Basic Indoor Gardening Guides
June 11, 2017 3:40 PM   Subscribe

For the first time ever, I have potted plants in my apartment! I have four different varieties: a hosta, 3 sweet potato vines, an unknown succulent, and some basil. I'm totally new to this; I'd like to read something that will give me the basic rundown for how to take care of indoor potted plants. What are your favorite beginner's guides for the care and keeping of houseplants?
posted by ocherdraco to Home & Garden (9 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
There is a series of books by D.G. Hessayon (available online and in stores) that covers all manner of plants. Your hosta is a perennial. If you want to give it a chance of surviving year on year, put it outside in the fall and dig it (pot and all) into a bed. It needs to go dormant. Otherwise it's likely to have one good season and will start to look ill. Your sweet potato vines and your basil need all the bright, hard sunlight you can pour on them. They're sadly not really ideal for indoor plants. They are also generally annuals.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 3:51 PM on June 11, 2017 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: I should note that I do not have access to outdoor planting space. Hence my question's focus on houseplants!
posted by ocherdraco at 3:53 PM on June 11, 2017

Succulents need very little water and should be in soil that drains easily. Their pots should have a hole in the bottom so that they don't stay too wet. Overwatering will cause them to rot and die.
posted by quince at 4:10 PM on June 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

The Indestructible Houseplant was given to me as a joke gift after I killed a mint plant (notoriously prolific and weedy, how did I end it??) but I have found it approachable, thorough, and something that really built my confidence back up to try to change my black thumb to a green one.
posted by Mizu at 5:01 PM on June 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

Crockett's Indoor Garden is great for the beginner.
posted by Napoleonic Terrier at 5:11 PM on June 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

For an online resource I like
There are a good number of caresheets for specific plants and posts on topics like low-light plants, succulents, pet-safe, etc.
posted by bobobox at 5:27 PM on June 11, 2017

Hosta are herbaceous perennials. They are expecting to die back and spring forth each year. They may limp along but they will never thrive as houseplants without a lot of effort and understanding. I recommend ditching the hosta and getting something like an anthurium or spathiphyllum that will give similar foliage and actually bloom and thrive indoors.
posted by SaltySalticid at 5:41 PM on June 11, 2017 [3 favorites]

In my experience, basil likes a decent amount of water and a lot of sun. It also likes to be cut back regularly. (Which also benefits you, since that means you get to make pesto.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:56 AM on June 12, 2017

I've been using instagram for learning about houseplants (houseplantjournal and houseplantclub are two good ones). And I went from knowing nothing about plants to having a window absolutely filled with them over the past year. It's so much fun, like little science experiments. I like instagram because I can post questions about plants and get replies on how to care for them, any problems I'm having getting them grow, and people will reply because those people REALLY LOVE their houseplants. lol.

Houseplant Journal website also has some good articles for beginners.
posted by ilovewinter at 8:14 AM on June 15, 2017

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