When To Fertilize, Repot, and Revive Your Houseplants

woman inspecting houseplants for bugs

Your houseplants can start to look pretty tired and lackluster if you don’t fertilize or repot them once in a while. Inconsistent watering or dry air can also have them looking less than perky, and a little bit of houseplant rehab might be in order. If your houseplants aren’t looking so hot these days, take a gander through this guide to give them a new ‘leaf on life’.

When Is The Best Time To Repot Houseplants

As houseplants grow, their roots expand and will eventually outgrow their smaller containers and become rootbound. While some plants, like the spider plant, don’t mind being rootbound for a while, most plants benefit from being given a slightly bigger pot every year or two. Signs of rootbound plants include roots poking out of the top or bottom of containers and moisture getting absorbed from the soil too quickly after watering. 

Spring or early summer is the best time to repot them because it’s right at the beginning of their growth spurt. Many plants enter a period of dormancy when the days get shorter, but in our California climate you can certainly still repot your houseplant during our mild fall or winter seasons.

man fertilizing houseplants

Fertilizing Your Houseplants

Your houseplants derive their nutrients from the soil, but if they’re sitting in the same pot of soil forever, they’re going to run out of food. Adding fertilizer to the soil helps replenish your houseplants’ available nutrients, so they’re always properly nourished. After all, those nutrients are essential for plants to perform their basic functions, like developing their roots and sprouting new leaves. 

Now, there are many different fertilizers available, formulated for all sorts of different plants. While you can certainly use an all-purpose fertilizer formulated for houseplants, sometimes it’s good to use a formula tailored to a specific kind of plant. For example, different fertilizer blends are available for tropical plants, orchids, citrus, succulents and cacti, and more.

The best time to begin fertilizing is in spring when growth becomes most active. You can use slow-release formulas that release small amounts over time or liquid fertilizers for a quick boost. Some plants are heavier feeders than others and require more frequent fertilizer applications, while others don’t need much at all. Feel free to ask any of our plant experts at Living Color Garden Center if you’re unsure how often to fertilize your specific houseplants. Now, let’s discuss how to revive a tired-looking plant.

watering houseplants

Reviving A Stressed Houseplant

Did you forget to water for a while or maybe you came back from vacation to a limp, tired houseplant? Or perhaps the air conditioning in your house is drying out the leaves? Not to worry—there are quick ways to give your houseplants a boost. 

If your plant pot has drainage holes on the bottom, bottom-up watering will work wonders for reviving your plant. Fill a basin with water and place the pot directly in it. The moisture will get soaked up from the bottom of the pot and go straight to the roots, hydrating your plant much faster than the traditional watering method. 
Tropical houseplants like Monstera deliciosa or Philodendron cordatum are accustomed to humid environments, and their leaves will start to get crispy if the air is too dry. Using a plug-in humidifier can help to supplement moisture in the air, or you can bring your plants into the bathroom while you crank up the shower on hot, filling the room up with steam. You can also try putting your plants on a tray full of pebbles and an inch or two of water, and the moisture will slowly evaporate and rise up toward the leaves.

wiping down leaves of houseplant

Plants with larger leaves will appreciate a wipe down once or twice per month with a damp cloth to remove any dust. Not only does this help to keep the leaves looking shiny and bright, but it also helps the leaves soak in CO2 and release fresh oxygen more efficiently. 

When it comes time to repot your houseplant, Living Color has an incredible selection of gorgeous pottery for indoors and outdoors. Visit us at our garden center in Fort Lauderdale to see our newest styles of plant containers!

Sharing is caring!