The right plants give your home extra character and personality — unless they’re dead.
For some, household plant care is an integral part of one’s daily life. For others, it may seem like a green thumb is just out of reach.
Learning how to care for indoor plants can be especially trying, especially in a climate they were not designed to thrive in.
Below are some common concerns people have when caring for plants. Check out these tips to up your plant game!
Soil Is Your Friend
Transplanting into a new pot? Not impressed with the soil your plant came in? Now is the perfect time to refresh the plant’s soil. Many people are tempted to skip this step.
Unless you have air plants, don’t neglect your plant’s foundation. Some plants are more picky about soil than others. A cactus can handle basic, dry soil, while an orchid needs the opposite. In fact, you can buy fertilizer made just for orchids.
Shed Some Light On Your Plant
Unless you are raising a mutant plant in space, your plant requires some amount of light. Every plant uses photosynthesis with the light it gets. Photosynthesis helps your plant turn light into energy and process sugars.
Store-bought plants may have a label indicating how much direct or indirect sunlight they need. Garden-grown plants or seeds may be used to constant sunlight.
Do you know your houseplant’s origin? If your plant is native to a heavily-forested area, it likely thrives on filtered light. Succulents can manage with dim, filtered lighting for lengthy periods. Just be sure to check up on them from time to time.
When days are shorter and there is less light available, you can buy a lamp specifically for your plants. You can even buy a planter with an attached light.
Start with Watering
Over-watering is the first mistake made with indoor plant care and maintenance. Your plant may be suffering from “wet feet”, meaning too much watering.
Soil can only hold so much water, and your plant doesn’t want the equivalent of chugging a Gatorade. Make sure your potting setup allows water to drain out.
When watering, add water slowly until you see the pot start to drain it out. If that doesn’t work, try adding several ice cubes every couple of days. The ice cubes will slow the rate of absorption.
Have you ever been in a room with stale, stifling air? It can make you feel claustrophobic. Being stuck in a stuffy room for too long just doesn’t make you feel good. Guess what- your plant may feel the same way.
Greenhouses require airflow, but you can make a few changes at home without installing huge fans. Regular fans can keep air moving, especially if they turn the right way (this changes between warm and colder months).
Protecting Plants From the Elements
Dust can also affect your indoor plant’s health. Still, few people think to check for a residue buildup. Dusting and vacuuming can keep air fresh and plants feeling their best, especially for plants with big leaves or open flowering parts.
Make your plant’s environment feel more like its home climate. Open windows when you can for fresh, moving air. Move plants away from cold, drafty areas.
Putting Your Best Leaf Forward
Your plants may grow towards the window to get the best light. Position your plant so it doesn’t have to work as hard to get good lighting. Turn the plant occasionally to let every side have some fun in the sun.
If your plant needs a lot of sun but doesn’t like being indoors, try a hydroponic planter. This is a great option for plants that are brought indoors in the wintertime.
Out with the Old, In with the New
I have a foreign Jasmine plant that dies every winter and comes back in the spring. When it does bloom, it constantly grows more, flowers fall off, and the cycle continues. It just doesn’t love being indoors.
Plants with a stiff stem may hold up better through the seasons, but a drooping plant with dry leaves is likely sending out an SOS.
Some plants just need to be pruned back. If leaves and flowers don’t come off easily, they probably aren’t dead. If you trim stems, cut them diagonally with a clean cut.
Avoid Unwanted Attention
We’re looking at you, pets. Some plants may not be suitable for homes with children or pets, period. Tall plants or potted trees need a solid foundation so they won’t tip over easily. Plants generally should be bottom-heavy, so avoid plastic containers.
Be sure you know which of your plants are poisonous. Cats may nibble on the leaves, and children may grab and pull leaves or flowers off. Toddlers or infants may stick plant parts in their mouths as they explore their environment.
These tips will help you prepare your plant for a happy life alongside your pets.
Research How to Care for Indoor Plants
My number-one tip for you is to get to know your plant. Some people are better off with easy plants like the golden pothos. Others may be willing to put in the work for an orchid or the extravagant zebra plant.
Exotic doesn’t always mean more of a challenge to care for. Do your research on plants before buying.
Buy from stores or local growers who are knowledgeable about the plants. A store full of sad plants isn’t going to start you off on the right foot.
Bonus: if you find a low-maintenance plant that propagates, you’ve just bought several great plants in one! Some plants can even grow in water.
The Bottom Line
Taking care of a living thing takes time, no matter how many hacks you try. Learning how to care for plants may be a matter of trial and error until you find the right balance. Our tips on how to care for indoor plants will help get you on the right track.
That said, plants have too many perks for your health and home not to try. Just show your plant babies some love and watch them grow!
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