HOUSEPLANT CARE TIPS FOR BEGINNERS
Today I want to cover a topic that a lot of GardeningforFun.com readers asked about and it happens to be a topic I’m incredibly passionate about.
Readers ask for a basics article that they can sent to their child in college who relative who is getting the green thumb bug. I love sharing with aspiring gardens the fundamentals. With out a solid working knowledge must beginning gardeners will become frustrated and aggregated, and we don’t want that!
There’s something about houseplants that make me so happy. I am thankful we have the opportunity to bring a little piece of nature from outside into our house or workspace. It just livens the space up, gives it some more color and when you see a plant thrive that you’ve given tender loving care, it’s just such a rewarding feeling.
I remember when we first got the studio space, the first thing I told my husband was that I wanted to turn it into a bit of a jungle. So we went to the nursery and we loaded up on lots and lots and lots of plants. So today’s article is kind of like a beginner’s guide on how to take care of houseplants.
So if you find houseplants challenging, this article may be for you. If it feels like you just keep killing them and you don’t know why or for those of you that are just looking for some new pointers, I hope you get value from this article.
A lot of what I’m actually sharing today are things that my mom shared with me as I was growing up. I respect everyone has a different way of doing things so if you have any recommendations of your own, I welcome you to share that in the comments below.
#1 Decide Where and Why You Want
the Plant to Live in Your Home or
Office BEFORE you to to the Nursery
Before you buy your plant it is important to know where you want it to go.
In the spot you have selected is there a lot of sun? shade? How is the temperature normally? By deciding before you get to the store, you can save yourself a lot of time by simply looking at the tag on a plant, before you fall in love with it. If a plant requires shade, and the location you have picked for your new plant is sunny, it is better to know that before you buy it and take it home. There are also a couple of other things you will want to consider.
#2 When You Find the Plant
You Want … CHECK THE ROOTS
So when you’ve found a really beautiful, healthy plant that you know is the one that you want to take home, one of the things I recommend doing is very gently take the plant out of the pot just to see what the root situation is like.
In the picture above you can see that there’s a whole bunch of roots along the outside and on the bottom so it might be a good idea to just buy a larger inner pot that you can then transfer it. You can also look for a nice outer pot that will fit the re-potted plant while you’re still at the nursery. If you don’t have time, I buy most of my larger pots on Amazon, believe it or not. 🙂
Amazon has a great selection and I seem to always find exactly what I am looking for.
It’s incredibly important that the pot that your plant is in has holes because we need the water to be able to drain but not all pots of holes are created equal like this one, for example, with some pots there’s a valley beneath the holes and this is a place where water can collect and the problem with water collecting is it can cause the roots to rot which might mean the plant could eventually die. So the point here, we want to make sure we get a pot with holes at the bottom point of the container.
So when we were at the nursery we talked about the importance of repotting plants that have outgrown their current home but a lot of plants don’t take well to a change in their environment and I’m gonna share with you a technique that my mom taught me and it works really, really well.
Essentially, all you do is, first, wet the soil before adding it to the new pot. So you want it to be moist enough but it sticks together but you don’t want it to be dripping wet either and the reason that this works is it encourages the roots to go out and explore this new wet territory and it helps it to settle into its new environment a little bit better.
Then, we’ll transfer the soil along the bottom and the sides of the new pot, will gently remove the plant from its nursery container and transfer it to its new home and add some extra soil around the sides and along the top. You can gently press down on it as well but not too much because we want to give the roots some room to branch out, and then at the very end we’re going to water it just a little bit so that the old soil gets a bit of moisture as well.
#3 DON’T DROWN YOUR PLANTS
Over watering and under watering plants is probably the single most common reason why a lot of house plants die but every plant is very specific when it comes to its watering requirements but there are a few important rules of thumb that might help. For one, you want the soil to get pretty dry between watering.
So just use your finger to see what the soil situation is like a couple centimeters into its depth. If it’s still moist, you can skip watering but if it’s dry I like to water it until I see just a bit of water coming out onto the base plate. If a pool collects, I just drain it off because a lot of plants don’t like to have wet feet and now a lot of people know that plants need more frequent watering in the spring and summer months and less frequent watering in the winter months, but one thing a lot of people miss is they also have a preference.
When it comes to water temperature. In the summer they like it when the water is cooler temperature and in the winter they like it when the water is at room temperature.
So we all know that house plants need soil and good light and some water in order to thrive but one thing that can commonly be missed is the fertilizer, which is the plant’s food and every plant is different but in the spring and summer usually they need to be fed every two to four weeks.
#4 BE CONSCIOUS OF THE
AMOUNT OF LIGHT YOUR
PLANT IS RECEIVING
I usually do it every two weeks but in the winter it’s in its rest periods. So usually they don’t need any feeding at all during that time. I just use this universal liquid variety that works on all of our house plants. Some plants work well in the Sun, some work well in the shade but regardless, all of them need some source of natural light.
Now, in the darker winter months you might need to move your plants towards a light source but generally speaking plants don’t like to be moved. They get accustomed to the environment that they’re in. So move your plants if you have to but otherwise just let them be.
The other consideration with plants is the temperature. You want to make sure you keep it within a range that it’s comfortable at. Keep in mind that plants in front of windows see pretty varying temperatures depending on the weather outside as well as plants that are by air conditioning units or radiators. Now, if you find this all really overwhelming to keep track of, we actually created a free pdf for you that might help out a little bit.
PRUNE DYEING LEAVES
In addition to some tips, there’s a page that you can use to document the needs of each of your plants that you can then later refer to in case you’ve forgotten and there’s also a plant watering tracker. So to get your pdf check out the link in the description box below. Insects and bugs love dead and decaying foliage. So be sure to remove any rotting or dying leaves that are just sitting on top of the soil and whenever I see leaves that are visibly about to die, I just prune the plant by cutting these off so they don’t steal essential nutrients from the leaves that are continuing to thrive.
While you’re watering your plants, just take a quick second to inspect the leaves to see if there’s any signs of any insects or bugs and if there are, you want to deal with these right away. You might notice little webs or insects that look like fruit flies or these bugs that look like they’re covered in cotton and if you don’t know what it is, you can take a picture into your local nursery for some help or research it up online. For a lot of the different kinds of pests I usually just spray the leaves with a bit of soap and water solution and then wipe it clean using a damp cloth.
You might need to repeat this a couple of times but it usually does the trick. Whenever you’re dealing with plants, don’t be discouraged if you try something new and it doesn’t work. Some plants just die. It’s the circle of life but you’re going to get better at it each time, and remember you can always also match your comfort and skill set level to the kind of plant that you’re going for.
For example, something like succulents and pathos. Those are a lot easier to take care of. They’re less fussy than some of the other plants. Now, if you learned something new in today’s article, if you enjoyed it, I hope you will subscribe to our update newsletter here at www.GardeningForFun.com