Bringing plants into our homes or gardens is a great way to introduce Mother Nature to your living space. If you’ve ever thought plant care can make you feel soothed and relaxed, you’re right! Studies have shown that interacting with indoor plants can reduce stress and promote comfortable feelings. Plants are living things, and we need to provide adequate care if we want to help them thrive. The right amount of light, water, and soil can make a huge difference in your plant’s longevity. To help you out, we’ve gathered everything you need to know about how to take care of your plant!
Why is Plant Care So Important?
Plant care is essential for humans because it can provide calmness, relaxation and boost mental health. We spend roughly 90% of our daily routine inside, causing our bodies to crave nature. Liven up your environment (literally) by adding a little green that requires sustenance, light, and love. Plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen, so they purify the air of whatever room you put them in. Having to care for a living thing is also healthy for our minds, reinforcing essential skills like responsibility and commitment. For those who can’t provide for an animal, plants make excellent pets! Beyond health reasons, plants are also good decorative pieces. Turn up the charm in your house, apartment, or room with inviting and refreshing houseplants. You can also choose flowering plants to accentuate specific colors or create an aesthetic pattern.
What Happens if You Neglect to Care for Your Plants?
Failing to care for your indoor plant can result in foul odors, a decaying appearance, and perhaps even a dead plant. The three crucial requirements for any houseplant are sunlight, water, and proper soil. However, different species need various amounts of these nutrients, so be sure to research your plant. To avoid neglecting their houseplants, many people assume they have to obsess over their indoor plants. In fact, some horticulturalists claim that more people overwater their plant than underwater it. Plants indeed require moisture, but excess water may drown your favorite potted buddy. Some turn to succulents as low-maintenance indoor plants. These resilient desert plants can go for long periods without being watered or sitting in direct sunlight. It is still possible to neglect succulents, so make sure you’re reading up on your plant species and giving it the right amount of nutrients.
How to Care for Your Plants
There are countless indoor plant species to choose from, each of which has its own look, size, and needs. The right plant for your bedroom windowsill may not be as suitable for your home’s entryway. Make sure you research your plant species to give it the proper care it needs. Some of the most valuable plant care tips can come from the person selling you your plant. If you buy your new leafy friend from a horticulture store, ask questions about your plant. Often, the employees of stores that sell plants are involved in their growth. Good questions to ask include:
- Can the plant withstand direct light?
- Does it need special soil?
- Should it be handled differently in the Winter vs Summer months?
If you’re a new plant parent, don’t get discouraged at the first sign of brown leaves. Even some neglected plants can be brought back to their former glory with lifestyle improvements. See if a better pot, different location, or a little fertilizer can help your houseplant grow stronger.
Finding the Right Pot
Since your leafy friend can’t go shopping for a space to call its home, you’ll have to pick the perfect pot for your plant. Look for pots with drainage holes that prevent water from pooling at the base of the container. If your pot doesn’t have these holes, you can put rocks at the bottom to create a space for excessive water to drain into. The material of your pot is also important. We recommend choosing a porous pot for the most efficient drainage. Avoid plastic pots or planters because they take a long time to dry. The best porous materials for plant pots are:
You may hear the term “planter” used interchangeably with pot, but they’re technically two different things. Pots are usually a small, round container meant to house a single plant. Planters are often used for outdoor gardening as they are large, come in various sizes, and contain several plants. Sometimes, we won’t know if a plant likes its new home until it’s had some time to live in it. If you notice your houseplant is looking unhealthy, try moving it to a new pot with better drainage. This isn’t necessary, but it can often help a sick houseplant.
Choosing the Right Soil
Plants are accustomed to their native environment. This means the soil you choose should reflect the conditions of wherever the plant came from. Although “soil” is often used when growing houseplants, the best mixes usually don’t contain any soil. For general use, we recommend a mix of peat moss, vermiculite, and perlite. Succulents may need some sand mixed into an indoor potting soil to allow for additional drainage. On the other hand, Orchids are notoriously picky about their soil and do best in fir bark or sphagnum moss. Some indoor plants may also require fertilizer, which replaces nutrients they lose over time. Fertilizer is similar to vitamin pills that humans would take, and not every plant requires it. If your plant is losing its luster despite adequate water and sunlight, consider administering fertilizer. We recommend doing this in the Spring because that’s when plants experience the most growth.
When watering your plant, keep its species in mind and remember that it’s better to underwater than overwater! In general, you can add small amounts of water to the soil and wait for it to drain. Repeat this until the water ceases to drain, and the plant will have just the right amount of water. If you’re waiting for your plant to show you a sign that it needs watering, try checking the soil first. If the top layer is not moist to the touch, the plant needs water. You can read its body language by studying the plant’s leaves:
- Wilting = needs water
- Pale = needs light
- Crispy = needs increased humidity
- Rotting = needs decreased humidity
Overwatering can result in a condition known as root rot, which is blackened and dead roots. Plants that sit in water too long will be deprived of oxygen, killing roots, which can harm healthier roots. If you notice rot, try cutting off the dead roots, repotting the plant, and using less water in the future. Another cause of root rot is a fungus that can live in the soil and thrive in overwatered conditions. If this is the case, remove the plant completely, breaking off soil up to the root ball. Clean the pot’s interior and exterior with bleach and water to remove any trace of the fungus. Plants that don’t receive enough water will eventually die. If you’re prone to forgetfulness or if you’re a frequent traveler, consider buying a succulent that doesn’t need too much water or attention.
Placement and Lighting
One of the most crucial aspects of plant care is location. Indoor plants are often capable of living in low light conditions, but almost all species need some sun. Every plant parent should learn about their particular houseplants, but a good rule of thumb is six hours of bright light per day. Some species, such as the rubber plant or snake plant, prefer indirect light. Direct sunlight is not interfered with by any objects, while indirect light passes through a window or bounces off a surface before meeting the plant. For low-light plants, we recommend a somewhat dark area, such as a restroom.
Plants are luckier than us because if they lose a leaf or stem, a new one can grow to take its place. One of our previous plant care tips was to cut off blackened roots if you notice rot. This is known as pruning, or the removal of unhealthy parts so the plant can grow stronger. Pruning is a common practice in gardening, so there’s no need to feel like you’re hurting your plant. You can prune more than just the roots of your indoor plants, including leaves, stems, and branches. You don’t have to wait for Winter or Spring either, as you can prune any time of the year.
Humidity and Temperature
Plants need water to grow, but we often assume this only refers to their roots. A houseplant’s leaves also want a healthy amount of moisture so they can stay green and lush. Keep your indoor plants happy by putting them in a 70-80°F room with roughly 40-60% humidity. Wherever you put your indoor plants, consider the amount of moisture in the air. If the room is too dry, its leaves may turn crispy, similar to paper’s texture. Other symptoms include a leaf that is droopy or browned at the edges. Every plant has its own unique needs. The best way to help your leafy friend is by replicating their native habitat because extreme temperature changes can cause stress. For example, tropical plants require much higher levels of moisture in the air, with some species growing in 90% humidity. If your houseplants need more water or a specific temperature, consider investing in a humidifier. You can manually remedy a lack of moisture in the air by routinely misting the plants, but this can be cumbersome. Devices like these can help you monitor the temperature and humidity in the room.
Don’t Pull on Your Plants When Repotting Them
Repotting plants in a new container or soil mix can help your plant stay green and healthy. Plants need a gentle touch, so make sure that you don’t pull on a leaf or stem when you repot them. This can shock plants, potentially stunting growth or damaging their leaves. Fortunately, there’s an easy way to repot houseplants without pulling them:
- Hold your hand near the base of the plant.
- Keep your hand over the pot’s top as you turn it over.
- Rotate the container until the soil loosens and the plant slides out.
- If the plant doesn’t come free, run a knife along the pot’s edges.
While you shouldn’t pull at their leaves or stem, it’s okay to hold houseplants as you transfer them. The best spot to grab your plant is its base, just above the root ball. Fortunately, there are plenty of tools like these that can help you repot your plant safely.
Can You Show Plants Love?
A little TLC can go a long way for indoor plants. Since these are living things, it’s important to remember that they are sensitive to their environment and external stimuli. Plants can feel when they are touched, and some research has suggested that plants respond to music! Though they are sensitive to touch, the idea that it’s good to interact physically with them is one of the plant care tips that has recently diminished in popularity. This is due to studies that have shown that many plant species don’t actually like being touched. Rubbing the oils on our fingers onto plant leaves isn’t the best way to demonstrate our fondness. Remember that plant care is a great form of love. Routine watering, giving it enough light, and pruning leaves that have lost their green tint will show it that you care.
How Do I Know If My Plant is Dying?
Plants may not be able to tell us when they need more watering or less sunlight, but they can partially communicate with us through their leaves. Even if you’re giving the best care you can, make sure you keep an eye out for anything out of the ordinary. Your plant could be sick if its leaves are:
- Dropping flower buds before they bloom
Other areas of the plant can also inform you of its health. If its roots are coming through the pot’s drainage holes, the plant is outgrowing its container and needs a larger one. If the soil’s water level never goes down, the plant is not drinking and may need fertilizer or a new mix. The tell-tale sign of an unhealthy plant is yellow, drooping leaves. The discoloration is typically the result of low light, and the dangling leaves are often caused by dehydration. If you’ve increased the houseplant’s light and water and the problem persists, try adding some moisture to the air. Common indoor species, such as the snake plant, are impressively resilient. This means that their health issues are usually due to more serious problems than more sensitive plants. The most likely reasons for a sick snake plant is overwatering, insect or fungal gnat infestations, or extreme temperatures.
Final Thoughts – Plant Care
If you follow these plant care tips, your leafy friend will stay green and upright for years to come. Remember to ask questions about the species when you purchase your houseplant and to set a watering schedule. Plants are incredibly beneficial to our physical and mental health, so the least we can do is return the favor!
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