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Houseplant Dos and Dont's

Houseplant Dos and Dont's

Some people seem to have the magic touch when it comes to indoor plants; the rest of us leave a trail of drooping stems and brown leave in our wake. If that sounds familiar, you’re not alone, but often it just takes having the right information to turn you from a plant killer to a plant mama or dada extraordinaire.

Plus, there are so many benefits to having indoor plants in your home or office space. Not only do they help to clean the air you breathe, they also have a relaxing effect, both mentally and physically. During COVID lockdowns, many people discovered a new love for indoor gardening. But how do you maintain and nurture the plants you have?

DO research their requirements

Light and water are essential to give plants the energy they need to grow and thrive. (Remember learning about photosynthesis back at school?) However, each plant has different light and watering requirements, so familiarize yourself with what your plants need and then find them the perfect place in your home.

DON’T put a plant in direct sunlight straight away

Even if a plant is a sun-loving variety, that doesn’t mean you should place it in direct sunlight immediately, especially if it has been in a different environment before. Instead, find a spot with indirect light and slowly introduce it to bright sunshine.

DON’T overwater your plant

Unfortunately this is one of the most common mistakes plant owners make. While all plants need water, too much water can do a lot of damage. Bulbs especially are prone to rotting and root damage. The best way to prevent this issue is to use planters with draining holes and place them on a small plate. It also may be a better idea to put water on the plate or dish so that the plant can suck up that much-needed drink without saturating the soil. The pot can also make a difference – plants in a porous pot will need watering more frequently than one in a plastic or glazed pot.

DO give your plant plenty of room

Plants are often gifted in small pots and need to be replanted in larger planters later on. Choose one that is around two inches larger than the current pot, so that it has room to grow. But don’t choose a pot that’s too big, as that can also cause problems. Even once your plant has been growing for a year or two, look out for signs that it needs re-potting, such as yellowing leaves or visible roots. If you do not re-pot your plant you run the risk that it will become rootbound (in other words, bound to the pot). 

DO treat your plants like home accessories

It’s easy to fall in love with your plants, but in general, plants require careful planning and attention to look their best in the home. For example, a row of small snake plants or succulents in matching pots make a lovely architectural centerpiece on a dining table. Whereas in a corner, you could use three sizes of the same plant – one large, one medium and one small – for more impact. Put smaller plants on pedestals to make them look taller or for a more dynamic grouping.

DO change up the soil

The soil around your plants doesn't always give you the attractive look you're going for. Using moss is a stylish solution. Another option is to use pebble toppers – bear in mind that these will increase the humidity levels around your plants.

DO go big

Buy the largest house plants you can afford. You want to make a statement and have the plants be a part of the room. Small plants in tiny pots can become messy clutter. A large palm or Ficus can fill an awkward corner or create a canopy over a seating area.

DON’T assume that all plants work in all houses

Do your research and only choose plants that will suit the conditions in your home. Most of our houses are dry and don’t have great light because our windows are coated to protect from the sun. However, a lot of house plants like humidity. Even a bathroom isn’t always enough to keep these plants happy and healthy.

DO know which plants are dangerous for pets

Unfortunately, some plants are poisonous to pets. For more information, check out the ASPCA’s printable list.

DON’T forget to give your plant some TLC

Schedule an occasional teatime for your ferns, gardenias, and other acid-loving houseplants. Substituting brewed tea for water once a month will give your plants a lush, luxurious look. To flush salt build-up in the soil, place your house plant in a sink or take it outdoors on a warm day. Slowly pour tepid water over the potting mix. Allow water to drain out the drainage holes of the pot. Pour more water through the pot, then empty the drainage tray.

DO throw out pot plants that are past their prime

If you’re still nursing a leggy spider plant left over from college, it’s probably time to call it a day. Unless it’s a jade plant or a very well-tended bonsai, it’s unlikely that your plants are something you’ll pass on to the next generation, so know when to say when. Once a plant loses its shape or dries out, don’t bother trying to resurrect it. Dying plants aren’t pretty and they’re not helping with air quality either. Say goodbye and move forward.

Hope these houseplant tips give you the confidence to include some greenery in your indoor space!

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