How to care for your houseplants
Houseplants are perfect for adding a fresh touch to your home. Many of us are falling in love with having a slice of nature indoors, but not everyone is a natural green thumb. Google search trends have revealed that houseplant related terms like ‘my plant is dying’ and ‘how to revive plants’ have skyrocketed over recent years, showing that people are bringing plants into their homes, but they are struggling to keep them alive!
With hundreds of care guides flooding the internet for specific plants, you as a new houseplant parent might feel a little overwhelmed. This guide will show you how to help your plants thrive.
Don’t fall into the trap of watering your plants every day, the truth is that most plants don’t need it. Every plant requires a different watering schedule. To figure out how much hydration your plant requires, find out which country or region it is native to. Plants from dryer climates can generally last a lot longer without water, whilst tropical plants from moist climates (like rainforests) will need frequent misting. If you aren’t sure whether a plant needs watering, put your finger in the plants soil. If it’s dry, go ahead and give it some water.
If you’re as forgetful as we are and you have a lot of plants to keep track of, we’d suggest writing down your watering schedule. You can also get some great phone apps to help you figure out a precise care plan for your plants – there’s a list of some of these here.
The general rules of plant watering are:
- Don’t let water splash on leaves and flowers, this can cause rot
- Don’t let plants sit in water, only water until the soil is moist – if you notice water pooling in a pot a few minutes after watering, pour it out
- Water most succulents from below. Stand them in a container with a couple of inches of water, checking back every 20 minutes or so and removing them when the water level stops going down
All plants need light to thrive, but each variety of plant will need different levels of light. Your plants will either need direct sunlight or indirect sunlight. If you don’t have enough space for your plants by the windows in your home, you can supplement this need with a grow light.
Unlike outdoor plants, houseplants can’t rely on the environment around them to replenish nutrients in the soil. In fact, every time they are watered, the nutrients in the soil they are potted in are lessened. Plants should be fertilized around once a month during their growing or flowering season. It isn’t necessary to fertilize during dormant periods.
When a houseplant outgrows its pot, you’ll need to transfer it to a new one. It isn’t as easy as picking it up and dropping it in a bigger pot with more soil, though. Some plants are very sensitive to changes in their environment, so it’s important you take your time with the process.
How do I know when my plant needs repotting?
Check your plant for one or more of these tell-tale signs:
- You can see the plants roots starting to grow through the drainage holes of the pot
- It needs watering much more frequently
- The plants growth has slowed down, even in its peak growing season
- It’s hard to balance the plant and it tends to fall over
- The plants roots are pushing it up and out of the planter
How to repot your plant
Before you start, lay down a sheet or old towel to catch any soil.
- Choose your new pot. The new pot should have drainage holes and be 1 – 2 inches larger than the old pot (in width and depth)
- Remove the plant from its old pot. Don’t tug or pull with unnecessary force as you may damage the roots. Gently lay it on its side and carefully wiggle the plant out of the pot
- Prepare the new pot. Add a couple of inches of potting mix into the new pot. Remove air pockets by patting it down
- Prune the plant. Gently squeeze soil off the root system and prune any extra long roots, making sure to leave thicker roots alone
- Carefully lower your plant into the new pot and add potting mix round the plant until it is supported enough to stand on its own. Don’t pack the soil in too tightly though or you’ll limit the amount of oxygen that is able to get to the roots
Common houseplant problems & how to resolve them
When you spot something wrong with your houseplant, your first reaction might be to panic and think that you’ve killed it. Usually, houseplants are very resilient and can withstand being treated badly for a period. Issues can be fixed, and plants can usually be resurrected with a little work.
- Curling Leaves – Curling leaves are generally a sign of an insect infestation on the plant itself. If you spot other signs of insect activity, the solution will usually come in the form of an anti-bacterial or anti-fungal spray. Consult with a local plant shop or do some research to figure out which insects are damaging your green friend.
- Brown tipped leaves – If your plants leaves are starting to turn brown, it probably isn’t getting enough water, or you are watering it too inconsistently.
- Yellow leaves – This usually signifies that you are overwatering your plant. You just need to straighten out and regulate your watering schedule.
- Dropping leaves – leaves fall off plants when they aren’t in ideal growing conditions. Check your plant is receiving enough light, and its location is warm enough.
Help your houseplants thrive
Houseplants are a wonderful addition to any home, but there is more than just watering and sunlight that needs to be considered. We’ve outlined some of the basics for how to take care of your houseplants so you can enjoy them even longer! Whether you’ve owned a variety of houseplants for years or are new to the challenge of keeping your green friends alive, we’re sure you’ll have fun keeping them happy and healthy. We hope this blog post has been helpful to you. What are your best houseplant care tips? Let us know in the comments below.
About The Author: Ryan Jenkins. Having worked in the gardening industry for many years, Ryan has a keen eye for the outdoors. He shares his knowledge and expertise on the Sefton Meadows blog.
Photo by Sasha Kim from Pexels
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