Green thumbs always have a few tricks up their sleeves. Whatever your current houseplant frustration is, there’s probably a grower out there who came up with an innovative solution, after years of dealing with the very same issue. Read on for some of the best tried-and-true indoor gardening hacks around.
Use Ice Cubes to Water
Are you prone to overwatering, especially with small, delicate plants like orchids and succulents? A *cool* trick to keep you from drowning your houseplant babes is to water with ice cubes. Ice cubes deliver a slow and steady trickle of water to the soil as they melt, preventing the soil from getting too waterlogged. Plus, they’re conveniently pre-measured, so you’ll know you’re adding the same amount each week.
Get Free Houseplants from Food Scraps
Want to increase your plant collection without spending money? Food scraps are the answer. You can grow new plants by rooting or planting seeds from all kinds of kitchen scraps. A lot of them are fruits, herbs, and veggies that need to eventually move outdoors, but you CAN grow a really awesome tropical houseplant by rooting the top of a pineapple. And with a little more patience you can successfully grow an avocado tree from the pit. You can’t expect either of these to grow fruit indoors, but they’re fun to grow nonetheless.
Create Humidity with a Saucer of Water
Almost every time I write a houseplant growing guide, I recommend placing the pot on or near a saucer of water. As the water evaporates, it increases the humidity level around the plant, which is important for many indoor plants, and especially tropical ones. If you put the pot in the saucer, be sure to elevate the pot using a layer of pebbles to keep the drainage hole from becoming blocked and the roots from rotting in the standing water.
Use Plant Watering Spikes
Watering spikes keep your plants hydrated when you can’t (or forget) to water them for a period of time. There are a few different versions of watering spikes—you may have seen the terracotta variety that work with the addition of a recycled wine bottle. The water-filled wine bottle, is turned upside down and inserted into the mouth of the spike, where it acts as a reservoir. The water seeps slowly through the porous clay to moisten the soil.
You can also buy plastic hydro spikes very cheaply, and these work great to simplify watering. They work by capillary action, sucking water up a slender tube from a jar of water that’s set somewhere below the plant’s pot. (There’s a great demo here.) It essentially allows the plant to water itself as long as the jar stays full.
Group ‘Em Together
Houseplants get along best with some help from friends! Most houseplants, especially tropical ones, prefer higher humidity than most indoor environments provide. Plants release water vapor through their leaves during the process of transpiration, so grouping plants together allows them to create a little pocket of humidity in an otherwise dry house.