Houseplants 101

Monday, October 12, 2020

You will soooo thank me for this post, trust me.  I used to be one of those people that thought I could never have a green thumb. Any plant I bought eventually died. I watered it, I tried to give it light.  But no matter what else I did, it never thrived.  The key is a little education and I'm going to give you that in this post.  This is everything you need to know about houseplants and how to have a green thumb.

Not all plants are created equal. 

That's right, if you've been watering ALL of your plants every week on the same schedule, you're doing it wrong.  The first thing to understand is that every single individual plant has individual needs.  And in order for all of your plants to thrive they each need their own care.  So how do you handle this? Simple, do what I did.  
 Each time I get a new plant, I create a "care card" for it.  I take a tiny stick note and I write the name of the plant, whether or not it's pet safe, and then the basics that it needs including: 
When to water
When to repot
What kind of light it needs
How to prune

A simple internet search can give you these 4 basic pieces of information.   This will come in very handy.  

Set a plant care schedule.
Pick one day each week to check on all of your plants.  I choose Sunday because it's the day I tend to everything around the house before the work week groove starts up again.  This is when you will go around to each plant, check it's condition, check for pests, wipe off the leaves, and water if necessary. 

Watering is crucial.
Whenever someone asks what they're doing wrong with a plant, the first thing I tell them is to get a moisture meter on Amazon. It literally costs a few bucks and it's really all you need.  You stick it in each plant and it tells you if it's moist, wet, or dry.  This is the only factor you should use to determine if your plant needs water.  When I see that my plant is moist, I walk away because I know if I water it more, it will become wet and that can lead to root rot. 

 Get a good book. 
There are great houseplant books out there but you really just need one.  My favorite is The New Plant Parent Book and it's the only book you really need. Not only does it highlight specific plants and their needs but it explains watering, fertilizing, and light.  Seriously, you'll thank me later. 

Location is important.
Just because a plant is low light doesn't mean it can be neglected.  Figure out what type of light each of your houseplants needs and then figure out how many foot candles each of your rooms is. Foot candles are how light is measured and guess what - most moisture meters have a light measuring setting where you can just place it where one of your plants is and it tells you how much light it's getting.  The amount of light your plant gets determines it's growth and how often it will need watered.  If you're watering it but it has no light to fuel it's growth, it's not going to need that water.  Make every effort to learn about light, and again, the book I recommended above is PERFECT for understanding it better. 

Be kind.
Take time each week to inspect each plant gently for dying leaves that need removed, rotating it so it gets even light, and to check the soil moisture.

Prevent pests.
Every new houseplant should be isolated away from your other plants for 2 weeks.  If you bring something in that has pests, it's going to spread to other plants.  And I also use tiny stones as mulch on almost all of my plants because the fungus gnats can't survive.  You can also buy sticky traps and I would definitely invest in an insecticidal soap spray to treat pests.  A good book will explain all of the different problems and pests your plants could have. 

A dead leaf is nothing to panic over.
I used to freak out and want to throw the whole plant away when I saw a dead leaf.  But here's the thing.... when new leaves grow in, old ones die because the plant needs to give that energy to the new growth.  It's totally natural and normal.  Understanding this is once again a crucial part of plant parenthood. 

Repotting is very imporatnt.
Most people think they can get a plant, choose a pretty pot and be done with it but it's not that simple. I save all the grow pots my plants come in and sometimes I keep them in those for a while and just insert them into pretty pots. These grow pots have drainage holes which EVERY plant needs and if they outgrow one, I usually have bigger grow pots on hand and then bigger decorative pots to insert them in.  Putting a young plant in too big of a pot can cause root rot because the soil will get too wet, which is why your care card is super important.  I check my plants often to see if they have become root bound and will move them into a bigger pot if that's the case.  There are also some plants that like to be sort of root bound.  So again, know your plant! 

Get good soil.
A houseplant soil is important and you shouldn't just use any old garden soil.  Also, succulents need succulent soil, so make sure you have a variety of soil to choose from for all of your plants. 

Propogating is FREE!
You can actually make new plants from existing plants, simply by doing an internet search.  That's right, you can literally save money by just using cuttings from existing plants to make bigger plants. You can give these plants away as gifts or swap them for other plants from friends.  The book I mentioned above explains how to do all of that as well. 

Plant safety is important.
Know what plants are toxic and keep them away from children and pets.  There may be some plants you can never own because you have a cat that gets into everything no matter where you place it.  When I move my plants around, the care card I have on each that notes if it's pet safe or not, is so helpful because I know if I can put it down low or not. 

I promise you can have houseplants that thrive, you just need to understand your houseplants and hopefully this post and the book I suggested can help you do that!

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  1. I loved the plant tip, I have enough plants at home. Your post is wonderful. xoxo


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