How to Help Your New Houseplant Survive
Plants can add life to any room in your home. They clean the air, eliminate toxins, and recent studies have shown that plants can actually increase productivity while reducing stress and boosting your mood! Still, these functional beauties can be delicate and short lived, especially for first time plant owners. Read on for the most valuable lessons I learn as a new plant parent, lessons to help your new houseplant survive!
1. First, learn about the light in your home.
Checking the direction your windows face will tell you all about which plants could be a great fit for your space. North-facing windows offer low light, south-facing windows off the brightest light, and east/west-facing windows give plants a moderate amount of light. Choose plants based on how much light they’ll need. Under or over exposing your plants to sunlight can be their downfall! Succulents and cacti are great choices for direct light, like the light that pours in from south-facing windows. There are several houseplants that will thrive in low to moderate light. Just be sure to check the care label on any plant you’d like to bring home with you.
2. Buy healthy plants from a trusted source.
Garden centers and local nurseries are great places to shop for houseplants. Most have employees who enjoy caring for and talking about plants. These in-house experts are great folks to ask any questions you have about selecting and caring for new plants. Plants at indoor/outdoor nurseries and garden centers are also likely to be healthier than those sold at grocery stores and other retailers that often store plants in less than ideal conditions. Be on the lookout for signs on an unhealthy plant: weak stems, mildew, yellowing leaves and leaves with are starting to brown.
3. Choose plants that fit into your lifestyle.
New plant parents, busy professionals, or anyone who is away from home or travels often should aim to purchase plant babies that can withstand some minor neglect. Some plants actually prefer to be left on their own for short periods of time and others a a bit more fussy. More low maintenance plants include ZZ plants, snake plants, pothos, and most succulents (we have all of these in our home!). These plants are more flexible when it comes to water and light requirements (they usually thrive in low to moderate light). Bonus: they are also more resilient if you forget about them for just a little too long!
4. Select the right pot.
Your plant’s pot serves as its home so choosing the right one is important! Plants aren’t meant to stay in the plastic grow contains they’re sold in. The new planter should be about 1-3 inches bigger than the current one and packed tightly with new potting soil. It should also have a drainage hole in the bottom to help prevent over watering (don’t forget to purchase a tray to place underneath to catch extra water!). Most terra cotta and outdoor planters will already have drainage holes in place but many stylish indoor planters do not. If that’s the case, create your own drainage by filling the bottom few inches of your planter with river or lava rocks before filling it with soil and your new plant. The idea is to create crevices where the extra water can drain.
5. Don’t under or over water, but if you do…
Know that under watering your plants is actually less damaging than over watering. Too much water for any houseplant can lead to root rot and attract unwanted gnats or flies. To determine if your plants need water, check the condition of the soil about 2 inches down from the surface. If the soil is dry, it’s time to water. If it feels moist and sticks to your finger then your plant baby isn’t quite thirsty yet. Other signs of a thirsty plant: dry or wilting leaves and soil that is separating from the side of the planter. Keep in mind, your plant’s water needs change seasonally. Plants need less water during the colder winter months when sunlight is not as strong and plants grow more slowly.
6. Give them a mist.
Misting your plants with fresh, clean water between waterings (as often as daily) provides a healthy humidity level for many houseplants like ferns, palms, airplants, and orchids. The best way to determine if your plant would benefit from misting is to research its natural habitat. Plants that naturally grow in tropical or humid environments will love the extra mist. You can skip the mist on those that grow in dry or desert environment.