Not everyone is born with a green thumb but thankfully there are tips, hacks, and tricks to keep your plants alive and thriving.
Understanding the needs of your plants will lead to reduced stress, cleaner air, and a happier environment.
If you want to be a plant parent, here’s everything you need to know about taking care of plants.
Get the right plant
No matter how positive your vibes are, you can’t grow an orange tree in Alaska. Some plants are doomed at your doorstep, not because you lack green instinct, but because they’re a bad fit.
Kerry Meyer, who holds a masters in horticulture from The University of Minnesota, uses the “right plant, right place” mantra to choosing plants, according to her post in Proven Winners. Even if miniature roses look great for the ‘gram, they wilt if they stay indoors.
Ask your local garden center for a plant that will bloom in your climate and with your lifestyle. If you’re terrible at remembering to water your plant, cacti and snake plants will cherish your neglect. Always mention if you have pets; cats may become ill from lilies or daffodils.
Let there be (not too much) light
Expert gardener Marie Iannotti explained the subtleties of the labels, “full sun, partial sun, dappled sun, and shade” for The Spruce. “Full sun” could mean a backyard in Texas, but “partial sun” could apply to areas with blinds or hallways.
If your apartment never sees the sun, HGTV asserted that shade lovers like ferns will prefer your cave style of living. You could find kinship with spider plants who shrivel and burn in direct sunlight.
Change is bad
Plants are sensitive to change. They’re slow to adapt to new environments, so if they’re doing fine, changing the lighting or the height of the plant is a no-no.
Remember if you’re planning on growing a giant plant baby to start it off in a location where it will fit when it gets big.
If you need to transfer your plant to a new location or apartment, SFGate suggests easing the plants’ transition by “slowly allow[ing] them to be exposed to the elements, until you leave the plant outdoors overnight and move it to its new location permanently.”
When you finally get into a good routine, hire a plant-sitter to keep it up when you’re out of town.
The plant chooses the pot
Choosing the right size and type for your plant container will help it grow in the right direction, literally. Like snails, plants outgrow their homes.
Landscape designerLauren Dunecfor Houzz warns that in too-small pots, plants’ “growth will be stunted, roots will become pot-bound, and the soil will dry out quickly.” When a plant’s roots grow out of its drainage hole, or it’s overflowing on top, it’s time to move up.
But if you want to grow your baby dracaena in a teapot, go ahead, as long as there’s drainage to keep roots from drowning.
After you drill or poke holes in your chosen pot, Shifrah Combiths from Apartment Therapy sings the praises ofadding coffee filtersto “keep the dirt from leaking out.”
Another option is to add large rocks at the bottom of the pot to allow water to filter through more freely. Never combine different plants in one pot.
Use the good dirt
Common dirt could contain weed seeds, fungi, or pests. Potting soil from your local garden center contains a mixture of materials that can include peat moss and organic matter, suggests certified Garden Designer Madaline Sparks forReal Simple.
When you pot your plants, make sure the dirt is slightly moist so the roots can begin working.
Cut the dead stuff
To keep leaves growing, The Flower Shop Network says you must trim dead ends. The process of pruning using scissors, pruning shears, or your hands can even be therapeutic. Bid goodbye to anything that’s brown or spotted.
A layer of dust on forgotten leaves blocks out sunlight, so regularly spritz plants with water and wipe down with a dry cloth.
Don’t over-water your plants
According toHGTV’s Basics Guide, this is the most common mistake beginners make. Some plants, like succulents, only need watering once a month. Parlor palms and creeping fig like their soil as dry as possible.
Avoid drowning by reducing hydration in the cold winter months. For proper watering technique, water the base, not the leaves, to stimulate growth. Test the water for a lukewarm temperature; cold water can shock and damage the roots.
Plant parenting can be tricky, so check in on them every day.