacti and succulents love west-windows and thrive in these conditions.

Direct/Indirect Light: When researching plants, you will hear a lot about plants who require direct light vs those who rather have indirect light. Direct light means that the plant is getting hit by the sun’s rays. Indirect light is when a plant is out of the sun’s reach.


easy to care for houseplants
philodendron “moonlight”

After asking your common houseplant care questions on Instagram and Facebook, I have received numerous questions about proper watering of houseplants, and it’s definitely a tricky subject! Be sure to know the requirements of your specific plant, as some species like to dry out and others do not. But generally speaking, here are my top watering tips.

  • Water your plants until water runs out of the bottom of the pot.
  • Never let any plant sit in water (for an extended period of time). After watering, be sure to dump out the saucer. Even moisture loving plants do not like to have “wet feet”.
  • Most plants prefer to have the top inch (or so) of soil dry out in between waterings. This varies depending on the variety of plant. For example: primroses, monstera adansonii, and calathea varieties do not tolerate drying out.


beginners guide to growing houseplants
monstera deliciosa

Watering is essential to proper houseplant care. How often to water your plants is determined by a variety of factors, such as:

  • The location of the plant: Is the plant receiving a lot of sunlight? Or outside? These factors can dry a plant out faster.
  • What type of pot is the plant in? Terra cotta pots are known for supporting healthy root systems for most plants (not for Hoyas). Terra cotta is breathable, and allows the soil to dry out a bit faster than a glazed pot, plastic, etc.
  • Size of the plant and it’s pot: Most plants would rather be slightly tight in their pot (under-potted) as opposed to over-potted. A large plant in a small pot will use water more frequently than the opposite. Plants that are over-potted are at a higher risk for over-watering and root rot, so it’s best to air on the side of caution.

So, how often you should be watering your plants really depends on each specific plant. There are moisture meters on the market that can be stuck into the soil and tell you if the plant is ready to be watered. I have never used a moisture meter, and I’ve heard mixed reviews (I much rather just stick my finger in the soil).

I have also recently learned that there are a number of apps that will track your plants and remind you when to water/fertilize. It’s important to remember that each plant is different, and shouldn’t be watered based on a calendar, but rather based on the plant’s needs.


healthy houseplants
pilea peperomioides

To determine if your plant needs a drink, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is this the type of plant that can dry out a little, or does it need to be watered more frequently?
  • Are the leaves droopy, or soft feeling? (If yes, give it a drink!)
  • Does the pot feel very light? And does the soil feel dry 1/2-1″ down?
  • When was the last time I watered this plant? Does it make sense to water it today?

Once you’ve had your plant for a little while, it is easy to tell when to give it a water.


flowering houseplants
“purple panda” cape primrose

This post contains affiliate links, which means I make a small commission at no extra cost to you. See my full disclosure here.

Most houseplants will benefit from being fertilized during the growing season. I would recommend a water-soluble fertilizer, diluted to 1/2 strength and used bi-weekly as it fits into your plants watering regimen.

I have purchased different types of fertilizer to accommodate the different needs of some of my plants, here are some of the fertilizers I use:


beginner houseplant care tips and tricks
red maranta (red prayer plant)

Some plants need higher humidity in order to thrive, while others couldn’t care less. To meet the needs of higher humidity plants (orchids, calathea, ferns, etc.) here are some options to consider:

  • Humidity Trays: these can either be purchased online, or made at home. Humidity trays are essentially a plastic tray filled with some stones with water added to the tray. Set your plants on the tray, but keep the bottom of the pots out of the water. As the water evaporates from the tray, the humidity around your plants increases.
  • Humidifier: We run a wood stove all winter long and the house dries up quickly. Even my drier-air tolerant plants can get a bit crispy! It’s beneficial to run a humidifier near houseplants during dry winter months.
  • Grouping plants together can also aid in increasing humidity around the plants.


houseplant care tips for beginners
spider plant

Generally, house plants thrive in the same temperatures that we enjoy! Care should be taken if your houseplants have been moved outdoors for summer.

Most tropical houseplants are tolerant to 50 degrees, but there are exceptions. For example, I have a Key Lime that cannot tolerate temperatures below 60 degrees.


If you are a beginner in the houseplant world, I hope these houseplant care tips pointed you in the right direction! Once you get comfortable caring for a plant or two, you may find yourself surrounded by many more.

Thank you for stopping by the Simply Rooted Farmhouse today! In the comments below, I would love to hear what other houseplant questions/comments you have.


Indoor gardening or outdoor gardening, I love it all! Here are some more posts you may like.

Best Easy Care Houseplants for Beginners

2020 Summer Garden Tour

How to Care for Houseplants During Winter

Cool Weather Crops to Plant for a Great Fall Garden

How to Store Heirloom Seeds (and why you should)

Linked to: Simple Homestead Blog Hop (Oak Hill Homestead)Embracing Home & Family 9 (The Inspired Prairie)Thursday Favorite Things (Katherines Corner)

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