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Three Easy Early-Spring Houseplant Tips

Justin Hancock, Costa Farms garden guru

Spring officially starts this month – and even if the weather doesn’t look like it out the windows, your houseplants know the snowy season is finally coming to a close. And that’s good news: Winter, with its low humidity, short days, and less-intense sun, is often the hardest season for your houseplants to make it through.

Tip 1: Fertilize
As the days get noticeably longer, you may notice your houseplants respond by putting out more fresh new growth. Later this month is a perfect time to give your houseplants a shot of fertilizer. While the hardier houseplants can go years without fertilization, giving them a shot of nutrients once or twice a year can help keep them looking – and growing – their very best.

Wondering what kind of fertilizer to use? Any general-purpose fertilizer labeled for use on houseplants is just fine. Follow the directions on the packaging to know how much of the product to use. Keep in mind the old adage, “if some is good, more must be better” does NOT apply to fertilizing. Using more product than the instructions recommend can injure your plants.

Tip 2: Wash Them
If those lush leaves look dull because they’re covered in dust, put your plants in the sink or shower and gently hose them down. It’s best to use room-temperature water when you do this. Washing your plants has a couple of benefits. It makes them more attractive, as you’re not looking at the leaves through a layer of dust. It also improves their health; that layer of dust acts as a filter and decreases the amount of light your plants get. Removing the dust also helps your plants breathe better, which increases their ability to pull harmful chemicals from the air, allowing you to breathe better.

Tip 3: Upgrade Their Living Quarters
Spring is an ideal time to repot rootbound houseplants. How do you know if your plant is rootbound? You may see roots growing up out of the top of the soil, or out of the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot. Or, if you have a plastic container, in excessive cases, they can fill it up so much that they cause the pot to bulge out.

When repotting houseplants, carefully remove them from the pot they’re in and tease the roots out so they’re no longer growing in a tight circle. Don’t be afraid if some of the roots break in the process; a few broken roots can be good for your plant as it stimulates more healthy new growth.

Repot your plant into a container that’s 2 to 4 inches wider than the one it was growing in. Resist the urge to make major jumps in pot size; this can lead to difficulties with watering. And if your pot has drainage holes, don’t fill the bottom with gravel or other materials. That’s old, outdated advice that doesn’t really work.

Learn more about houseplant care at
Plant Finder: Find the perfect houseplants for you!

Posted March 13, 2015

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