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Your common questions about indoor plants, answered

Indoor plants illustration
(Bijou Karman)
1

It’s hard to connect with nature when you don’t have a yard.

That’s why indoor gardening, along with other 1970s trends like hanging chairs and macrame, has made a comeback, especially with millennials who can’t afford to buy homes.

More people are gardening than ever, according to the National Gardening Association’s annual survey, and houseplant sales are soaring, along with the proliferation of Instagram influencers, plant swaps, Plant Parent clubs, jungle-like interiors, even plant stylists.

But for every #plantparent, there is an aspiring green thumb who is struggling to master basic plant care.

And who can blame them? “It’s frustrating,” acknowledges L.A. County master gardener Julie Strnad. “Plants are living things. Nothing is ever straightforward.”

Prompted by the houseplant craze, we went looking for the horticultural questions that most mystify indoor gardeners.

We learned that people want to know more about spider mites, pet- and kid-friendly plants, houseplants that can survive low light conditions, and that famous NASA Clean Air study. (For me, I learned that my aeschynanthus radicans was getting too much sun, my fittonia needed a humidity tray, my dracaena ‘lemon lime’ was suffering from overwatering, and I should have left my pilea peperomioides in its plastic nursery container).

Here are the 10 most sought-after houseplant questions on Google, with answers from Southern California gardening experts and the indispensable 1979 Reader’s Digest plant Bible “Success With House Plants.”

We found the questions people ask most frequently about gardening and outdoor plants and went to local experts in Southern California to get some answers.

If you have a question of your own, please send it to us. We want to keep learning together.

What plants are safe for kids and pets?

What are indoor plants that don’t need a ton of light?

Do plants actually clean the air?

Best herbs to grow inside?

Why do houseplants lose their leaves?

How do I prevent pests on my houseplants?

Should I sing to my plants?

What time of day is best for watering houseplants?

What are the best low-maintenance houseplants?

How do I know if my plant has enough water?

Should you mist your houseplants?


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Lisa Boone is a design writer for the Los Angeles Times. Since 2003, she has covered home design, gardening, parenting, even youth sports, for the Home section and L.A. at Home. She is a native of Los Angeles.
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