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Houseplants brighten up our homes and bring joy on even the darkest winter days. To keep your indoor plants flourishing all year long, follow these six tips from Matt Stevens, a Horticulture Extension Agent in Nash County.

1. Tame the sunshine.
Make sure you know how much sunlight your plants need before you bring them home — and position them accordingly, says Stevens, who keeps a few philodendrons and clivia in his office. When in doubt, here’s a golden rule to follow: If your room is dark enough during the day that you need to turn on a reading light, then your plant probably needs more sunlight. 

2. Find your watering balance.
One of the most common mistakes that Stevens sees is under and overwatering. Once you know what your plants need, create a watering schedule. And be sure to keep an eye on them: Wilted and discolored leaves are a sure sign that your routine needs to be adjusted. When in doubt, feel the soil.

3. Use a water-soluble fertilizer.
Houseplants are prone to tip-burn, which is when the tips of their leaves turn dry and brown. This most commonly occurs when there is a nutrient deficiency. To avoid this, Steven suggests using a water-soluble fertilizer. But, like watering, be sure not to overdo it: “Pay attention to the plants,” Stevens says. “If the plants look healthy and green, and they’re growing fine, then there’s no need to load up on fertilizer.”

4. Loosen up those roots and learn to repot.
Who wants a stressed-out houseplant? Repotting may seem tricky, but it’s crucial in order to keep plants happy and healthy. Some houseplants need to be re-potted yearly, but some slack growers can remain in the same dwelling place for longer periods. If you see roots at the drainage hole or find roots at the surface of your plant, it’s time to move to a bigger pot.

5. Whip out your pruning shears.
Pulling old leaves from your indoor plant is just as important as pruning your outdoor plants; it promotes growth and prevents pests from settling in. “For most plants, it’s a good idea,” Stevens says. “If they’ve got older leaves that are declining or turning yellow, you can take those off.”

6. Avoid pesky pests.
One sign that pests have made their way into your houseplant’s territory is leaf holes. Organic pesticides and applying the proper fertilization techniques are a good way to avoid this, and the sooner you put a stop to the infiltration, the better.

Have more questions? Contact the NC Cooperative Extension of Nash County: (252) 459-9810 or

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Anderson is a spring 2020 editorial intern.