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How to Take Care of Houseplants + Their Benefits

Introducing my full guide on how to take care of houseplants, their health benefits, and what I do to keep my 100+ plants alive and thrive.

How to Take Care of Houseplants

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that my love for plants runs deep. It’s been a long time since I counted, but the last time I checked, I had over 100 plants, and it’s a growing collection. After my fur babies, my plant babies bring me so much joy and I just find such comfort in taking care of them and watching them grow.

While having this many plants might seem overwhelming and daunting for many, my collection grew slowly over the years and yours can too! I received many questions about how to take care of houseplants to keep them alive and healthy, and I’ll share my tips and tricks with you guys today.

Benefits of Houseplants

First, I just want to go over the benefits of having houseplants, because they are a form of therapy for me. This is why I don’t mind investing in my houseplants, because they are 100% worth it!

  • They purify the air. With so many toxins and chemicals in everyday products, indoor pollution is real. According to NASA, plants remove up to 87% of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) every 24 hours!
    • Best air purifying plants: snake plants, devil’s ivy, money tree, spider plant, dracaenas, golden pothos, areca palms, rubber plants
  • Introducing greenery indoors helps to lower your cortisol level. We all feel more calm and less stressed when we go hiking or listen to nature sounds. We can recreate this feeling at home with plants.
  • Plants actually reduce background noise if you live in a city or a noisy street! The leaves create a soft wall for sound to absorb, deflect, or refract on. How cool is that?
    • Best noise blocking plants: rubber plants, weeping figs, peace lilies, tall cacti, fiddle leaf fig, money trees
  • They remove carbon dioxide from the air so there’s more oxygen and we feel less tired and fatigued.

Where I Purchase My Plants

This is one of the most common questions I get because I have such a variety of plants. The answer is all over! Here are some of the places I’ve purchased my plants from:

  • Local nurseries: This is where most of my plants come from. I try not to shop at Home Depot or big brands, because I find that they are usually overpriced there, and it’s so much better to support local businesses! I’m really lucky in that I live in California and there are plant nurseries everywhere. Local nurseries are usually cheaper and you can usually negotiate prices! I make sure to be extra friendly when I buy plants for a possible discount.
  • Nextdoor, OfferUp, or Letgo: All of these sites and apps are where people can sell anything they want get rid of. I actually have an alert set up for plants, so I can jump on them when they are posted. You can usually negotiate prices on these apps, because people are usually moving and they just want to get rid of things.
  • Etsy: I’ve never bought a full plant on Etsy (although they are available), but it’s a great place to find clippings of plants that aren’t rooted, especially if you are looking for a specific plant that’s hard to find locally. It’s not the cheapest option and it can be risky, because clippings are delicate and they can easily die. However, I have had really great luck with them and my pilea, prayer plant, and philodendron have all rooted and thrived beautifully from this shop.
How to Take Care of Houseplants

The Basics of How to Take Care of Houseplants

While care instructions differ from plant to plant, MOST plants require similar care and I treat most of my plants the following way:

  • Lighting: While plants love light, bright, indirect light is the best with the exception of desert plants. That means near a well-lit window, within sunlight or in the shade next to it (for medium-low light plants). If there’s direct HOT sunlight on plants, especially in the summer, put a sheer curtain on the window so the plants receive diffused, filtered light without getting burnt. One exception is succulents and cacti. They love bright, direct light!
  • Water: While there is such a thing as under-watering, I find that many make the mistake of overwatering which can quickly kill the plants. I only water my plants once a week, and even less in the winter. Before watering, stick an inch of your finger in the soil. Only water if the soil has no moisture. Make sure to only use pots that have drainage holes!
  • Wipe the leaves: For leafy plants, dust can settle on them easily, just like furniture. This dust layer actually blocks the plants ability to photosynthesize, and makes the leaves look dull and the plant weaker while attracting pests. When you see dust settle, take a damp microfiber cloth and gently wipe off the individual leaves. You may be shocked at how much dirt comes off on the cloth. I’m really bad at remembering to clean my plant leaves, but try to do this every 2-3 months!
  • Fertilize during growing season: This is usually during the spring/summer for most plants. I use organic fertilizer (I love this one!) and add it to the watering can every 2-3 months between April and September. It really makes a huge difference!
  • Repot as the plants grow: Always research the plant to see how much soil space it needs, but once it outgrows its pot, it needs more space to grow to stay healthy. This is also a great chance to replace the soil in the pot, which I highly recommend.

Why Your Plant Might Be Dying

So you’ve followed all the tips, but your plant still looks brown or yellow, and seems to be shriveling up. Here are some common reasons why your plant may not be looking so healthy:

  • Overwatering or under-watering. Check my watering tip above.
  • Too much sunlight or too little. Also see above.
  • Bacteria in the soil. If you really can’t figure out what the heck is wrong with the plant, it might be worth replacing the soil and repotting. There could be bacteria in the soil inhibiting the plant from growing properly.
  • Dry leaves. Tropical plants like ferns and split leaf philodendrons require a lot of moisture in the air and are more high maintenance. Make sure to spray the leaves with water every few days so they don’t dry out, even with consistent watering. If you aren’t good at remembering or you are lazy, you can get a humidifier instead.

Salvaging Almost Dead Plants

How to Take Care of Houseplants

You can actually save most plants that are on their last leg by snipping off the healthy looking leaves and propagating them. I’ve done this many times with success, and it’s so exciting to have a plant come back to life after you thought you lost it.

Place the bottom of the snipped leaves in water and let it sit in bright light. Change water every 3-4 days. After a week or two, the clippings will grow roots. When the roots and the leaves look healthy, plant them again in a pot with new soil. They’ll grow into a full, lush plant in no time with proper care!

Other Notable Plant Tips

  • Research: I don’t usually trust the instructions on the label that the plant comes with, because they are usually so simple and basic. Make sure to Google the plant once you are home so you know how to take care of it in the best way.
  • Watering can: While watering cans with sprinkler heads are popular, I find that it’s easy to accidentally spray water all over the floor when using them, especially for indoor plants. I really like long spouted cans (I have this one) and they are also great for accuracy in aiming if you have hanging plants like me!
  • Soil: There are various types of soil for different plants but this soil for succulents and cacti has worked for all my plants. I really like well-draining soil because holding on to moisture can cause bacteria, and even my humidity loving plants do really well with this soil.
  • Considerations if you have pets: Some plants are poisonous to pets so make sure you check this if you have fur babies. I’m lucky and my dogs have zero interest in my plants so I don’t pay attention to this, but if yours are a bit more curious, I would take this into consideration when you purchase a new plant.
  • Know before you buy: If you are shopping for a plant for a specific room, make sure to assess the lighting in that room and where you are planning to put the plant. You can then figure out what plant is right for that environment. I always check with the person working at the nursery how much lighting and water a specific plant requires before buying.
How to Take Care of Houseplants

Easy Beginner Friendly Plants

If you are just starting out with houseplants, you may be nervous about what plants to purchase at first. These are some of my favorite, low maintenance plants that are easy and will thrive in most conditions.

  • Pothos: Does well with low and bright light and also flexible with watering. And really leafy and pretty!
  • Snake plants: Also does well in various light and watering conditions.
  • Succulents and cacti: I was hesitant to add this one because I’ve heard many people having trouble with these. Just make sure to keep them in bright, direct sunlight. And while many say do not water them too much, I find that succulents thrive when I water them once a week as I normally do with other plants.
  • Spider plants: Not picky about water or sunlight and will grow well in various conditions.
  • Dracaena or money tree. I treat both of these plants similarly and they grow very easily. They like bright, indirect light and weekly watering. However, they didn’t mind when I forgot to water them for a 2-3 weeks or left them in direct sunlight for too long.

My Personal Favorite Plants

Of course, my favorite plants are the prettiest ones to look at, in my opinion. I’m a very visual person. However, they are not always low maintenance. It doesn’t matter. I love them so much that I make sure to give them extra loving and care if I see them looking a little sad.

  • Monstera
  • Pothos
  • Fiddleleaf fig tree
  • Birds of paradise
  • Rubber tree
  • Pilea
  • Prayer plant (maranta)
  • All forms of calathea – they are the most fickle plant ever so they frustrate the heck out of me, but so gorgeous!
How to Take Care of Houseplants

That’s it, guys! I hope you found this guide on how to take care of houseplants helpful. I tried to answer all the questions you asked me over on Instagram, but if didn’t answer some of them or if you have any more, just leave me a comment below and I’ll try to get to it as as soon as I can.

Lastly, don’t be intimidated by plants! I used to have a black thumb myself, and you can only get better at being a plant mom or dad by actually growing them yourself and making mistakes on the way. I actually do kill houseplants sometimes, even though it happens less and less now, and that’s okay. I just think of it as a learning experience and move on. You can only get better by adding more plants to your collection!

Happy growing, friends.

What Great Grandma Ate / Jean Choi is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Regarding other affiliate links and affiliate relationships: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Thank you for your support and understanding.

My Favorite Non-Toxic Mattress

After much research, learn how and why I picked my favorite non-toxic mattress that is not only natural and free of harmful chemicals, but also extremely comfortable!

Disclaimer: I was received a product to try in return for my honest review. I fully stand behind this product, and the opinions are 100% my own.

non-toxic mattress

As someone who doesn’t sleep well with even a little bit of stress, having a comfortable sleep space and mattress is essential for my health and well-being. After sleeping on a cheap mattress for 5 years with constant back pain, and moving to a new, bigger house, it was definitely time to look into upgrading our mattress.

Why Non-Toxic Mattress?

The first requirement I had when I started mattress shopping was that they had to be non-toxic. Most mattresses on the market are filled with harmful chemicals that can not only pollute the air in the bedroom, but also our bodies. With years of suffering for hormonal imbalance and health issues, this was a non-negotiable.

Some of the toxic chemicals and ingredients that I wanted to avoid are:

  • Polyurethane foam
  • Formaldehyde
  • VOCs (volatile organic compounds)
  • Flame-retardant chemicals
  • PVC covers
  • Vinyl

Many of these are linked to cancer and have adverse effects on our immune system, endocrine system, and our respiratory health. These compounds have also been linked to infertility, obesity, and even developmental brain disorders. They also pollute our environment as well.

We spend a third of our lives sleeping in our bed and it’s during this time that our body detoxes the most, and our bodies can’t properly do their jobs when we are loading our system with these chemicals. We also have 2 small dogs that sleep in the bed with us, and I don’t even want to imagine what those toxins could do to their tiny bodies.

Why We Chose Sleep on Latex Mattress

non-toxic mattress

After doing a ton of research on the safety and comfort of various non-toxic mattress companies, we finally landed on a brand called Sleep on Latex. Sleep on Latex mattresses are made of 100% natural latex foam without any synthetic materials that emit toxins.

Their mattresses also go through rigorous testing to make sure they are highest in quality and safety. Not only that, they are lined with certified organic New Zealand wool for a breathable cover that naturally provides an effective fire barrier without the use of fire retardant chemicals.

And most importantly, I loved that you can choose the thickness of the mattress, as well as the firmness of the mattress from soft, medium, to firm depending on your preference. I have scoliosis and soft mattresses really mess up my back and I wake up with shoulder and back pains if I sleep on one, so I had to make sure I could get a non-toxic mattress that was also firm and comfortable.

Synthetic vs. Natural Latex Mattresses

Synthetic Latex

Believe it or not, the quality of your latex MATTERS to our health and our environment. Synthetic latex is cheaper for a reason. It’s made with petroleum-based compounds, styrene and butadiene, which are both VOCs and pose serious health risks especially to our central nervous system.

And many companies will market their mattresses as “natural latex” when most of it is synthetic with a little bit of natural latex mixed in, so make sure the label says “100% natural latex.” You’ll also notice that synthetic latex will have strong chemical odor when you first open it, which also impacts our health and causes headache, fatigue, and depression long term.

Natural Latex

Natural latex, on the other hand, is made from milky white liquid extracted from rubber trees which is why it’s 100% natural. Sleep on Latex‘s mattresses, specifically, are made from latex harvested in Sri Lanka. Because of this, it is eco-friendly without any harmful chemicals, and natural latex is actually more durable than synthetic latex and it has a more springy feel.

From Sleep on Latex’s site:

Rubber trees must be grown for several years before they will yield latex. Each tree can be used for up to twenty years. The cuts in the tree are periodically changed to maximize yield. After the latex is collected from the rubber trees, it is thickened (by removing excess water) and shipped to factories for use.

Rubber tree plantations have far less of a negative impact on the land than other crops, and they encourage much more biological diversity than other monoculture crops. It takes about ten years of growth before the rubber tree starts producing sufficient amounts of latex. This waiting period ensures that new rubber trees are being planted continuously.

How cool is that? I never ever knew that natural latex came from a tree and how sustainable it is without causing harm to our health.

non-toxic mattress

Test and Certifications to Ensure Quality

On top of being made from 100% natural latex, Sleep on Latex put their non-toxic mattress through rigorous testing to make sure that they are high in quality and free of harmful chemicals, which I was extremely impressed with.

Their latex foam is certified by both OEKO-TEX and eco-INSTITUT, the world’s leading independent textile emissions testing bodies. These groups perform tests that measures any harmful emissions (such as VOCs). Products must comply with strict emissions standards to obtain certification. Sleep on Latex’s foam carries a Class 1 certification (safe for babies and toddlers) from OEKO-TEX, which is the most stringent class, and ensures that the product doesn’t contain several HUNDREDS of harmful substances, from heavy metals, carcinogenic dyes, and pesticides.

Sleep on Latex’s factory also carries an ISO 14001 certification, which is an environmental practices certification that shows that an organization has made an exceptional effort to reduce waste and use their resources efficiently to improve environmental performance.

Our Personal Experience With Sleep on Latex

Now that I explained how Sleep on Latex makes great non-toxic mattresses, I’ll go a bit into our personal experience with our new mattress!

Since we wanted to upgrade to a king-sized mattress from a queen, we decided to go with a king 9-inch thick mattress that’s firm. I was adamant about going with the firmest one because of my back issues that get worse when I sleep on a soft surface.

The mattress was delivered to our house rolled up tightly and compressed in a plastic wrap. There was no assembly needed, we just removed the plastic and the mattress sprung out into its full size. And the best part? It didn’t smell AT ALL. I always get such a headache when I order a new furniture and the smell is so strong and unpleasant, and I was so pleased that we didn’t have to air out the mattress at all before using it.

non-toxic mattress

After sleeping on it for several weeks now, I can’t say enough great things about this mattress. Not only is it so comfortable with just the right amount of firmness, I’ve been sleeping better and my back pains are significantly reduced!

I was actually nervous that it wouldn’t be comfortable at first, because it’s a natural, non-toxic mattress so they may have had to compromise on the support and texture to make it without all the synthetic materials and toxins. However, I can honestly say that it’s one of the best mattresses I’ve ever slept on and even my husband (who does NOT care about toxins or any kind of “safe” or “natural” labels) has said how comfortable and great it is!

If you are interested in switching out your mattress or are in the market for a new one, I highly recommend you check out Sleep on Latex. They also have mattress toppers and pillows, which I’m sure are great quality too.

We found that our 9-inch thick mattress doesn’t need a topper, but we may purchase their king-sized pillows now that we are in love with their mattress.

Check out Sleep on Latex here.

Other Ways to Detoxify Your Bedroom

Not only have we switched to a non-toxic mattress, we have taken several simple steps to detoxify our bedroom. The bedroom is my safe space and I want it to be peaceful and clear of any harmful substances that may lurk in various products or building materials. Here are some easy ways to detoxify your bedroom:

  • Himalayan salt lamp. Yes, not only are Himalayan salt lamps pretty to look at and create a zen space, they actually purify the air. Salt pulls in water molecules from the room, including bacteria and pollutants. When the lamp is on and heats up, it releases water molecules back into the air but holds in the pollutants, naturally purifying the air. It’s also known to increase your energy levels, reduce allergy symptoms, and help you sleep better. This is the one that I have.
  • Beeswax candles. Beeswax is  known as nature’s air purifier because it releases negative ions when burned. Any kind of air contaminants like dirt, pollen, and pollutants carry positive ions. When negative ions from the beeswax meet the positive ions in the air contaminants, they are neutralized and this purifies the air naturally. Such a cool process! Learn how to make your own beeswax candles here.
  • No shoes. We actually have a no-shoe policy in our entire house which my husband loosely follows (insert eye-roll here). Your shoes can carry pollen, toxins, and bacteria that can easily be transferred into the house, so I am especially strict about this rule in the bedroom.
  • Organic bedding. Just like how our mattresses can contain toxins and pesticides, so can our sheets and pillow covers! This one’s an easier and more economical way to reduce toxins in the bedroom if you are not ready to switch out your entire mattress yet, so I highly recommend you invest in some organic cotton sheets. We really like these sheets, and they are so soft and comfortable!
  • Plants. If you follow me on Instagram, you know how much I love collecting plants for the house! Not only do they look pretty, they are actually really great for purifying the air. Some of the best air purifying plants are: spider plants, ficus, snake plant, ferns, aloe vera, and dracaena.
  • Air purifier. This is an obvious one, but I realized that not many people own one. Air purifiers clear the air of harmful pollutants, dust, pollen, smoke, and even mold. They range in size and price, but I really like this compact one for the bedroom that uses a 3-stage Air Filtration System that includes a pre-filter, true HEPA filter, & activated carbon filter.

I hope this post was helpful in educating yourself a bit about the importance of our mattress quality and choosing a non-toxic mattress for you and your family. Our bedroom is where we spend our time the most so I hope you’ll take some steps to detoxify your bedroom to make it a clean and safe space!

What Great Grandma Ate / Jean Choi is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.
 
Regarding other affiliate links and affiliate relationships: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Thank you for your support and understanding.

Spring Cleaning: 16 Natural DIY Household Cleaners

16 Natural DIY Household Cleaners

Now that we are all moved in to our new home, I’m quite excited to tackle some DIY projects for the house. Since it’s also Spring cleaning time, one of the most important and urgent next project is: making new homemade cleaning products! Even in our old home, I concocted various cleaners for the home using safe and toxin-free ingredients for our own health and the health of our dogs.

There are so many harmful and harsh chemicals and fragrances in typical store-bought cleaning products that are linked to a variety of illnesses, so I try avoid them as much as possible. Our livers are already so burdened by the types of food we eat, as well as environmental toxins, so we should all make an extra effort to give it a bit of break and love. The good news is, you can easily make so many cleaners at home that do not cause any harm but are just as effective (and so much cheaper)!

After doing a bit of research, I put together the cleanest and the most effective homemade cleaning product recipes that I love from my fellow bloggers! Hope they work for you as well as they’ve been working for me!

1. All-Purpose Surface Cleaner: Two Ways

Image via Live Simply

Both of these all-purpose cleaners use simple ingredients you probably already have at home and are so effective in cleaning the kitchen, bathroom surfaces, carpets, and some appliances. Depending on the type of surface  you’ll be cleaning, choose either the vinegar-based or the castile soap-based cleaner!

2. Disinfecting Wipes

A healthier alternative to Clorox® Disinfecting Wipes, which contains a long list of toxic chemicals, these homemade disinfecting wipes use vinegar and essential oils for a safer and convenient way to clean almost anything.

3. Homemade Dusting Spray and Wood Polish

Image via Nourishing Joy

This dusting spray comes in 2 different versions (regular and simplified), and it’s so great for cleaning furniture and wood without leaving residues. I love that it works on so many different surfaces!

4.  No-Streak Window Cleaner

Image via Whole New Mom

It took me a while to find a natural glass cleaner that works as well as Windex without leaving a film or streaks, but this window cleaner really does work SO well! You can use it on everything, besides marble, and I’m always so happy and satisfied with the results.

5. Non-Toxic Dishwasher Detergent Tablets

Using a combination of simple ingredients and non-toxic liquid dish soap, these dishwashing detergent tablets are so easy and convenient to just pop into your dishwasher and let them do all the work!

6. Liquid Dish Soap

homemade liquid dish soap

This liquid dish soap is my own recipe that I’ve been using and perfecting for years now and I still love it! It cuts through grease easily and doesn’t leave a residue on the dishes like some DIY dish soaps I have tried.

7. Best Homemade Bathroom Cleaner Ever

Image via Crunchy Betty

When it comes to cleaning bathrooms, I absolutely hate doing it, and I want something powerful so I can get in and out quickly. This homemade bathroom cleaner works beautifully and I’m able to do just that with it, while still using non-toxic ingredients!

8. DIY Natural Toilet Bombs

Not only do these natural toilet bombs look pretty, they clean the toilet like nobody’s business! I also love that they make the bathroom smell so nice with the addition of essential oils. Plus, it’s such an easy way to clean the toilet!

9. Homemade Anti-Mold Spray

Seeing mold build up in your home is the WORST. Nothing grosses me out more, so I’m so happy to find a recipe that not only removes mold, but prevents it from starting! This anti-mold spray is so simple and easy to make, but the tee tree oil in it makes it a powerful but safe anti-fungal for your home.

10. Homemade Liquid Laundry Detergent

I have tried SO MANY homemade laundry detergent recipes in the past, and this one is my absolute favorite! It cleans my clothes just as well as the store-bought brands and makes A LOT for super cheap. I use castile soap instead of Fels Naptha soap, and love how great it works!

11. Homemade Dryer Sheet

There are so many harmful unnecessary chemicals in commercial dryer sheets so I stopped using them a long time ago. These reusable dryer sheets soften clothes and reduce static naturally with vinegar, and you can add your own scent to your clothes with addition of essential oils!

12. Natural Air Freshener with Essential Oils

Image via Hello Glow

Ever since I started making a conscious effort to avoid toxic fragrances, I actually get a headache when I walk in the store and pass the aisle with cleaners and air fresheners. This natural air freshener uses just 3 ingredients, and makes the house smell soooo wonderful with your favorite essential oils!

13. Natural Bleach Alternative

I know it’s a struggle for many people to find natural bleach that actually works. Well, look no further, because I couldn’t believe how well this natural bleach alternative took out stains from my clothes after an overnight soak! You can even use it in your washer, or as a cleaner for sinks, tubs, and toilets.

14. Grout Cleaner

Is there anything baking soda and vinegar CAN’T do? This DIY grout cleaner is so effective for cleaning all your tiled floors, and it’s perfectly safe to use. Grab an old toothbrush and get scrubbing, and you’ll have clean and sparkling tile grouts in no time!

15. Hardwood Floor Cleaner

Image via Clean Mama

Our new house has hardwood floors (which I LOVE), so I’ve been searching for a good, natural cleaner ever since moving it. This easy breezy hardwood floor cleaner recipe is so simple to make, and keeps our floors super clean and smelling nice!

16. Easy Homemade Carpet Cleaner

We don’t have carpets anymore, but our old apartment was carpeted and this easy homemade carpet cleaner was our go-to for stains and general cleaning. Especially with 2 dogs (one with skin allergies) who are laying on the carpet all the time, we didn’t want to use any toxic chemicals that they could be ingesting. This carpet cleaner worked beautifully every time for any kind of stains we had!

 

Spring clean your house with these toxin-free and natural DIY household cleaners!