Quality Maintenance of Houseplants


The biodiversity of ecosystems is unlimited, and in fact, the individual encounters different members of the plant community every day. Trees, shrubs, grasses, and flowerbeds form a unique biological diversity of harmoniously related individuals with balanced metabolism and resources. In addition, competition mechanisms are established between such plants, and the processes of natural selection are in full force. However, the survival requirements for house plants, which initially exist under human-supported conditions, are significantly different. Because of the constant artificial addition of nutrients and fertilizers, houseplants are often more demanding to the conditions (Oakes). As a result, the climatic, weather, soil, and biotic factors can be different for outdoor and home plants. This research paper aims to explore aspects of the care and maintenance of houseplants.

Brief Background Information

In-depth research on the intended topic should be preceded by a brief analysis of its relevance, especially today’s agenda. According to statistics, more than 33.1 million U.S. households have participated in home gardening (Lock). Given census data regarding the total number of families in the U.S., it can be postulated that about one in four households has at least one plant grown (SRD). In light of these facts, it seems appropriate to discuss the critical aspects of quality houseplant care. An intriguing additional question of analysis is to determine why people seek to have plants. At first glance, it may seem that the desire to grow houseplants is driven by a wish to make the home environment cozier since the aesthetic component of houseplanting is hard to overemphasize.

Nevertheless, a deeper analysis may lead to a discussion of at least seven scientifically valid reasons people grow plants. First, houseplants significantly reduce perceived stress levels and create an atmosphere of comfort and safety for humans, as shown by research (Lee et al. 2). Second, plants have a concentration effect: having houseplants helps people retain attention and concentration better (Oh et al. 796). Third, similar results have been true for productivity: studies have shown that having plants at home increases that (Bringslimark 581). Fourth, the clinical side of potted plants is also intriguing since such plants have been shown to effectively combat symptoms of depression and anxiety (de Seixas et al. 88). Finally, the ecological effect of plant farming cannot be ruled out since, through photosynthesis, plants help to fight air pollution in the home (Shibata and Suzuki 373). As a consequence, there are severe advantages to home-growing that fully justify the choice of houseplanting.

Care of Plants

The decision to grow houseplants can be justified by the relative ease of caring for them. Plants do not require constant monitoring and attention from the owner: they do not need to be walked with, waste removed, or taken to the doctor. On the other hand, houseplants are less demanding to look after, but that does not mean they are neglected altogether. To take good care of them — which stimulates their growth and development and not their eventual death — one needs to consider a few fundamental forces that sustain plant life. First, it is light: daylight or sunlight is key to stimulating photosynthesis in plants. Photosynthesis is an important biochemical process that occurs in the chloroplasts of cells and results in the release of energy and the formation of glucose as a nutrient (Simkin et al. 1002). In addition, during photosynthesis, plant cells release molecular oxygen as a byproduct, which is vital not only to plants for respiration but also to humans. However, prolonged exposure to direct sunlight can be devastating, causing the leaves to dry out. Therefore, an illuminated room with indirect sunlight is recommended.

In addition, moisture is a vital criterion for the plant. Plants use water for metabolic processes, including cellular nutrition. Water, mainly raised by the vessels from the roots to the leaves, allows plants to cool down in hot weather. A plant deprived of sufficient freshwater withers and dies, losing its aesthetic qualities. Therefore, it is crucial to ensure a sufficient water supply. The presence of drainage holes at the bottom of the pot will drain excess moisture and stimulate the growth of the root system.

A critical issue, however, is determining how much water the plants need. It is ineffective to use enough or not enough criteria because it does not make any quantitative sense. It is crucial to emphasize that plant water nutrition should be systematic. In other words, the individual must develop the habit of watering the plants periodically, but this should not happen every day. When watering plants, it is essential to consider their appearance: the plant will signal if it does not have enough water or, conversely, too much. These signals will be the dryness of the leaves, the overall color of the plant, and the moisture of the soil. A great tool is to test this with a finger or wooden stick by placing that about an inch deep into the loose soil. If the finger/stick turns out to be dry, this signals the need to apply additional moisture.

It is essential to understand that the frequency of watering a houseplant is a function of its size, natural needs, and the humidity of the environment in which it is grown. Thus, basic recommendations for houseplants generally describe the need for watering once every 1 to 3 weeks. However, to be more specific, particular attention should be paid to the variety of plants. Succulents, for example, require watering once every 10-15 days, whereas more classic house plants need watering once every 5-10 days (Fiorentino). Therefore, when growing a plant in the home, the individual should be familiar with the types of plants and their water needs beforehand to ensure adequate watering.

Finally, it is critical to consider plant growth to ensure quality care. Plant organisms have unlimited growth: it follows from this that a plant can grow indefinitely under the constant influence of favorable conditions. However, under conditions of physical isolation — due to a little pot or container — the plant can be very stressed (UG). To prevent such problems, it is imperative to transplant plants into larger pots promptly. In addition, excessive branches and leaves can require too much water, so it is appropriate to cut them back. Otherwise, it is essential to use fertilizer if plants need to be encouraged to grow. Fertilizers make up a large part of plant growth, and selecting them wisely is an essential strategy for quality care.

Fertilizing Houseplants

Fertilizer should be understood to mean any mineral or organic substances that contain plant nutrients. Fertilizers aim to solve practical problems, whether it is to increase soil fertility, increase crop yields, or create a balance of nutrients. Moreover, the fertilizer system can be artificial or natural, depending on what is used as the source. By now, the market offers a variety of ready-made mineral-organic products that stimulate plant growth and development: as a rule, such fertilizers are synthetic.

It should be emphasized that the classic forms of fertilizers are based on three essential nutrients required by plants: nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus. Accordingly, the main vectors of fertilizer chemistry development are focused on the synthesis of potassium, phosphorus, and nitrogen fertilizers. Nitrogen is the primary building material of a plant required for the average growth of vegetative mass. So if there is not enough nitrogen, the plant looks stunted, has low growth, and has pale leaves (DPS). In addition, nitrogen deficiency affects flowering because flowering and fruiting are inhibited in the absence of this nutrient. Phosphorus is key to the normal development and functioning of the root system, but the biological effect of phosphorus is not limited to this. This chemical element improves the ripening of fruits and seeds, increases the sugar content of fruits and plants’ frost resistance and their resistance to diseases. Finally, potassium helps improve the absorption of other micronutrients and optimize the timing of fruit ripening, if a characteristic of a houseplant. Because houseplants are often annuals, potash fertilizers are vital for them to stimulate lush flowering.

When the need for the three key elements is no longer in doubt, it is essential to detail the nature of the fertilization procedures. Nitrogen can be obtained from urea, sulfate, and ammonium nitrate, for example. As a rule, nitrogen fertilizers are applied to the soil in the spring or early summer in the amounts indicated on the individual packages. Phosphorus can be obtained from phosphate meal, wood ash, or one of the most common forms of monocalcium phosphate, or superphosphorus. Unlike nitrogen, phosphorus can rarely poison a plant. Phosphorus fertilizer is usually applied to the soil at the beginning of budding and flowering. Potassium fertilizer should also be applied in the early stages of budding, and the application process should be repeated 2-3 times. Potassium can be obtained from potassium sulfates and chlorides, potassium humate, and wood ash.

To summarize, it is important to emphasize that plants require fertilization if grown at home. Unlike outdoor organisms, houseplants are more limited in resources and cannot effectively exchange with other ecosystem members through the soil. Potassium, phosphorus, and nitrogen fertilizers help maintain a balance of critical chemical elements in the plant, with each element targeted for use in specific practical applications. It is important to follow the dosage strictly, as deviations from it can lead to poor performance or poisoning from excess. At the same time, fertilizers should be applied in a balanced manner so that the plant gets access to all necessary nutrients at the same time.

In the form of fertilizer to be applied, one should pay attention to liquid variants. While garden and farm plants tend to perform better when fertilized with granular fertilizer, the best option is a liquid form of the nutrient for small houseplants. This can be a spray or bottled liquid that is watered into the soil near the roots. The dissolved form stimulates better absorption, and, as a result, the individual will notice the first results after just a few days. If the plant is just being set, it is imperative to fertilize it for the first time to give it the necessary impetus for increased development in its new environment. At the same time, there is no need to wait until the plant wilts or turns yellow to realize the need for a new fertilizing. The best strategy is to apply substances every few months. Consequently, one should keep a fertilizer calendar to know when the plant was last fertilized: this will prevent poisoning due to over-fertilization.

If the individual is interested in natural fertilization, however, he or she should look at a strategy for using organic household remnants. In particular, banana peels, coffee grounds, green tea, eggshells, and other household wastes can be used as natural fertilizers (Dayarathna and Karunarathna 67). For example, the average American family produces 8 kilograms of garbage per day, much of which is inefficiently disposed of or incinerated (Mcdonald). If they are recycled, the efficiency of home crop production increases, as the actual trash is used up for fertilizer. However, if garbage is discarded, the individual still can use other means of natural plant fertilization. For example, cow manure, algae, limestone, and compost also have high practical value for home crop production tasks.

A key feature of using natural fertilizers is their biochemical effect on plants. More specifically, natural fertilizers release nutrients into the soil more slowly than ready-made synthetic substances (Dayarathna and Karunarathna 77). This is because the fertilizer components suitable for assimilation are not initially in the released state, so natural fertilizers require time to be absorbed by the root system. Moreover, it should be understood that the natural decomposition of organic debris releases byproducts that may emit an unpleasant odor. Consequently, the use of such fertilizers in the home can be complicated.

Yellowing of the Leaves

Although most plants typically have green leaves, their color may change due to a lack of comfort. Therefore, one should first distinguish between plants for which green color is standard and plants whose leaf color may be different due to the uniqueness of the variety. This section discusses the first category of houseplants that have green leaves. When light, moisture, and nutrients are supplied to the plant in sufficient quantities, its appearance will hardly change.

However, in some cases, an individual may notice that the leaves of their houseplant have yellowed and become drier and more brittle. Generally, this means a lack of good nutrition. It is noteworthy that the yellowing of the leaves is never instantaneous. On the contrary, this effect spreads gradually, often starting from the edges of the leaf. From a distance, it can look like individual yellow or pale-yellow spots appearing, first on some leaves and then on the whole plant. This effect may not indicate favorable leaf development, so the individual must ensure that comfortable conditions are sufficient. To be more specific, yellowing of the leaf plate can be due to several reasons. First, this visual signal can indicate an excess of light (Loewe). When too much direct sunlight radiates from a leaf over a long period, it becomes the cause of plant cell death. As confirmation of this cause, it is sufficient to inspect the leaf thoroughly: sunburn will be observed only on the window side, while the rest will remain healthy. It is not difficult to solve this problem: the individual should either move the plants away from the window or put a thin cloth over the window to stop some sun’s rays.

The second cause of leaf yellowing can be excessive water supply to the soil. When the dosage of moisture is not metered, the soil in the pot is over-watered. The roots cannot function effectively and close the entrance channels for water intake because of the excess water. As a result, fewer molecules are transported to the leaves through the vascular cells of the stem, and thus the intensity of photosynthesis is reduced. Therefore, a yellow leaf deprived of water cannot last long and soon dries up, after which the plant discards it. A soil moisture test can confirm this reason: to eliminate this adverse effect, it is sufficient to ensure normal drainage of the soil and observe the plant’s water supply regime.

A third severe cause of leaf yellowing is improper soil acidity. It should be emphasized that all biological systems have a unique pH, which is a measure of the concentration of hydrogen ions (Penn and Camberato 120). The more dissolved hydrogen present in a medium, the more acidic it is. Acidity is not the norm for most plants because plant cells may not function efficiently or even die in low pH conditions. The optimal range of acidity for houseplant soil ranges from 6 to 7: this means that mildly acidic and neutral environments are most beneficial to the plant (Smyth). In contrast, a change in pH can harm leaf color and, consequently, the health of the entire plant. An altered pH affects the binding of minerals and prevents them from entering the plant. In other words, if the pH is too high or too low, the plant may not get all of its nutrients, which also affects its metabolic activity. To remedy this situation, it is suggested that the soil be tested with analytical pH meters. If the problem is detected, pH correctors and special fertilizers can shape a certain level.

Finally, one of the most important causes of leaf yellowing is nutrient deficiencies. It is noteworthy that there is a difference between the observed effect and the types of elements that are in deficit. Therefore, if the plant is deficient in potassium nutrition, this is manifested by a gradual yellowing from the edges of the leaf plate: the center of the leaf remains green, while the edges take on a bright yellow color. If the plant is nitrogen deficient, the general yellowing begins with the older leaves, gradually moving to the younger ones. In this case, the entire leaf plate turns a pale-yellow color. If yellow spots appear between the veins of older leaves, this can signify a magnesium deficiency: it is a case of yellowing spreading from the center to the edges. However, yellowing can also be a sign of iron and sulfur deficiency, but a unique pattern of leaf death is not usually observed in these cases. Thus, leaf yellowing is a complex problem and cannot be reduced to just one cause. In order to give proper care to the houseplant, periodic diagnosis and preventive treatment measures must be taken.

Chalky Leaves

It should be noted that in some cases, multiple white spots may appear on the leaf, which are generally similar to chalky plants. However, in contrast to the yellowing, the appearance of chalky leaves unequivocally indicates the development of infectious fungal infestations of the whole organism. More specifically, powdery mildew, caused by ectoparasitic fungi (George), is the cause of this pathological condition. If the plant is not treated at this stage, the plaque can eventually cause the leaf to turn yellow and fall off, causing the plant to die.

Repotting the Plant

In some cases, the individual must decide to transplant the entire plant into a different container. This may be justified either by a sprawling root system, a move, or a desire to plant the organism in healthier soil. Regardless of the reason for transplanting, it is essential to follow instructions to keep the plant healthy. First, a proper new pot should be chosen: it should be sufficient and have drainage holes. Secondly, the holes in the pot should be covered with a light porous material to prevent soil from falling out and root growth through the hole. Such material can be gauze, paper, or a coffee filter. Thirdly, some soil or soil mixture should be poured on top of the placed material: the best solution is to buy ready-made soil rather than taking it from the street. Fourth, some freshwater should be added on top of the first layer of soil to moisten the foundation. Fifth, the plant is removed from the old pot. This is a critical step, as improper action can cause damage to the root system. Finally, circular manipulation must be performed to twist the plants upside down out of the pot. At this point, the individual may notice that the roots of the plant are tangled. Therefore, the sixth step is to untangle the young roots and trim off the old and dry roots to ensure adequate growth in the new pot. Finally, the plant is placed in its new pot centrally, and then soil or potting mix is added: this should be enough to cover all the roots of the transplanted plant. Next, the soil should be compacted and then watered to stimulate the plant’s growth. In addition, the use of fertilizer is recommended so that the organism’s adaptation to the new environment will be more rapid.

Remote Care

Unlike animals, plants are often in one place all the time. It makes no sense to take a houseplant on vacation or give it to a shelter since it is expected to exist effectively under sufficient fertilizing conditions. To put it another way, before going on vacation, an owner should take care of all the conditions so that during his or her absence, the plant will be able to survive. It is essential to consider the type of plant: succulents, for example, usually do not require any severe conditions and can survive for a few weeks of independent existence.

To keep the soil moist and prevent excessive evaporation, take the plants away from windows and expose them to sunlight. If the varieties of plants allow it, they can be arranged to form a suitable microclimate for coexistence. It is essential to choose a suitable room in which sufficient coolness is combined with the availability of fresh air and light. To maintain moisture in the room, it is possible to put a few buckets of water near the plants: the evaporation of water will saturate the local air with moisture, which will be helpful in the plants in a long autonomous existence. If the house has an air conditioner and humidifier, one can leave them on to create a favorable temperate room climate. In addition, plants should be watered before leaving, and care should be taken to provide access to water during the vacation season. The solution to this problem can be either automatic watering systems or the use of a wick agricultural technique, in which a piece of twisted cloth moistened with water is dipped with one end into the soil and the other end into a container of water: due to the physics of communicating vessels, the moisture will be transported to the soil on its own. Finally, if appropriate, one can always ask a neighbor to take care of the plants during vacation.


To summarize, it is important to emphasize the general fastidiousness of houseplants. It has been mentioned many times in the research paper that houseplants require special conditions of light, moisture, soil acidity, and fertilizer. Adhering to the proper criteria is vital to maintaining quality care for houseplants; if not, they will die. Furthermore, several vital signals have been shown to indicate the development of pathological conditions throughout the plant body. Therefore, it is imperative to manage such problems proactively to keep the whole plant healthy.

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