Life as a Plant Parent—8 Tips You May Not Know for Making Your Plant Babies Thrive
Voguing up your house or office space with indoor plants has so many benefits. In addition to making the area more visually pleasing, having plants around is great for the air quality. Still, it’s terrific for our mental health, and it’s fair to say that very few people would find it unappealing to have cheerful, healthy plants around the house, would you agree?
So why can some of us be hesitant to add to or even start our collection of plants at home and others rush to fill up their jungles?
I tend to think that hesitancy likely comes from concerns about potential failures as a plant owner or those false expectations about the considerable effort required to care for plants. “It’s too much effort. I’ll stick to faux plants, thanks”. Well, that’s just simply not true, plus tell me, where are the health benefits of faux? Getting dirty and even the motion of touching plants is soo good for the soul.
Let’s try to address some of your concerns by looking at some helpful, easy-care tips for caring for plants… you might not have been told yet.
Hopefully, after reading these tips, you will feel more comfortable and excited about becoming a plant parent, “Welcome to the houseplant crib”.
Tip #1 – Start with quality soil (I like to call it fancy)
The parts of plants we see above the soil’s surface steal the show, yep that is the foliage we are all crushing over on our IG feeds, so it’s easy to forget how important the soil is for the crucial elements of our plants as we don’t get to see it – the roots.
There is no point in buying the most stunningly healthy plants available if they are just going to get potted in poor quality soil. Unfortunately, that’s only going to end one way. So it’s a big no, no to just grabbing some dirt from the garden. We pay for what we get! A high-quality free-draining soil with slow-release fertiliser will help your plants get off to a great start.
Tip #2 – Make sure your pots have a drainage hole
If your pot has a drainage hole, free-draining soil can drain like it’s supposed to drain.
If your pot does not have a hole, then boy, oh boy, where does that water go?
(You might be like Eek, I already have planters without a drainage hole?)
The good news is you can buy nursery pot-plant inserts that will help do the job. The insert lets you quickly take the plant in and out of the pot (with no hole) to water and drain. Waterlogged soil is the most common cause of health problems with indoor plants. No plant likes soggy wet feet.
Tip #3 – Put your plant babies in the right home
Or maybe it’s a case of finding the right plants for your house. Either way, the good news is that there will always be the “right” plants for your space regardless of your home layout.
Although many plants enjoy the fresh air, plenty of natural light and water (sounds like us, right), there are plenty of choices for indoor plant varieties that will thrive in low light conditions or warm, humid areas such as your bathroom. It’s good to note; every plant needs some form of light to grow; no light, no plant will ever like it there.
Tip #4 – Plants don’t like to drink too much
When a plant looks a little bit unhealthy, our first reaction can sometimes be ‘Ooh,0. I need to give it more water’. The truth is that many indoor plant varieties are more likely to suffer from over-watering than under-watering. We tend to refer to this as the helicopter plant parent.
Knowing your plant variety is essential for creating a watering schedule that ensures your plants only get the water they need. Fortunately, you don’t have to guess when your plant needs more water. Getting yourself water indicating device, such as a Sustee, can make life much easier. Devices like Sustees have an indicator that shows when your plants need a drink and, notably, when they don’t.
Tip #5 A little bit of support is often welcome
It’s not just climbing plants that can grow better with a bit of support. Plants that produce a lot of foliage, and fast-growing plants will also appreciate a stake or similar support. For single-stemmed plants, a simple straight pole is all that’s needed. For vines and climbers, consider a fancy designer circle stake, a moss pole or a totem pole that will provide better grip and more decorative support. The stake you choose doesn’t have to be purely practical; it can add to the visual appeal.
Tip #6 Rotate your plants occasionally
“If it ain’t broke, don’t touch it.”
In plant parent terms, if your plant is thriving, leave it be.
However, many plants reach for the light as they grow, so it can be worth rotating them where they sit, every so often. That can encourage even growth of the foliage. Slight rotations now and again can help ensure every side of your plant is on its good side.
Tip #7 Plants can get pestered
It may not be what you want to hear, but pests can take a liking to your plants.
Yep, have you ever heard of mealybugs, thrips, and fungal gnats? They are all possible plant bullies. The first trick to avoiding pests is to purchase your plants from a reputable seller. Check no nasties are flying about and ensure the plants have healthy root systems; it’s even worth a tap out of the pot to check.
The next trick is to create an environment that’s nice for your plants but not pests. If you follow the earlier tips (free-draining soil, not over-watering etc.), you already have a massive head start for making your home plant-friendly and not pest friendly.
Prevention is better than cure, but it’s also worth noting that common plant pests have simple treatments available. If you see something that doesn’t look right, isolate any problem plants and treat potential pests as early as possible. Using mediums like LECA on top of your topsoil, coconut coir fibres, and diatomaceous earth can act as a deterrent. They simply don’t like landing on it. Wiping the leaves free of dust is a great preventative, and you can use a neem oil leaf shine for this.
Tip #8 You don’t need to be a perfect parent (it’s my most un-favourite word)
This might be something you just need to hear. Every honest plant parent will tell you they have had their fair share of mistakes or hiccups. Part of the joy of being a plant parent is becoming better at it as you learn. The more progress you make, the more satisfaction you can have watching your collection of plant babies grow and thrive.
Learning to care for plants and having them around your home can be an easy way to improve the look of your home and really can boost your mood and wellbeing. The best way to become a better plant parent is having a go.
By Ella Prince, Co-Founder & Brand Manager of plantsinabox.com.au