House plants are timeless decorations that bring life and colour into your home. They also act as natural air purifiers by filtering out carbon dioxide, which creates a more hospitable living environment. However, plants are meant for the outdoors. They’ll need extra care and attention if you want to bring them indoors. Follow these essential tips on how to look after house plants and keep them healthy for years to come.

House plants in a living room setting

1. Know Your Plant Species

Familiarity with different plant species is the most important part of house plant maintenance. Each species has unique water and sunlight requirements. Homeowners generally choose plants with simple needs, such as indirect light exposure and infrequent watering.

Knowledge of different plant species is imperative for households with young children and pets. Many house plants are poisonous to humans and animals, including popular species like aloe vera, philodendrons and peace lilies. If you’re worried about toxicity, narrow your options to these plants:

  • Spider Plants
  • Prayer Plants
  • Boston Ferns
  • African Violets
  • Moth Orchids
  • Succulents
  • Cacti
  • Edible herbs (basil, parsley, dill, chives)

Fortunately, all the above plant species are also low-maintenance. They don’t require much direct sunlight or water to survive in indoor environments. These species have all the qualities of a good house plant.

dog licking woman's face while surrounded by house plants in a living room setting

2. Avoid Overwatering

Speaking of low-maintenance plants, you need to avoid overwatering. Generally, you should water most plants every 10 to 14 days during spring and summer growing seasons. However, plants from dry climates like cacti and succulents rarely need to be watered at all. This factor is another reason you must be familiar with your plant species.

House plants need even less water during the autumn and winter months. Their growth rates slow down significantly and some species go dormant. Therefore, they require less water to stay hydrated and healthy.

If you’re unsure how much water to use, you can always perform a simple soil test. Healthy earth has a rich dark colour and a crumbly texture. If the dirt looks and feels dry, add a little bit of water. Just remember — under-watering is always better than overwatering. Under-watering is easily reversible, but overwatering is not.

pothos (devils ivy) house plant with watering can on windowsill

3. Watch for Infestations

Neglected house plants often fall victim to pest infestations, so you must closely monitor signs of insect activity. The most common plant pests in the UK are aphids, spider mites, fungus gnats and mealybugs. You might not be able to see any bugs, but you can still identify a pest infestation by the following signs:

  • Sudden stoppage of growth
  • Holes or spots on the leaves
  • Leaf or stem discolouration
  • Wilting or drooping flowers

If the infestation is still in its early stages, you can stop it by cutting off the infected areas and spraying a bug-eliminating soap over the rest of the plant. The most important thing is to prevent the invaders from spreading to other plants. It might be necessary to throw away one or two plants to save the rest of the group.

4. Utilise Artificial Lighting When Necessary

Providing consistent sunlight can be difficult — especially in the UK’s rainy climate. You can put your plants near windows to give them more sunlight, but some houses don’t get much throughout the day. If your home has this problem, you can always utilise alternative light sources to compensate for the lack of natural light.

Artificial light fixtures allow you to adjust the amount of lighting each plant receives, which gives you much more control over your house plant maintenance. They will be especially useful during the winter months when there is less daylight.

5. Regulate Your Home’s Temperature

Controlling your home’s temperature is another critical part of houseplant maintenance. Plants don’t like it when their environment’s temperature constantly changes. As a general rule, most house plants thrive between 15 and 24° Celsius during the day and can tolerate slightly cooler temperatures at night. You need to keep your home within this range.

Temperature regulation can be difficult for homes with draughty windows, vents and radiators. Since plants need to stay near windows to soak up sunlight, you must use caulk or weather stripping to seal the draughts. If those efforts don’t work, it might be necessary to install replacement windows.

6. Group Plants Together

An effective way to regulate the climate for your house plants is by grouping similar species together. They will create their own tiny microbiome and help each other manage the surrounding environment. This strategy is most effective during the autumn and winter months when the air is naturally cold and dry.

You might notice your house becoming more humid, but humidity is a good thing. Most plant species love nothing more than warm air filled with moisture. They will thrive in their small ecosystems and fill your house with life. You can also purchase a humidifier to amplify the effects.

house plants in a row on a shelving unit

7. Get Rid of Dust

Your house plants will slowly collect dust, just like everything else in the house. A layer of dust won’t kill the plants, but it inhibits their ability to soak up sunlight and lessens their appearance. Remember to perform frequent dustings on and around your plants. Wash it off with a soft microfiber cloth or a gentle dust brush.

For any plants that need a more thorough cleaning, simply wipe the leaves off with lukewarm water and gently scrub them with a non-acidic cleaning solution. A small amount of hand soap or dish detergent will do the job. If you perform frequent dustings, you will likely never have to wash your plants.

8. Remember to Prune

Pruning is an overlooked part of plant maintenance. Although it’s great that your plants are growing so fast, you need to trim their branches now and then. The best time to prune for substantial reshaping is late winter or early spring when the weather warms up and their growth rates accelerate.

However, since house plants aren’t drastically affected by seasonal changes, you can lightly prune them at any time of the year. Remove any dead or damaged leaves, cut back the longest branches by a few inches and leave the healthiest-looking flowers untouched. Don’t be afraid to rely on your gut instincts — if something doesn’t look right, cut it off.

9. Repot Overgrown Plants

If any plants become too overgrown, you need to move them to bigger pots. An easy way to tell if your plants are overgrown is by checking the root system. If the roots are circling inside the container instead of sprouting outward and downward, it’s time to switch to a bigger pot.

However, you should avoid repotting your houseplants during the autumn and winter — they’ll have difficulty acclimating to a new environment when their growth rates are so slow. You could risk killing the plants. It’s best to wait until spring comes around and everything starts to bloom before repotting anything.

Take Your House Plant Maintenance Seriously

There’s a lot more to plant maintenance than watering and lighting. These maintenance tasks are nonnegotiable if you want to keep your plants happy and healthy for the foreseeable future. Take things one day at a time and give each plant its required care and attention.

rose morrison gardening expert

Rose Morrison is a home living writer with over five years experience writing in the industry. She is the managing editor of and loves to cover home renovations and decor to inspire everyone to live their best DIY life. When she isn’t writing, you’ll find her baking something to satisfy her never-ending sweet tooth.