Houseplant growing requirements vary by species and cultivar, and owners should research the proper light, water, soil and fertilizing requirements for each variety. Regardless of the species of the plant, individuals should inspect new plants for signs of disease or damage before purchasing them and avoid placing them in locations where it is difficult to maintain constant temperatures and air flow, such as near air conditioning ducts or radiators.
Plants that require full sun grow best in south and southwest-facing windows. For plants that prefer bright, indirect light, an east- or west-facing window is ideal, or owners can place plants further away, 3 to 5 feet, from a south or southwest window. For partial shade, owners can use a north-facing window, and shade-loving plants thrive in hallways, corners and other areas away from windows. If there is insufficient natural lighting, gardeners can supplement it with fluorescent lights.
Some plants, such as cacti, prefer dry soil, and others, such as ficus, prefer moist soil. Generally, plants with soft foliage or large leaves require more water than plants with smaller or sturdier leaves. Electronic moisture meters can alert individuals of the need for more water, or owners can test the soil by touch. Browning or dropping foliage can be a sign of too much water.