How to Care for Indoor Plants

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Do you have a habit of killing your houseplants? With these expert tips for caring for indoor plants, you can develop your green thumb.

Do you have a cemetery of houseplants that you couldn’t keep alive? Yes, I do. There are the dozens of succulents I expected to thrive on my kitchen windowsill, only to wilt, brown, and crumple into a heap of dust a few weeks later. 

However, it turns out that I am not cursed with a black thumb. When it came to plant care, I was simply making some very common rookie mistakes.

There is no such thing as a green thumb or a black thumb; it’s more about how much attention you pay to your plant. We all have the ability to grow healthy indoor plants; it’s just a matter of understanding the fundamentals of plant care and listening to your plants when they tell you what they need.

Where to Buy Indoor Plants and How to Care for Them

The first step is to decide which plant to bring home with you. You may be planning a stop at a big box store, as I did, but for beginners, this is not the best place to make your purchase.

“Go to a reputable garden center or nursery, preferably family owned because they’ve been doing this for years and years. Plants [from big box stores] are more for people who already know what they’re doing; they’re not really for beginners. It’s a massive warehouse; it’s up to you to figure out: Is this plant doing well? How do I go about doing that? What do I do with this in my house? There is no real education underlying it. If you’re a beginner, get your plants from a local plant shop, nursery, or farm.”

And, while shopping online isn’t out of the question, be cautious about where you place your order. Be wary of dishonest sellers. “If you do go online, make sure it’s a nursery or plant store, and buy from someone well-established who adheres to shipping regulations, etc.”

Know your boundaries and how much time you’re willing to put in.

“Make certain that the plant you purchase is suitable for your environment. I’m also guilty of this, where I fall in love with a plant, bring it home, and then realize I don’t have the right conditions for it. And it’s a very sad downhill journey. Always make sure you are aware of your home’s conditions.”

Consideration should be given to factors such as access to light, temperature, and humidity.

The next question you should ask yourself is how much time and attention you are willing to devote to your plant. ” If you’re a busy person, you might need something that doesn’t require as much of your attention. If you want to touch and work with your plants every day, he recommends orchids and ferns.

How to Select a Healthy Plant

So now that you know what kind of plant will work in your space, how do you choose the best one to bring home?

“When people see a plant they like, they will take it home and wonder, ‘Why is this plant dying?’ The best way to succeed with plants is to begin with a good, healthy, vibrant plant.” “It takes a bit of an eye that you develop over time, as well as some research on the plant you’re about to buy.” But keep two things in mind: Examining any damage and searching for new growth.

When purchasing a plant, you should understand the difference between mechanical damage, such as humidity or a bent and ripped leaf, and fungus that can spread.

The difference between fungus and humidity damage is that a fungus is usually asymmetrical and will attack one part of the leaf unevenly, whereas humidity damage will attack the leaf evenly all the way around,” “In a plant that grows quickly, like a begonia, you’re better off removing the damaged leaves in store.” In 3-4 weeks, it will have new leaves. I do it at the garden center table so you don’t bring the disease into your house.” Then, look for new growth, such as healthy leaves and new buds or stems, which indicate that the plant is healthy and will continue to grow once you bring it home.

The difference between fungus and humidity damage is that a fungus is usually asymmetrical and will attack one part of the leaf unevenly, whereas humidity damage will attack the leaf evenly all the way around,” “In a plant that grows quickly, like a begonia, you’re better off removing the damaged leaves in store.” In 3-4 weeks, it will have new leaves. I do it at the garden center table so you don’t bring the disease into your house.” Then, look for new growth, such as healthy leaves and new buds or stems, which indicate that the plant is healthy and will continue to grow once you bring it home.

Then, look for new growth, such as healthy leaves and new buds or stems, which indicate that the plant is healthy and will continue to grow when you bring it home.

Stock up on supplies before you leave the store.

Fertilizer is required. “In theory, the universe is infinite when your plant is in nature. If the plant runs out of nutrients where it is, it simply expands its roots to find new nutrients.”

You are the master of its universe when it is in a pot. Fertilizer packs a nutritional punch. The plant will eventually deplete its nutrients, at which point you can re-pot it, fertilize it, or both. It essentially just replenishes the nutrients that the plant has depleted.”

Any brand will do; just make sure it has a ratio — known as an NPK number — on the front label. “The three numbers represent nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. You can’t go wrong if you just follow the instructions on whatever you buy.”

Aside from fertilizer, make sure to get a pot with drainage holes. “It becomes much more complicated and you have to be much more careful with your watering if you use pots without drainage holes. A saucer will also be required to catch water runoff.

First and foremost, always re-pot your plant. “Make it an inch or two bigger than the plastic pot they’re in. A 6-inch plant should be placed in a 7- or 8-inch pot to allow for growth, because the goal is for your plants to grow.

Insecticide should be sprayed on it.

You want to spray it with an insecticide or pesticide. You can use a variety of products; I use horticulture oil, which is a petroleum distillate. You mix it with water and spray it all over the plant, including between the leaves. You want to make sure that any insect, whether it’s a mite or a mealy bug, is killed before integrating it with your other plants so you don’t end up with an infestation.

Put your plant in quarantine. When you get it home, put it in a quarantine area for a few days before mixing it with your other plants. Don’t worry if it’s not near a window; they can tolerate that kind of light for a few days before dropping leaves.

Taking Care of Your Indoor Plants

Your plant is now ready to thrive! Here are some general guidelines for keeping your indoor plant healthy (and alive).

Light – If you don’t know where to put a plant, put it in the window; who says there isn’t such a thing as a ‘low light’ plant? Plants require light to survive. Plants literally consume the sun’s rays. As a result, they require as much sunlight as possible in order to thrive. It’s like putting your plant on a diet if you give it low light.

You should also think about where your plant species came from. “Different plants come from different parts of the world and require different amounts of light. Some plants, such as succulents, cacti, and begonias, are native to warmer climates and require a lot of direct sunlight indoors. So, you want to put them in the brightest window you have. Then there are plants from more shady areas, such as a Birds Nest fern or a Boston fern.

And, while it may seem obvious, the larger the plant grows, the more light it requires, according to Satch. So, while a plant may begin on an end table with some indirect sunlight, as it grows, it may need to be moved closer to the window. “I’ve seen a lot of setups where people put a plant in the middle of the room, which is not where a plant wants to be. All plants thrive in windows.

Water – When it comes to watering, I’ve heard a variety of opinions: some people spritz their succulents, others don’t. Some people use cubes on their plants. If you only listen to one piece of advice, make it this: water when the soil is dry. Follow these other guidelines to avoid over- or under-watering your plant:

When it comes to watering, the soil will tell you. “Feel the soil an inch or two below the surface. The soil will tell you what the plant requires; if it’s moist and smells, it’s too wet and you’ve begun to rot the plant; if it’s bone dry and dusty, you should water it. It is preferable to err on the side of dryness rather than wetness.”

There is an appropriate way to water a plant. To begin, always use warm water. “Most houseplants do not come from cold areas, and warm water absorbs faster into the soil, making it more efficient,” says the author.

Make sure your watering stream is aimed at the plant’s base. You don’t want to saturate the plant with water because you risk an infection or fungus taking hold in one of the leaves.

Water a little bit at first, wait for it to sink in, then water a little more, let it soak in, and then add a little more. Continue doing this until you notice water accumulating in your saucer. You don’t want to pour in too much water too quickly. When the soil becomes too dry, it actually becomes water repellent, and water will simply rush down the sides of the pot into the bottom, around the roots.

Imitate a rainstorm by taking a cue from nature. You don’t want to be too cautious with the water because consider this: What occurs in nature? It pours when it rains. It gets very wet and sits in it for about a day before the sun comes out and dries everything up. That is exactly what you want to achieve with your houseplant.

Imitate a rainstorm by taking a cue from nature. You don’t want to be too cautious with the water because consider what happens in nature. It pours when it rains. It gets very wet and sits in it for about a day before the sun comes out and dries everything up. That is exactly what you want to replicate for your houseplant, so make sure your soil is saturated every time you water it. Allow it to sit in the excess water in the tray for about a day; if it hasn’t absorbed what’s in the tray after a day, dump what’s left.”

Is it better to spritz or not to spritz? People enjoy spritzing their plants, but not all plants require, or even prefer, to be spritzed on a daily basis. Do not spritz aeroids such as pothos, monsteras, or peace lilies — anything with a waxy leafy appearance. Because there is no water going through those waxy leaves, spritzing them is actually doing them a disservice because you are making it easier for fungi to penetrate that waxy layer and attack the leaves.

However, there are a few plants that require constant watering, such as air plants, orchids, and ferns — these are the plants you should spritz.

The best way to water a succulent. Succulents are a particular problem for many people because we assume they are low-maintenance plants. Nonetheless, we’ve all seen that desk succulent go from happy to sad seemingly overnight.

Succulents must be considered in their natural environment. Feel the soil and make sure it’s bone dry before watering it, and when you do water it, make sure it’s completely saturated. Maybe once every two weeks.

If it’s in a brightly lit window, the sun will quickly dry it out. They dry out quickly, especially the smaller ones. As a result, you can water it as soon as it becomes dry. While succulents may need to be watered every few days during the hotter, sunnier months, they may be able to go a week or two without being watered during the colder months.

Trouble Signs

You must diagnose a plant holistically in order to figure out what’s wrong with it. What’s going on? Do the leaves appear to be falling or turning yellow? What is the texture of the soil? Here are some red flags to keep an eye out for:

  • The roots are decaying. You are overwatering if the soil is soft and mushy, and the roots at the base are crawling out of the pot.
  • The edges are darkening. Many individuals will mistake this for low humidity. Not all of the time. A fungus can sometimes be found eating away at the leaves.
  • Leaves that are yellow. Anything might be the case. Yellow leaves are merely a cautionary sign. It could be too hot, too cold, too wet, or too dry, which is why you should always search for secondary signs; a single yellow leaf isn’t always a call for aid. Sometimes it’s just an old leaf or sheath that’s dying off, which is entirely natural and typical if the remainder of the plant is fully green.
  • Wrinkled or drooping leaves indicate that your plant is dehydrated and needs to be watered. The lower leaves are a school-bus yellow color, indicating that they have been over-watered.
  • Leaves begin to fall off: Leaves fall for a variety of causes, but the most common indoors is a lack of light. Plants do not see light like we do, and light is their food. No food, no leaves. The cure is to put into (not next to) a bright window.
  • Gnats: If you see gnats on your plants, you’re watering them too much and not allowing them to dry completely between watering.

A Cheat Guide for Plant Care

  • Before you get your plant home, inspect it for damage.
  • Insecticide and quarantine should be used.
  • Replace the pot and fertilize it.
  • Remember that there are no “low-light” plants; all plants require direct sunshine.
  • Follow nature’s lead and only water when the soil is completely dry, then soak it.

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