Five simple rules to keep your houseplants from dying this winter – top tips for beginners

The Home Depot outlines common houseplant issues

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As the winter months approach, budding horticulturalists may find themselves having to turn their attention to indoor plants. Though many houseplants are relatively easy to keep alive, for beginners, it can feel like a daunting task.

Not only does the colder season bring a number of challenges for plants outside, but indoor plants can also take a beating if they are not correctly cared for.

Express.co.uk spoke with Daniel Bruce from Kent-based online houseplant specialist Leafy to discover his five top tips for first-time plant parents this winter.

Water your plants enough, but not too much

Watering your plants may seem like the most obvious part of caring for them, but according to Mr Bruce, it can also be a sure way to cause major fatalities.

He told Express.co.uk: “One day, we’ll have to do a top 10 list of ‘best ways to kill a houseplant’ and just repeatedly write ‘Overwater them’.

“Overwatering houseplants is by far the most common way to kill them, and if we’re being honest with ourselves, we’ve all done it at least once in our life.”

Mr Bruce recommends using “the finger test” to determine whether your plant has had enough or too much water.

He said: “All you need to do is feel the soil, and if it’s dry then pour on some water, if not let it rest some more.”

Be sure how much light your plant needs

While light is one of the main sources of nutrition for plants, not every houseplant wants to be sunbathing in direct rays.

In fact, many houseplants much prefer being tucked away in a corner with just a little bit of light coming in through the window.

Mr Bruce said: “When it comes to plants you need to understand what type of plant you have, and where best to place it in your home.

“Most plants can’t survive without light, even when advertised as low light variations, as photosynthesis and those sweet Vitamin D rays are the lifeblood of any good indoor jungle.”

Most UK plants require bright, indirect light, according to Mr Bruce.

Typically this means being placed in a room that gets plenty of sunlight, but not necessarily in direct rays.

Mr Bruce said: “If you do have a houseplant placed in a lowlight room, you can move them into sunlight every now and then, so they gain some vitamin D.”

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Make sure to feed your plants

The concept of fertiliser may seem like something for more professional gardeners, but according to the Leafy expert, it is not something houseplant owners should avoid.

He said: “In the wild, the earth and soil has hundreds of different nutrients which help plants grow, whereas houseplant soil has very little.

“Many houseplant owners don’t use them and are always completely shocked at the difference it makes to their growth rate and even colour.”

The type of fertiliser your houseplant requires may depend on its breed, however, Mr Bruce says there are also plenty of standard fertilisers available.

Don’t be afraid to re-pot your plants

Repotting plants can be a bit of a task, but according to the expert, it is vital if you want your plant to stay healthy and continue to grow.

Mr Bruce said: “Plants look delicate, and if you’re killing them without touching them, imagine the damage you can do when you’re using your hands to rip them out of their home.

“Some people find the task annoying, but for us, it’s really therapeutic to get soil under your fingernails and clean between the roots.”

The key to knowing when it is time to re-pot comes when a houseplant’s roots are beginning to grow out of the plant pot.

Mr Bruce added: “Make sure when repotting that you have the right potting mix on hand, as well a delicate touch when it comes to removing the soil from around the roots.”

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Be sure to clean your houseplant

While cleaning your home, you might not think about including your green friends in the chore.

However, cleaning your plants and their leaves is an essential part of their maintenance.

Mr Bruce said: “As humans, we clean our faces all the time (at least we hope you do). We don’t have to know the science behind it, as even if there were no health benefits to it, the fresh water and feeling of clean skin makes us feel better. Well, the same can be said for houseplants.

“Just like us, the surface of the foliage has pores that can clogged up with dust and dirt that stops your plant growing to its full potential.”

Cleaning a houseplant is a fairly straightforward process; simply wipe down the top of their leaves with a damp cloth until the dust is gone.

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