How To Grow Houseplants

You can literally bring your house to life with indoor plants. They are easy to grow and are a perfect way to bring the outdoors in and over the past few years there has been a huge resurgence in popularity of growing house plants. 

They add texture and personality to a room and add life to “dead” spaces. Group different varieties together in planters and pots or add a pop of colour with a large, statement plant and pot. Houseplants also provide health benefits through improving indoor air quality

There are an enormous variety of plants that can be grown indoors. What remains critical to growing them successfully is choosing the right house plant for the particular area of the house you want to grow it.

Indoor environments 

Growing plants indoors is different from outdoor gardening. An inside environment varies considerably in temperature, humidity, and light. 

In many homes, the temperature not only varies during the seasons but also varies considerably during the day and night.

Windowsills can become very cold overnight, particularly in winter so move plants away, especially if you live in colder climates. Also avoid placing plants near cold drafts or heat sources such as heat pumps.

Warmer house temperatures are required for the more tropical house plants, like Monstera deliciosa that may need to be moved to warmer parts of the house over the colder months.

Although modern heating provides greater scope for growing many indoor plants, it does dry the atmosphere. This is most noticeable near heating sources like heat pumps etc. Indoor plants should be positioned away from such areas.

All houseplants prefer to grow in relatively high humidity (amount of water vapour in the air) so it is important to mist the foliage (leaves) regularly with lukewarm water.

This is a critical factor for growing indoor plants successfully. Many interesting houseplants are actually from the forest floor of tropical forests and prefer a semi-shaded position in the home. Green leaved foliage plants generally prefer shade, while plants with coloured leaves generally prefer full light. Flowering houseplants such as chrysanthemums thrive with exposure to sunlight. No plants should be placed up against windows facing the sun as the foliage will burn very quickly.


Other important factors 

Some other factors that are critical to successfully growing houseplants are:

Pots and planters
There are many different types of pots and planters to suit your style, metal, potter, ceramic or plastic. Always ensure the planter is big enough for the plant to grow in to before it needs repotting - but not too large. A rule of thumb is to repot into a pot one-to-two sizes larger than the existing container. This avoids "overpotting" which runs the risk of overwatering due to the increased water-holding capacity of the larger pot. 

Poor drainage kills a fair percentage of houseplants. Modern potting mixes like Daltons Premium Houseplant Mix provide well-drained growing medium. However, drainage holes in pots/planters are often very small and quickly become blocked. Be sure to check the size of the holes in the container before purchasing a houseplant.


General maintenance

Leaf care
With large “glossy” green-leaved houseplants such as Fiddle Leaf Fig, clean the leaves regularly with a soft sponge. This removes dust and can dislodge young insects that may be attracted to various houseplants.

This does not have to be carried out too frequently - only when roots appear through the draining holes in the pot, and/or older plants leaves take on a yellowing colour. Late spring/early summer is the best time to repot as there is optimum new root growth at this time. Most modern potting mixes contain slow-release fertilisers so repotting often reinvigorates growth in older houseplants. 

Deadheading flowering indoor plants
Regularly remove dead/finished flowers to encourage continuous succession flowering.

Watering and Feeding 
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Indoor plants are often overwatered, underwatered or irregularly watered! The amount of water a houseplant requires varies according to the species, time of year and conditions inside of the home. 

Always water with tepid water (lukewarm), especially over winter and observe the plants response to the amount of water that is applied. A simple guide is to never water plants when the soil is still wet.  Always water early in the day so the plant can absorb the moisture throughout the day before the temperature drops in the evening.

Fertiliser should only be applied during the growing season, i.e. in summer, with Daltons Premium Houseplant Tabs. It is important to assess if the plant requires fertiliser, unhealthy symptoms can be attributed to other factors, as well as the plant requiring additional nutrients. With long-term houseplants e.g. large, leafy, green plants, the application of fertiliser in spring should be part of the normal plant management programme. As a general rule, pale green leaves are indicative of the need for fertiliser.

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Never overwater or leave orchids sitting in water as their roots can rot. Water them two-three times a week during warmer months when the potting mix has dried out. Orchids prefer their fertilisers delivered in a liquid form during the growing season. Use a good quality fertiliser like Daltons Premium Orchid Food. Mix with water and apply to the plant, avoiding any foliage. 

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Cacti and succulents need to be well watered in spring and summer. During the winter months, when cacti and succulents are dormant, watering should be decreased. Fertilise with Daltons Premium Fertilisers annually in early spring.


Potting up new house plants or repotting existing ones

The best time to pot up is in spring/early summer when there is plenty of new root growth and temperatures are warmer. If your houseplants are rootbound (roots appear through drainage holes), and/or leaves turn a yellow colour, then it may be time to replant it into a larger container. 

Always choose a container that’s big enough for the plant to grow into - one that is one-to-two sizes larger than the existing pot is best. 

Poor drainage can kill houseplants so check your container has drainage holes and use free-draining potting mix like  Daltons Premium Houseplant Mix. If your container doesn’t have drainage holes, add some small stones or gravel to the bottom of the container before adding the potting mix, so the plant roots won’t constantly sit in water.

When potting up a new plant, always read the plant label carefully, following any specific instructions. As a guideline, here are some best practice steps for planting up your houseplant:

1.Removing plant
1. Ensure the plant is thoroughly moist before potting or repotting
2.Trim roots
2. Trim any damaged or tangled roots and loosen up the root ball and clean off the top 1cm of the old mix to eliminate any weeds.
3.Partially fill pot
3. Partially fill a clean, free-draining container with Daltons Premium Houseplant Mix
4.Place plant
4. Place the plant in the container. Adjust the potting mix under the plant until it is at the desired height
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5. Fill the rest of the container to approximately 2cm from the top, gently tapping to ensure the mix distributes throughout the roots
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6. Water the plant and allow to drain. Leave in a shaded spot for 2-3 days to establish


Pests and diseases

Common pests of houseplants are mealy-bugs, scale insects and red spider mite. 

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Mealy-bug and scale are both quite visible on the plant and can be removed manually with a moist cloth. However, where there is a large infestation, in summer, take the plant outside and wash away the insects and clean the infested plant parts with a fine misting hose. 
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Red spider mite is more difficult to control as it is only obvious when plants are heavily infested. It may be necessary to remove infested leaves as well as spraying water from a fine misting hose all over the plant. 
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Most diseases that affect houseplants such as brown tips of leaves are the result of a watering problem, either too much, too little, or erratic watering! Observe your houseplants carefully to assess their water requirements and always reduce the amount of water applied over the winter months. Always use lukewarm water when watering your houseplants, especially in winter. 


Houseplants to Grow

Flowering varieties

African Violets
Begonia (Rieger)
Hippeastrum Hybrids
Hoya carnosa (and other species)
Peace Lily
Begonias (Tuberous)

Bold foliage

Cast Iron Plant (Aspidistra elatior)
Coffee shrub of Arabia (Coffea arabica)
Dracaena – numerous forms to grow
Paper Plant (Fatsia japonica)
Fiddle Leaf Fig (Ficus lyrate)
Rubber Fig (Ficus elastica)
Weeping Fig (Ficus benjamina)
Swiss Cheese Plant (Monstera deliciosa)
Palms – numerous species such as Kentia palms
Philodendrons (A wide variety of shapes and sizes available)
Dwarf Umbrella Tree (Schefflera actinophylla)
Umbrella Tree (Schefflera actinophylla)
Stromanthe sanguinea
ZZ Plant (Zamioculcas Zanzibar)
Zebra Plant (Aphelandra Squarrosa)
Crotons (Codiaeum spp) - A wide variety of leaf shapes and colors available
Calathea insignis
Spider Plant (Chlorophytum)
Moses-In-The-Cradle (Rhoeo discolor)

Coloured Foliage

Dumbcane Plant (Dieffenbachia amoena)
Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima)
Radiator Plant (Peperomia) – numerous forms available
Snake Plant (Sansevieria)

Hanging/climbing plants

Grape Ivory (Cissus rhombifolia )
Ivory (Hedera spp)
Chain Of Hearts (Ceropegia wood)
Philodendron cordatum
String Of Pearls (Senecio Rowleyanus )


Boat Orchids (Cymbidiums)


Maidenhair Fern (Adiantums) - numerous forms available
Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata variety: Bostoniensis)
Hen & Chicken Fern (Asplenium bulbiferum)
Rabbit Foot Fern (Davallia fijiensis)