6 Essentials You Need For Your Indoor Plant Care Kit

When first starting with houseplants, you want to be well-prepared to keep them thriving and healthy. You can get special plant misters, rooting powder, pruning scissors, moisture meters, and many more plant gadgets – but do you really need all of this for healthy plants? From my experience, no expensive gadgets are needed for healthy plants.

The essentials for a plant care kit include an appropriate watering can, fertilizer, pots with drainage, good soil mix, drainage matter, and a plant identification app or any other way to identify the plant types.

In this post, I will go through what the basic but proven essentials for your plant care kit are and what other items are just nice to have. There is no need to spend a fortune on special plant gadgets to make your plants happy!

What Do You Need For Plant Care?

In all the years I have looked after houseplants, I have never used any special gadget such as a moisture meter or rooting powder, and my plants were thriving nonetheless.

Actually, I do believe that if you don’t only rely on gadgets telling you what your plants need, you are going to learn much more about plants and how to care for them. The only “gadget” I have used so far has been plant identification apps and I will explain why in a minute.

First, let’s quickly look at what the main points of plant care really are:

  • Your houseplants need water and light, these requirements vary according to plant types
  • Your houseplants need some sort of container to grow in, usually filled with soil
  • Your houseplants need nutrients

This is the basics of what houseplants need. Now, let’s dive right into the 6 essentials I think you truly need to achieve good plant care. After these, I will also go into a couple of nice-to-haves for extra plant care.

Reading recommendation: Want to know more about what type of nutrients plants need or why air plays an important role in their roots? Learn more in my post about what plants need!

Plant Identification App: Know Your Plant Types

Knowing what plant types you have is essential for their well-being as you need to know what water and light requirements each plant has. A plant identification app comes in handy to figure out easily what plant types you have at home, especially when the label from the store does not specifiy the plant type.

There are a few good plant identifier apps out there as well as some plant care apps that have an identifier integrated. I’ve reviewed the best of each in the following posts:

I usually label each plant with a waterproof marker either directly on the inner pot or on a piece of tape to always remember the plant type. That’s also a good practice when you propagate plants, so you always know what type it is and when you planted them.

Pots With Drainage: Use Plant Pots With Drainage Holes

Your houseplants need a suitable container to grow in. Now, anything can serve as a suitable plant pot if it has good drainage. Drainage is the one essential factor that makes any pot a good environment for your plant to grow in.

Be as creative as you like when choosing a container! From plain, classic terracotta pots to thrifted pots, bowls, vases, old metal boxes or whatever other decorative container you find – it all works.

What you have to make sure is to either choose a pot with a hole at the bottom and place it on a saucer such as with most terracotta pots, or to place the plant in an inner pot with drainage holes which is then placed in a decorative outer pot with no holes.

For inner pots, I tend to keep the plastic nursery pots most plants and herbs are sold in. By doing this, you recycle them and don’t have to pay for new inner pots. Another easy recycling option is to keep plastic containers from the kitchen such as empty yogurts, plastic bottles, and whatever else. Just wash them out, poke a few holes into the bottom, cut them into size if necessary and ready is the DIY inner pot!

Now, you might wonder why drainage is so important for plants? Because understanding the concept of drainage is so important, I have written a whole post about that topic explaining why drainage matters and how to create drainage in any type of pot. Check it out!

Good Soil Mix: Look For Organic Soil

Now that you have chosen beautiful pots, it is time to fill them with good soil. I recommend always buying organic soil as it is better for the environment. Any type of regular houseplant soil shoud do the trick and it comes in handy to have a bag of soil at home in case you need to add some soil to a pot or repot some plants.

One key factor about the soil is how well it can retain moisture and how well it drains out excess water which leads me to my next essential for plant care:

Drainage Matter: Create Drainage and Moisture Retention in the Soil

It is very easy to mix regular store-bought soil with some drainage matter that helps improve the overall qualities of your soil. There is no need to buy expensive materials, some shells, rocks, expanded clay, or orchid bark works just fine.

I have made a separate post about how to easily mix a good soil mix with drainage matter in no time. Read on to find out how to mix your own soil!

Watering Can: Preferably Choose a Long, Narrow Spout

Watering cans come in various colors and shapes. Why not add a pop of vibrant color to your living room? (Image source: author photo)

You will be watering your houseplants every week, having an appropriate watering can is another essential.

Generally speaking, you can use any type of waterproof container to water your plants, be it a plastic bottle, a vase, or a mug. Though I recommend using a specific watering can for your houseplants. Simply because their long, narrow spouts are made to precisely water plants in a certain spots and you will also not use the can for anything else which is important, too. A smaller sized can comes in handy as well.

You will be using fertilizer for watering your plants so you probably don’t want any residues of fertilizer in a mug or a pitcher which you use for other stuff, too. Also, if you have pets such as cats, make sure they can’t reach the watering can and drink out of it.

Once you have the right water can, try to always use water at room temperature. It is best to fill your watering can and let it sit for a while until you use it.

Tip: Check out more helpful advice on how to water your plants in my complete guide about the best watering practices for houseplants!

Fertilizer: Provide Your Houseplants With Nutrients

When you buy a new houseplant, the soil is usually full of nutrients. It is only about after one year that the soil will be completely drained of nutrients, this depends a bit on how much the plant grows.

Hence, after a year you can either repot your plant into fresh soil or start using fertilizer. I recommend using organic fertilizer to avoid build-up of toxins.

Use fertilizer at the max every second week in summertime and none in winter as the plants usually need some rest in the cooler months of the year.

Tip: If you don’t want to use any store-bought fertilizer, there are plenty of natural fertilizing options for your houseplants that you can experiment with. Intrigued? I have summed up and explained the main natural fertilizing ingredients for plant water in my post linked here!

Bonus Tip for Plant Care: Make Plant Care a Habit

Another essential for plant care is not an item but still important: Make plant care a habit!

Plants love routine. They like to get just the amount of water they need regularly, and they like to just grow in the same spot. Try not to move your plants around all the time and check on them regularly to see if they need water or anything else.

Items That are Nice to Have for Plant Care

With the above-mentioned essentials, you are more than well-prepared for proper plant care. Still, if you want to make that extra effort to spoil your houseplants, here are a few items that are nice to have for plant care.

Humidifier: Raise Humidity Levels During Winter

In winter, the humidity levels indoors are generally much lower due to heating. A lot of our common houseplants are tropical plants that prefer humid air and they become more prone to pests in very dry air. Hence, if you want to provide an ideal climate for your houseplants year-round, I recommend using a humidifier in the wintertime to keep the humidity level at around 60-70 percent.

This is not essential for your plants’ health but it does help a lot to keep pests away. In addition, humidity of 60-70 percent is also good for our skin and our lungs, so you are doing your own health a favor, too.

What about misting? The question might come up now whether a mister would be enough to provide some humidity? Unfortunately, plant misters look great but they have almost no effect. Learn more about why misting is more a myth than a must-do for your houseplants!

Growth Structures and Plant String: Support Your Plants Appropriately

If you have a climber among your green fellows, then it will be helpful to have some sort of growth structure or poles to attach them to once they start growing their vines.

A lot of the typical houseplants are actually climbers in their natural habitat and I am sure among your plant collection, you’ll find one or the other climber species. Among them are Philodendrons, Monsteras, Pothos, Hoyas, or also the Chinese Money Plant.

Giving them a support structure allows them to grow upwards and it allows you to control the way the grow and the shape they take. It’s a win-win situation.

To tie your plant’s branches or vines to a growth structure, or also just to tie some branches together if they dangle about, make sure you use appropriate plant string to avoid damaging the sensitive branches. Garden twine works well or any type of string or tape specifically made for plants.

Pruning Scissors: Prune Your Plants Gently

Pruning scissors are more relevant if you intend to propagate a lot of cuttings or are repotting and separating a plant into several pots. Cutting the occasional branch off with regular scissors is not gonna harm your plant, I’ve done that many times for example with kitchen scissors. However, specific pruning scissors are a bit gentler on the plant as they produce a very precise cut, not damaging any of the surrounding cells and fibers.

Generally, just try to use good scissors or a sharp knife whenever cutting anything off your plants. Please, do not tear branches or leaves off with your fingers because that’s the most damaging way by far.

More About Plant Care

What Houseplants Are Good For Beginners?

A lot of our common houseplants come from tropical climates and as such are masters of survival. If you are a plant beginner, there are so many very forgiving plant types that will thrive even if your green thumb is still being developed.

Find out what 9 plant types are a perfect match for a plant beginner and which one suits you in my post right here!

Do Plants Like to Be Touched?

Some plant aficionados swear that touching your plants has a huge positive effect on them, but does it really?

Plants generally like to be left to themselves but there are certain occasions when touching them is unavoidable. In my post, you’ll find out when and how touching your plants is actually good for them and when not. Enjoy reading!

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