Adding plants is one of the quickest ways to liven up a room. Some people seem to be gifted with a green thumb, flooding rooms with greenery with minimal apparent effort. People with a black thumb need more help.
Plant care may seem esoteric; foliage can wither for what feels like no reason, flowers can drop after watering, but growing your skills in this area can have great benefits. Horticultural therapy — plant care as a treatment for mental health — is even finding new life in some medical clinics.
When it comes to gardening, not all plants are created equal. Even some relatively common houseplants require a delicate touch, and it can be discouraging to watch something die off after you've poured your time and heart into it. It's best to start off with plants that are hard to kill until you can get your green feet under you.
Monstera, spider plant, and hedgehog aloe are all great options for a beginner houseplant gardener.
Different plants need different amounts of sunlight. You may think that more is better when it comes to soaking up those rays — plants use it to photosynthesize, right? The truth is, some plants fare better with less light than they do when sunlight is abundant.
Make sure you know how much light each plant prefers and place them in your house according to their needs. Plants with low-to-moderate light needs can do well in bathrooms or hallways, while sun-hungry ones love windows. If this already sounds like a lot, simplify things for yourself by keeping multiples of the same plant so you know just what to expect.
Over-watering is actually a far more common cause of houseplant death than under-watering. When the soil is too damp for too long, the oxygen supply to the roots is cut off, and this can cause root rot. The general rule, for most plants but not all, is to water only when the top inch or two of the soil is totally dry.
One easy way to ensure your plants' roots can breathe is plant them in pots with drainage holes in the bottom. This allows excess water to trickle out and gives even the deepest roots easy access to the air the plant needs to thrive. Just make sure to have a plant saucer underneath so the water doesn't damage anything the plant is sitting on.
Now that you know how too much water can hurt your plant, how can you keep yourself from killing it with love? Bottom watering your potted plants has many benefits, the least of which is reducing the risk of root rot. To bottom water your plants, first check the soil. If you poke your finger into the soil and find it bone-dry down to your second knuckle, it's time to water it. Place a potted plant with drainage holes in a container large enough to hold it and fill the container about halfway with water. Don't let water run over the top of the inside pot.
Thanks to an effect called capillary action, the water will slowly draw up into the soil. Let it sit this way for ten to thirty minutes, then remove the pot and plant. This method ensures uniform moisture around even the bottom-most roots, and the soil won't absorb more water than it needs.
Most houseplants prefer humid air. The air inside our homes is often dryer than is preferable when it comes to caring for houseplants. Fixing this can be as easy as placing a humidifier in the room. You can also research pebble trays, which can be a quaint alternative to a noisy machine.
If you have a window in the bathroom, you can keep plants that love humid conditions in there. The steam from your shower will keep them happy and healthy.
When you see brown leaves or wilted stems on your beloved plant, don't panic. Plants can be surprisingly hardy in the right conditions, and can even regrow from nothing but the roots and a bit of stem.
When a leaf, or a few leaves, dies, prune the dead pieces off. This encourages the plant to send its energy toward making new growth while also removing dead weight that would otherwise hinder your plant's survival.
Like many people, plants are happier once they get used to their surroundings. Avoid moving plants around unless absolutely necessary, water them on a regular schedule, and don't put them through sudden or extreme changes in temperature. If you're as forgetful or constantly busy as so many of us, setting reminders in your phone can help keep you on track.
Many plants, houseplants included, can benefit from fertilizer. Fertilizer comes in many forms, but liquid is one of the most convenient options when considering houseplant care.
Research your specific plants, but in general, fertilize the soil during the growing months of spring and summer. The frequency depends on the product you use. Carefully read and follow the instructions on your product for the best results.
Believe it or not, dust can harm your plants. This is especially true for plants with wide, flat leaves. As dust gathers on the surface of your plant, it blocks the sunlight, reducing photosynthesis. Since plants need this process to make their own food, too much dust can stunt growth or even kill a plant.
Once a month, take a damp cloth and gently wipe down the leaves to make sure they can soak up all the sun they need to thrive.