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How to Keep an Indoor Plant Alive

Do plants wilt at the sight of you? With these tips, anyone can keep a houseplant alive – even you!


  • Step 1: Pick a plant that's tough to kill. Hardy varieties include spider, rubber, and snake plants, and pothos, aloe vera, and peace lilies.
  • Step 2: Choose a good location. Plants do best in the light and temperature of their native environment. For instance, tropical plants like their surroundings bright and humid, while cacti need sunlight but very little water.
  • TIP: Put houseplants that thrive on humidity in the bathroom – the dampest room in the house.
  • Step 3: Find out your plant's foot-candle requirement, which is how many candles it would take to light the plant from one foot away. A plant that needs 250 or fewer candles is a low-light plant; one that needs more than 1,000 requires very bright light. If your plant didn't come with this information, search for it online.
  • Step 4: Poke the soil with your finger before watering. If it's moist, leave it alone. Overwatering is the no. 1 killer of houseplants.
  • Step 5: Fertilize a few times between the spring and fall. Low-light plants only require fertilization once or twice a year. Slow-growing plants need less fertilizer, while faster growing varieties need more. Choose a fertilizer that contains nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Water the soil before fertilizing to prevent fertilizer burn.
  • TIP: Watering your plants with the water in which you boiled vegetables or water from your fish tank gives them nutrients that help them grow.
  • Step 6: Talk or sing to your plants. Some research has indicated this can help them thrive, as does playing certain kinds of music. Indian sitar music works best, followed by classical music. Stay away from heavy metal: Plants exposed to loud rock music died after a few weeks in one famous experiment.
  • FACT: British media famously lampooned Prince Charles in 1986 after he said in a T.V. interview that it was very important to talk to plants, and that they respond to the human voice.

You Will Need

  • A plant
  • Knowledge of its native environment
  • Water
  • Fertilizer
  • A soothing voice or a radio

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