How to care for household plants

By Gregg Eyestone

It is nice to work with indoor plants. One doesn’t have to pay attention to the weather forecast.

You know that you will need to water them. Temperature is manageable indoors no matter the daily fluctuation.

Wind and other physical injuries are less common.

Indoor plants due have something in common with outdoor plants. They both are pretty much at rest right now.

Plants that are outdoors are dormant because of less available light energy and the low temperatures. Indoors the light energy is even less while the temperature is still relatively suitable for plants to be green. Our plants indoors need to be kept near dormancy. Survival and no growth is the mission of our indoor plants for the next three months.

The leaves are usually the main attraction for indoor plants. Remove any dirt or dust that will diminish their beauty. Wiping the leaves with a moist cloth will do the best job.

Putting them in the shower can be a quick method.    Water is the number one need of plants that we can control. Since plants are not actively growing, water is not needed frequently. Too frequent watering has killed more indoor plants than anything else. All containers must have drainage holes to allow the access water to drain from the potting media at each watering.

Generally, the potting media needs to be dry an inch deep in the container before considering adding water. If the plant is wilted, check for too much or too little moist soil.

I even pick my containers up to judge the weight. The plant in a light container may need water.

Forget about using any fertilizer until March or April for your indoor plants. Fertilizer is not beneficial until there is more sunlight. During the winter, we want the plants to rest. This gives gardeners a chance to rest as well.

K-State Research and Extension has a publication on watering. The “How To” is found in the “Watering Raised Beds, Berms, Containers, and Houseplants” publication.

It is available from the local office or on-line.

You can find out more information on this and other horticulture topics by going to the Riley County, K-State Research and Extension website at

Gregg Eyestone can be contacted at the Riley County office of K-State Research and Extension at 110 Courthouse Plaza in Manhattan by calling 785-537-6350 or by e-mailing

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