Home Life & Style Monty Don shares the ‘biggest mistake’ houseplant owners make which results in...

Monty Don shares the ‘biggest mistake’ houseplant owners make which results in no flowers


Spring’s arrival means most people will be spending more time outdoors in their gardens, but this means that gardeners need to take care not to neglect their houseplants.

Tropical houseplants such as orchids or peace lilies can begin dropping at this time of year, but Monty Don has warned against trying to revive plants by increasing their water intake. 

On his blog, Monty wrote: “There are, of course, a huge range of plants that can and are grown permanently indoors with a wide range of conditions best suited to them but by and large the biggest mistake people make with their houseplants is to overwater them.

“In fact that can be qualified – or refined – by saying most are overwatered at the roots but under-watered in the air.” 

Overwatering is the most common way most houseplants die in spring as most plant owners do not realise most plant soil needs to dry out between waterings, especially after winter. 

READ MORE: Top tips from a plant expert to keep houseplants alive while you’re on holiday

In winter, plants become dormant which means they require less water, but once spring arrives they begin becoming more active and growing again, so will likely need to be watered more. 

Plants can seem droopy at first as they do need more water, but owners then make the mistake of watering plant soil more resulting in the soil becoming soggy and overclogged which can cause the roots to suffocate. 

This can lead to the houseplant dropping, having yellow leaves, catching fungal diseases or completely killing the plant if houseplant owners do not water their plants properly. 

Monty explained: “Only water when the potting compost is totally dry and then it is better to soak them in a basin for 15 minutes, draining them completely before returning the pot to its position. 

“However the single most useful thing is to get hold of a really good mist sprayer holding at least a litre of water and with a trigger action. Use this twice a day to give your plants a really good spray so the foliage is running with moisture.”

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Rather than having a watering schedule, it is better to check a houseplant’s moisture levels and water as needed. 

To decide if a plant needs water, stick a finger into the soil and if it feels moist, you do not need to water but if it feels dry, it is time to water. 

Once your houseplant is being watered correctly, you also need to make sure it is not overheating by being placed in the wrong spot of the house. 

Monty said: “A coolish spot, out of direct sunlight is likely to be more congenial for all evergreen plants from tropical regions (but not desert cacti and succulents) than a south-facing window sill above a radiator.” 

Most houseplants need to be kept away from windows as their leaves can easily become scorched. They need somewhere humid where they can get the morning sun and are best placed near a window in a room where there is plenty of steam regularly. 

Moty added: “However this does mean placing them where very humid air is not going to damage furnishings or surfaces – which is why a bathroom or kitchen is likely to be more suitable than a living room.” 

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