There are plenty of ways to care for your plant. With the help of our plant experts, we’ve weeded out the Top Ten Tips for healthy, happy plants.
1. Choose Plants Based on Light in your Space
Are the plants you love the ones you can have? The available light in your space will help you decide. Check the direction your windows are facing; south-facing windows give bright light, east/west-facing windows give moderate light and north-facing windows give low light. Most houseplants prefer bright, indirect sunlight.
If the sun is intense through your windows, add a lovely sheer curtain to diffuse the light. Cacti and some succulents like aloe can of course handle brighter, direct sunlight. You don’t want to overexpose or underexpose any plant. They need the right amount of light to live.
2. Figure Out Your Plant Compatibility
New to plant parenthood? A busy work schedule, social life and general forgetfulness can lead to unintentional plant neglect. It’s okay. Some plants can handle that kind of lifestyle. A jetsetter like yourself will enjoy the resilience of low-maintenance succulents, ZZ plants or snake plants, all pretty low key, as long as they have enough light (bright and low light respectively). These should keep looking their best when you return from your next trip.
If you’ve got more time, you can try a few attention-loving air plants, orchids or ferns. Like a mist for the face, an extra spritz of filtered water daily between waterings keeps humidity levels nice and balanced for these delicate plants.
3. Less (Water) Is More
It’s better to under water your plants than to overwater. Too much water can lead to root rot. Ditch your water schedule and water your plant only when it needs it. Check the soil first to make sure it’s dry at least 2 inches deep below the surface. If your soil looks dark in color, feels moist, and sticks to your finger, your plant has enough water to do it’s thing for now.
How often you water will also change throughout the year. Plants need less water in the winter, when they’re growing slower, the days are shorter and sunlight is less intense. If the heat is on and the soil is drying quicker, they may need a bit more water. Wilting leaves or soil that looks pulled away from the sides of the planter are signs of a thirsty plant.
Always use warm water because it absorbs best. Pour water directly on the soil around the base of the plant, because plants absorb water from their roots. The only exception here is Epiphytes, like air plants, who need water on their leaves as well.
Place a saucer under your planter. When you water, let it soak in for a few hours, then toss any water that’s left on the saucer. If no water is left over, give the soil another soak.
4. Raise the Humidity Levels
Staying true to your plants natural environment will help your plant thrive indoors. Most tropical plants, ferns and orchids prefer high humidity and bright to moderate, indirect light. Mist these plants in between waterings with filtered water. During the dry months of winter, grouping similar plants together helps to create a more humid microclimate. A humidifier can help too and it’s great for humans. On the other hand, most desert dwellers, like cacti, prefer dry air and bright, direct light with no shade at all. They definitely don’t need to be misted and don’t care for humidity all that much.
5. A Note on Stability
Keep your plant’s home environment as stable as possible. Extreme changes can stress plants out. Keep the temperature between 65 and 75 degrees F. Avoid placing your plants near radiators, A/C units and forced-air vents, which can create hot or cold drafts.
6. Skip The Fertilizer
It’s fine to skip the fertilizer. Too much fertilizer can do more harm than good. Houseplants tend to not need fertilizer as often as outdoor plants do. If you do choose to fertilize your plant, it’s best to do so during the growing season (early spring to early fall) and follow the general rule of thumb: ‘less is more’. Most store-bought fertilizers should be diluted with water before use.
If you have had your plant for at least year, you can fertilize it for the first time. We suggest using an all-purpose fertilizer. Always follow the instructions. If you’ve just changed the soil, skip the fertilizer. Fresh soil has enough new nutrients.
7. Find A Reliable Dealer
Purchase your plants from a reputable source like The Sill! Stick with local nurseries, your local garden center, and specialty stores or florists. Purchasing from a source with plant experts on-site means they can answer all your questions. Most people who sell or work with plants love talking about them. We definitely do.
Avoid large department stores and supermarkets where plants are usually stored in basements or dark warehouses. Check your plant out for yellow leaves, powdery mildew, strange spots, brown tips and weak stems as these are signs of an unhealthy plant. Go for green.
8. Show A Little TLC
Friendships are fragile. You and your plant need time to adjust co-existing. Show your plant a little extra attention starting out. Observing your plant will tell you when to water and when to not, if the temperature is too high or too low, and if it’s getting enough sun. Plus they’re so pleasing to look at.
9. Don’t Be Scared to Repot
A common misconception – repotting does not necessarily mean putting your plant in a new planter, but rather, changing out your plant’s soil with fresh potting mix. New plants should be repotted at some point and given fresh soil, as they are not meant to live in the plastic containers that they are usually sold in, and are often overgrown, plus a new planter could really tie the room together. Choose a planter only 1 to 3 inches larger than its current container. The idea is that your plant is not swimming in soil, which may lead you to overwater. Keep it tight.
10. Let it Flow
When you move your plant to a new, larger planter, whether it’s terra cotta, ceramic, or fiber glass, make sure it has drainage, a fancy word for “hole at the bottom”. This will prevent overwatering as any excess water will have a place to flow. Get a saucer or tray and place it underneath to avoid a wet floor or window sill.
You can get DIY and make your own drainage by lining the bottom of your planter with rocks to create crevices for the water to drain into. Here at The Sill, we use lava rocks because they’re porous.