Houseplant Hacks and How to Make Your Plant Babies Thrive

Shannon Quinn - January 30, 2022

Plants are the new pets. Once you start taking care of plants, sometimes one just isn’t enough. So if you’re looking into buying some plant babies for your house or apartment, look no further than out houseplant hacks. These tips and tricks will help your plants thrive.

These seedlings are benefitting from sitting in watering trays. Credit: Shutterstock

30. Watering Trays and Humidity Mats Keep Plants Moist Longer

If you plan to go on vacation, you obviously won’t be around to water your plants. That puts a lot of stress on any doting plant mom or dad. A great solution for that would be to use a watering tray or a humidity mat. This allows your terracotta potted plants to be watered from the bottom up. There are also plastic humidity trays with lids that are made to keep the moisture inside of seedlings for much longer. Some plant owners even decide to keep their pots in watering trays at all times because it is simply easier to pour water into the tray rather than the plant itself. Just keep in mind that you don’t want your plants sitting in water at all times, unless it’s an aquatic plant. So allow your terra cotta pots to dry out periodically.

How much sunlight does your plant baby need? Credit: Shutterstock

29. Check to see How Much Sun Your Plant Really Needs

Not all plants are created equal. Some love to have the full sunlight, while others need partial shade. Most of the time, the tag from the garden center will tell you how much sun it needs. But if you’re given a plan without that information, make sure to do your research beforehand to see how much sunlight your plant truly enjoys. Find a spot in your home that accommodates their needs, and gather it near other plants that need the same amount of sunlight.

Stop a plant from bleeding sap by using styptic. Credit: Summer Rayne Oaks on YouTube

28. Use Styptic for Cuttings

In case you haven’t heard of it, Styptic is a powdery substance that is used to help stop bleeding when you’re cut. But it’s not just for humans. You can use Styptic for cutting plants before you propagate them. Some people like to use rooting hormone instead. However, you might already have some Styptic in your first aid kit or you may be able to find it at your local pharmacy. You can also make some at home with baking powder and corn meal.

Stop root rot in its tracks by using hydrogen peroxide. Credit: Shutterstock

27. Hydrogen Peroxide Can Stop Root Rot

Root rot can be a huge issue if you over-water your plants. Once plants have been sitting in water for too long, the leaves will begin to turn yellow. But did you know that hydrogen peroxide can fix that? Just mix together a solution of water and hydrogen peroxide, and pour it into the plan. The bubbles will help to bring more oxygen to the roots. It also kills off the bacteria that causes root rot. After that, give your plant a break from watering it, since it clearly had too much moisture in the first place.

It’s possible to take cuttings from a vegetable to create a new plant. Credit: Shutterstock

26. Re-Grow Produce and Herbs From the Grocery Store

Did you know that you can grow brand new fruits, vegetables, and herbs using cuttings from the grocery store? This is a form of propagation. Herbs are the easiest to regrow. All you have to do is take a cutting and soak the ends in water until roots start to form. Then, you can transplant it into a little pot of soil. And voila, free herbs for life. Fruits and vegetables are a bit more complex. Usually, you need to buy organic vegetables to make this work, since others have been sprayed with chemicals. If you want to learn more on how to do this, check out this guide.

Be sure to rotate your plants so that they don’t become lopsided. Credit: Shutterstock

25. Rotate Your Plants

If you keep your plants sitting still their entire lives, you may start to notice that they lean towards the sunlight. When you let this good, it can become dramatic, like small trees that lean horizontally. In order to avoid this, all you have to do is rotate the plant so that the other sides are exposed to sunlight. Gardening experts recommend that you rotate your plants anywhere from every three days to every two weeks, depending on the plant. So be sure to do some research online to find out what your particular plant baby needs.

Metal tea strainers can be a great tool to use in propagation. Credit: Summer Rayne Oakes

24. Tea Strainers For Propagation

If you’re thinking about propagating plants around your home, you might quickly run out of containers to hold them in. A YouTube blogger named Summer Rayne Oakes recommends using metal tea strainers for propagation. This only works in a hydroponic setting, because you have a cup of water, and the plant itself will sit inside of the tea strainer. Once the plant has grown its roots, you can transplant it to a pot with soil.

Don’t let your plant babies die at the hands of a heater or air conditioner. Credit: Shutterstock

23. Keep Plants Away From Heaters and Air Conditioners

It’s best to give your plants a space where they can maintain the same temperature at all times. Because of this, it’s a bad idea to put your plants anywhere near a heater or air conditioner. You don’t want your plants to get too hot or too cool. This can sometimes also cause dehydration, which is yet another plant killer.

Don’t forget to dust your leaves. Credit: Shutterstock

22. Dust Off the Leaves

Believe it or not, you need to clean the leaves of your plant just like you would dust furniture. Houseplants use their leaves to convert sunlight into energy, and it’s also how they absorb oxygen. All you need to do to clean them is spray with a light mist of water, and use a cloth to wipe down the leaves. There are also sprays that are formulated for certain plants, like fiddle fig cleaning spray.

Soaking terrracotta pots helps to bring more moisture to a plant. Credit: Shutterstock

21. Soak Your Terracotta Pots

Terracotta pots are made from a porous material, which means that they soak up water. If you have a plant that loves water, you should consider soaking your terracotta pot before planting it. All you need to do is let it soak in a bucket of water overnight. However, if you are planting a desert plant that doesn’t like a lot of water, like cactus or succulents, you should probably skip this step.

Once you find a good spot for your plant, let it stay. Credit: Shutterstock

20. Don’t Move Your Plants Around the House

Finding the perfect amount of sunlight for your plant might be tricky. So once you find a good location for a plant, it’s best to let it stay in one place. It’s good to rotate a plant every few days to ensure that it doesn’t get lopsided, so long as it’s in the same spot in your house or apartment. Obviously, this can’t be avoided if you’re moving to a new home. Moving a plant won’t necessarily kill them, but it will give them a shock to their system. It can stunt their growth and damage their overall health.

Consider adding pebbles to the top of your container plants. Credit: Shutterstock

19. Use Pebbles For Drainage

There are a lot of benefits to adding pebbles to your container garden pots. First of all, they look really pretty. But on a practical note, they fend off flies, and improve water retention. This can be really helpful if you’re not sure how much water to put in your plant. It ensures proper drainage, and helps prevent root rot.

It’s good to add some water to your potting medium beforehand. Credit: Shutterstock

18. Moisten the Potting Medium

Along with soaking your terracotta pots, here’s another way to bring extra moisture to your plants. A lot of people will mix a potting medium with their soil like coconut, peat, or pearlite. Just add water to your potting medium when you pour it out of the bag. This will help you form the soil with your hands, which makes it easier to plant your new little baby in. Once the soil is pre-watered, it will help to keep the plant moist for a longer period of time.

Timers are a God send for plant parents on a busy schedule. Credit: Summer Rayne Oakes

17. Use Digital Automated Timers

If you plan to have indoor grow lights in your house, you probably don’t want them to be on 24/7. Most plants need between 6 to 12 hours of light per day. If you go on vacation, you’re not going to be around to turn the lights on and off. That’s why a digital or automated timer can be a huge life saver. Once you have this timer, you can adjust it to suit your lifestyle and ensure that your plants live their best lives.

Don’t throw away your boiled water. Credit: Shutterstock

16. Save Your Boiled Water

A great hack for giving your plants an added boost of nutrition is to save the leftover water the next time you boil vegetables or eggs. Obviously, let the water cool first. Not only will your plants love it, but it also means that you’re using less water by recycling the boiled water from the kitchen.

Some plant owners like to use heating pads to maintain the plant’s temperature. Credit: Green House Hunt

15. Heating Pads

If you’re interested in trying to grow the roots of your plants more quickly, consider getting yourself a heating pad. By setting it to 70 degrees, it’s not getting too hot compared to the average room temperature, but you’re also ensuring that it gets the heat it needs. This is especially true for tropical plants that are used to thriving in warmer weather. It can also protect your plants from drafts in the winter time if they’re sitting on a windowsill, or if they’re outside in a greenhouse.

Keep your diseased plants away from everything else to prevent spread. Credit: Shutterstock

14. Isolate Plants Infected With Disease or Bugs

If you start to notice that your plant’s leaves are becoming discolored, or if you notice any pests that have begun making their home there, immediately separate the plant from your collection. When you keep them all together, you’ll increase the odds that the disease can spread from one plant to the other. Once the isolated plant has been cured, you can return it back to its home.

Coffee grounds makes great fertilizer. Credit: Shutterstock

13. Fertilize Your Plants With Coffee Grounds

Coffee drinkers already know how many coffee grounds get tossed in the garbage every day. Instead of throwing them out, you can actually use them as fertilizer. It increases the soil acidity, aerates the soil, and it helps keep away slugs and ants. If you use this as a fertilizer on outdoor plants, it also helps to attract earthworms.

If you over-water your plants, it can cause root rot. Credit: Shutterstock

12. Don’t Water Them Every Single Day

If you own a pet, you’re already used to giving them food and water every single day. Obviously, as a living thing, you need to tend to them daily. So some newbie plant owners make the mistake of believing the same needs to be done with their plants. In reality, if you overwater your plants, it can cause root rot, and mold may grow. The amount of water that every plant needs is different. So it’s best to feel the soil with your fingers. If it’s still moist, then you probably don’t need to give it any more water. But if it’s bone dry, it’s time to water it again.

You may need to increase the humidity in your home. Credit: Shutterstock

11. Increase the Humidity in the Room

When the seasons change, so does the humidity. You might find that during certain times of the year, the air in your home may get very dry. Just like your dry skin you feel on a frigid winter day, your plants are feeling that too. Tropical house plants love a humidity level of 50 to 60%, but the average household is only 30-40%. A good way to combat this is to spritz your plants with water, or even have a humidifier in the room. You can also put the plant in a shallow tray of water, like we mentioned earlier on this list.

Choose the right soil for your plant babies. Credit: Shutterstock

10. Use the Proper Soil For Your Plant

Most new houseplant owners will go to the garden center and pick up the nearest bag of potting soil. But you need to be careful, because not every plant is created equal. Keep in mind that certain plants, like succulents and cacti, grow in a desert climate. So they actually do better with a dry, sandy soil. Always do a little Google search beforehand to make sure you’re getting the right soil for your new plant.

Make sure your plants have drainage holes. Credit: Shutterstock

9. Make Sure Your Plant Pots Have Drainage Holes

This next tip might sound obvious to a lot of you out there. But it’s a common newbie mistake to put a plant into a beautiful pot without a drainage hole. Many garden centers will even sell pots without the holes. So what gives? The perfect pot has a hole in the bottom, and sits on a tray base to catch the extra water. This way, you’ll never over-water your plant, because the excess water will pour out onto the tray or plate.

These small plastic squares can help cut down on mess. Credit: Summer Rayne Oaks

8. Potting Soil Mesh Screens

If you plan to pot a lot of plants in your home, you might already notice how the soil and planting medium seeps through the bottom of the drainage hole. This is normal, but it makes a big mess. A plant blogger named Summer Rayne Oakes recommends finding plastic mesh screens from the craft store and cutting them into small squares. Then place the mesh screen at the bottom of the pot before you add the soil and plant. This helps to cut back on the amount of dirt that seeps out of the bottom of the pot, and it makes things cleaner overall.

Credit: Summer Rayne Oaks

7. Under-The-Shelf LED Lighting

A lot of people want to keep houseplants in their home, but they don’t have enough natural sunlight coming through their windows. This limits you to how many plants you can own, and where you can place them. A great solution to this is under-the-shelf LED lighting. This comes in a long bar that can be attached above a shelf. If you would like to know more, check out this guide called 3 Ways to Increase Light in Your Home From Houseplants.

Pure castile soap helps break up soil clods. Credit: Shutterstock

6. Pure Castile Soap

Sometimes, when you get a plant from the store, the root ball is so tough, you can’t break it apart with your hands. Unfortunately, these are soil clods that make it very difficult for you to transplant it into a new pot. One way to fix this is by using soap to break up those soil quads before transplanting. You just want to make sure that you use an eco-friendly and non-toxic product like pure Castile soap. Just make sure you find something non-scented to avoid bringing in any chemicals from the perfumes in the soap.

It doesn’t have to cost a fortune to pot your plants. Credit: Shutterstock

5. Secondhand Bowls and Vases Help Save a Ton of Money

When you go to the Garden Center, you’ll probably notice the vases and bowls cost a small fortune. They go anywhere from $20 to $80 a piece. So if you’re planning on having a large family of plant babies, that really adds up. An easy solution to this is to simply go to your local thrift store. Goodwill is filled with bowls and vases that only cost $1 to $5 each. You could also repurpose items. For example, an old fish tank or a large glass vase can be transformed into a plant terrarium.

This product called Mosquito Bits helps to get rid of both mosquitos and fungus gnats. Credit: Shutterstock

4. Here’s How to Get Rid of Fungus Gnats

One of the most common pests people experience with their plants are fungus gnats. All you need to do to get rid of them is to buy a product called Mosquito Bits, and let them sit in your soil. This will prevent the gnats from reproducing. If Mosquito Bits are not available in your country, you may have to change the soil you’re using. Watch this video for more information.

It’s only a matter of time before you find pests on your plants. Credit: Shutterstock

3. Learn About IPM – Integrated Pest Management

Once you become a true Plant Lady, your house might start to look like a jungle. It’s only a matter of time before you end up getting insects like spider mites in your house. You can always buy chemicals to solve the issue, but some plant owners want to solve the problem naturally. Some experts recommend a process called “integrated pest management”, which is when you introduce other insects to your houseplants as a way to keep away the bad ones. This next step might not be necessary for a lot of people, especially if you’re only planning to have a few plants around your house. But if you’re interested in knowing more, check out this guide on integrated pest management.

Credit: Summer Rayne Oakes

2. Use Pantyhose to Hold Orchids Together

In the wild, orchids don’t grow in the ground like most flowers. They actually anchor themselves to trees. They’re not parasites, but rather epiphytes, which survive on the air and sunlight just like any other plant. At the Gothenburg Botanic Gardens, they use nylon pantyhose to hold the orchids to a piece of wood. This is much better than using wires, which could cut into the stems. If you’re trying to attach an orchid to wood, we highly recommend you do the same.

This last tip is only for planting pros. Credit: Summer Rayne Oakes

1. Sunk Planter in Sand Help Protect Temperamental Plants

This next tip might only work if you have a greenhouse or a large space to keep your houseplants in a plastic container. But there are some temperamental plants out there, like moss, which are difficult to water. They may need to be watered from the bottom up. If you have a collection of plants like these, you could follow in the steps of the Gothenburg Botanic Gardens, who have fitted their terracotta pots into sand. They water the sand so that the plants can absorb the moisture.