Must Haves: Higher Maintenance Indoor Plants

By: Lively Root
June 14, 2021
Must Haves: Higher Maintenance Indoor Plants
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Adopt these "divas" into your plant collection and watch your fellow gardeners swoon in envy. With a bit of TLC, they can be part of the family too.

Some people would pass these houseplants by because of the bad rap they get overtime for being "divas" or a "challenge." But if you're up for it, we're in with you! And who doesn't love a challenge, right fellow green thumbers? We will give you a few hints on care to overcome your apprehension and get them on your "most-loved" list in no time. And after you've accomplished a full year of pampering these plant babies, your friends will think you're "kind of a big deal" for sticking with it and beating the challenge!

Fiddle Leaf Figs Care

Add Humidity

To keep your Fig happy, we recommend buying it a humidifier for its birthday. This little guy's ancestors grew up in the rainforests of West Africa, so he's used to the humidity in the greenhouse and beyond being between 50-60%. Typically, our homes are between 45-55%. If you're not sure how humid your house is, purchase a hygrometer to monitor the environment. You can also supplement the air by setting your FLF on a pebble tray or sitting it on your porch or patio if you live in a higher humidity climate so it can get what it needs. You can also group your plants, and this will increase the humidity levels around them it too. 

Check your Moisture

Fiddle Leaf Figs get picky about when you water them. Use our 3 in 1 plant meter to check the soil's moisture level. When it's about at a #3-4 in the dry zone, use room temperature distilled, bottled filtered, or tap water that's been sitting for 24 hours to help dissipate the chemicals. Avoid soft water for watering your FLF's. You'll want to flush until it drains and let it soak up the excess in a tray for about 15 minutes, then whatever is left in the plant tray pour out. Remember to rotate your plant 1/4 a turn each time you water so all the sides will get the light it needs. 

Give it Plenty of Light

You can use your 3 in 1 meter for measuring your light source too. Switch the toggle to 'Light' and make sure it's showing a high exposure. Your Fiddle Leaf Fig needs bright, indirect light 6-8 hours of sun (preferably a southern or combination of window exposure.) Periodically check and move your plants around during the different seasons since light exposure will vary as the sun is lower in the sky in the winter versus the summer months. Shield its leaves from direct sunlight so it doesn't experience sunburn. 

Add Nutrition Monthly

Your Fiddle Leaf Fig will need some fertilizer once a month from April through September. In the other months, it will be resting, so there is no need to feed it. You can specifically mixed fertilizers just for your foliage plants like this one or use our Dyna-Gro Foliage Pro Liquid Plant Food. Remember to rotate your plant 1/4 a turn each time you water so all the sides will get the light it needs. 

Cleaning the Leaves

These voluptuous leaves collect dust, so a soft, damp cloth is fine to clean it. Support each leaf with one hand and gently wipe the dust off. This will help it absorb the light for photosynthesis. We don't recommend spray and shine on the leaves as this may clog its pores. 


Set it and Leave It

Some of us are home-bodies and don't like traveling. This one doesn't either. Fiddles are like little old men that get grumpy if you make them get up and move too much. So refrain from playing musical chairs with this one, and it will like you so much better. Find its 'happy place' and leave it be. 

Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum aethiopicum)

Maidenhair Ferns Like Humidity

Maidenhair Fern is a year-round contender for the laciest plant fronds of all time. Maybe that's why people keep buying them and trying to keep them alive. The best environment for this one would be beside a water feature, near a shower, fish tank, or in a terrarium to keep it well humidified for its liking. If that's not an option, know this will need some TLC in the humidity and moisture department, so its leaves don't brown and turn crispy. The more thin and delicate a plant's leaves, the more humidity it needs to keep them fresh and healthy. 

Keep it Moist

These ferns are grown in the native homelands of Africa, southern Asia, tropical Central America, and throughout northern Australia in rich, deciduous woodlands and shady, damp valleys. Thus their roots are commonly found in humus-rich woodland soil that stays moist. The same has to be achieved in the container you plant it in to mimic the natural habitat. Keep its moisture levels consistent, so its roots are hydrated, and its leaves stay healthy. If not, it will protest with crunchy brown leaves that fall off. We recommend checking the soil several times a week with your 3 in 1 plant meter to determine its needs. Different indoor climates will vary during the year's seasons, so always be on the lookout for changes in temperatures versus the soil's moisture. 


Medium Light Needs

Even in the deciduous forests, this beauty still gets bright dappled light which would be the same as medium, indirect light indoors like an eastern window. If it begins to look leggy and the fronds are yellowing, move it to a brighter area to help it photosynthesize. 


Keep Her Roots Cozy

Maidens like to be a little cozy in their root area. Transplanting too soon may throw it into protest. Please wait until you see roots growing through the drainage holes, or it's no longer easy to maintain its soil moisture before bumping it up to a bigger pot. Choose plastic or ceramic container instead of a terra cotta pot since their roots like to stay moist. Terra cotta may dry out too fast, leaving you busier than you want to be watering. 


Grooming: Pruning, Trimming & Rejuvenating

Each time you water, keep your snips in your back pocket and clean or prune any yellowing stems. Check for pests to keep a close eye on anything unusual. Keep the surface soil clean and free of debris. Add soil to it if there are divots from watering. 

If, for some reason, you think you've killed it, instead of tossing it out on its bulb, trim it back down to the base of the plant and try to rejuvenate it. Soak the plant and let the excess water drain. Keep it in a 'happy place' and provide humidity around it even though it may not have one frond to show off. Before long, you might see new shoots pop up. If so, pat yourself on the back and take a bow. 

Alocasia 'Regal Shield'

If you have bright light, high humidity, are a dotting plant parent, and have lots of wiggle room for this one to grow, you've met your new and exciting plant must-have. As we say, there is a perfect plant for every place and person. Never mind all the whiners out there that complain about this one! This indoor plant is regal with its big, bold, and beautiful leaves that can grow as much as 3 feet wide in the wild! But it will need some extra TLC, understandably. 


Moisture & Humidity are the Keys with Alocasia

Installing a room humidifier will keep this one nice and cozy, especially during the winter months if you're in a cooler climate. Keep this one watered consistently. You can let it dry a bit on the top few inches in the winter when it's in dormancy. The humidity may be considered extreme, with an average of 65-80%, and since our homes average 45-55%, this may be a stretch to keep it this humid. Add extra plants around it and set it on a pebble tray and maintain the water to help raise the moisture levels in the air around it. If you have a greenhouse, all the better, my dear! Spritzing this one could cause foliar disease, so refrain. Use soft water to water with only. 

Bright Light

Bright, indirect morning light and afternoon shade are the best if you're letting it hang out on a covered porch or patio. You'll want to avoid the afternoon rays of the sun, so their leaves don't burn. Bring this indoor plant in if temperatures fall below 59°F. 

Repotting and Soil Mixture

When it's time to repot, hydrate the plant and let it rest overnight. Choose a 2" larger in diameter container and slightly deeper than the existing pot. You'll want to premix the soil using a 2/3 indoor potting mix with 1/3 cactus and succulent mix for excellent drainage. 


Indoor container plants rely solely on our feeding schedule. Apply a half-strength balanced fertilizer every 2-3 weeks. When transplanting, use a slow-release fertilizer to mix into the soil since these are heavy feeders. 


Peacock Plants (Calathea roseopicta)

Show us someone that gets excited, and we'll show you the Peacock Plant! This one throws its leaves upward during the dusk to dawn time of day and relaxes its leaves throughout the day to show off their colorful leaves. Either side is a sight to behold as the underside of the leaves can often be just as showy. 


Add Humidity and Moisture

This one tends to have a reputation at being hard to get, but we think it can be mastered with a bit of TLC. Adding humidity and keeping this one moist is the overarching must-do! When watering, make sure to use filtered water as this one won't tolerate chemicals or softened water. Feeding can be every month with half-strength liquid fertilizer. Slack off the feeding in the winter as it goes through dormancy and isn't in active growth. Use your 3 in 1 plant meter to monitor the soil's moisture so you won't miss a drop for this pretty thing. 

Light & Soil

When finding the perfect setup spot, give it a bright to medium light near a window to get enough indirect sunlight. Besides light, when repotting, aerate the regular potting soil mix with a 2:1 mixture of perlite for good drainage. This combination will help with its photosynthesis and nutrient uptake. 

Despite what the naysayers tell you, you can provide a comfortable home for these beauties. Each plant is unique and special. Adopt one of these and add to your already growing family of plants. 

Written by: Debbie Neese