“Bringing home a new plant is like bringing home a baby from the hospital: you’re in charge, you’re nervous, and you don’t know what it wants.”
With 90% of people worldwide now spending a whopping 22 hours per day inside, it’s no wonder we’re falling out of sync with the natural world. We’re not out there to enjoy it! But houseplants are our nature-defying way of bringing the outdoors indoors, filling both our decorative and emotional voids. They allow is to bring a splash of fresh, green life into our homes to boost our aesthetic, while giving us all the amazing benefits that plants bring to the table, like cleaner air! As natives of the wild world outside the walls of our homes, though, they do need a little care to transition to their new life. Lucky for you, I’ve got the top tips to make mastering plant parenthood a walk in the park (without actually having to go outside).
Picking a Plant
When it comes to beginning your plant parenthood journey, the first place you’ll need to start is picking a plant that will work both with you and your space.
Take a look at your lifestyle. Are you a busy-workaholic with a hectic schedule or a forgetful free spirit? If yes, your best bet will be something with low-maintenance needs and a hardy nature, like a zz plant, snake plant, or succulent. Are you more of a flexible personality or someone who doesn’t mind devoting some time and care to a little, leafy friend? If this is more you, then a pickier plant, like a fabulous fiddle leaf fig, will be right up your alley!
Next, look at your space. What spaces are you looking to take the “vacant” signs off of? Houseplants typically prefer bright, indirect light near a window, but plenty of varieties can flourish in the dim corners, too.
Typically, your plants will also prefer a warm (but not hot!), humid environment. The most popular houseplants are most at home in tropical environments, so dry and cold areas, like those next to a drafty window or door aren’t usually the greatest.
Remember, once you’ve settled on the specifics, you won’t want to make too many frequent or dramatic changes for your plants. They need time to slowly adjust to things like air, temperature, pots, etc. Do your best to keep them as comfortable as possible right from the get-go and you’ll have a much healthier and happier plant.
Too Much of a Good Thing: Food and Water
Like all good living things, plants need food and water to survive. The specific needs for each plant will obviously vary, from drought-tolerant plants to bog-loving plants, but generally you can expect the following:
There is such a thing as too much water. When your plant’s thirst is quenched, the roots will stop absorbing water, and if there’s still plenty left in the soil, the roots can start to mold. This nasty phenomenon, known as root rot, is dangerous for our plants and challenging to cure. Under-watering is usually as simple to solve as just adding water.
Start your watering schedule with your plant by not following one at all. Every couple of days, stick your finger into the soil to your 1st knuckle. If it feels dry, add water. If it feels wet, you can leave it be for a few more days. You’ll figure out what works for both of you soon enough.
Same thing goes for food, less is more. Fertilizer is great at giving that nutrient boost to our outdoor plants, but indoor plants aren’t exposed to the same wide scale of elements to need a pick-me-up as frequently. Generally speaking, the nutrients added to most potting soils tends to be plenty. If you really think your houseplant needs it, though, feed them only during the growing season ““ spring and summer ““ using simple fertilizer diluted in water, like the CIL, All Purpose Fertilizer.
Pots of All Shapes and Sizes
Sure, when it comes to picking a pot, you’re looking for one that will unite your plant with your decor. However, you also need to make sure you’re picking one that will make your plant happy, too.
When picking a pot for your fresh-from-the-store-bought-plastic-container plant, you’ll want to look at one that will accommodate your plant’s expected growth. I suggest starting with one that it double the capacity of what it started in and working your way up.
Just like a kid outgrowing their winter jacket every year, if your plant is happy and healthy, there’s a good chance it will need a pot upgrade at some point. If your plant starts dropping leaves like they went out of style or just isn’t growing at all, check to see if your roots are winding around the pot. If they are, you’re ready to move up a size.
Listen When it’s Talking to You
Bringing home a new plant is like bringing home a baby from the hospital: you’re in charge, you’re nervous, and you don’t know what it wants (just speak English!). It doesn’t feel like you’ll ever be able to understand what it needs to keep it alive. Don’t worry, you’ll figure it out. Your plant will tell you ““ or, rather, show you ““ what it needs.
S.O.S. signs from your plant are easy to spot ““ stunted growth, wilting, discoloured or dropping leaves. They will be your indicators when your plant needs light, water, food, and even air, just be watching for when it does.
It’s easy to become overwhelmed when bringing home a houseplant, especially if it’s your first time. Don’t let it get to you, though. With a couple of tips and a whole lot of time, you and your plant will soon find a rhythm that works for both of you, making plant parenting a breeze!