5 Tips to Keeping House Plants Alive

IMG_0153.jpg

A lot of people out there have been telling themselves the story that they simply can’t keep a houseplant alive.  Well, listen here: there is nothing about you that is destined to kill every plant you bring home.

There are many benefits to having house plants and with a few tips and a little practice you too can be a great plant parent! 


Why Bother?

Plants can really soften up a space and they add nice color and texture.  More importantly, they help clean the air!  In fact, you need 12 plants per person, per room to have fresh clean air.  That is a lot!!  You are going to need to master plant care if you want to have that many plants, am I right? But if that sounds like far too many plants, fear not, even a few sprinkled around help a lot!

Guess what?  It is way simpler than you think to keep these babies alive.

Common issues resulting in plant death are easy to fix if you just get a basic understanding.  I have some very simple tips that will ensure your success with houseplants, if you follow them.

You may be wondering what makes me an expert.  Well, I’m not.  I did, however, have a job for a few years at a floral shop.  While it was one thing to keep the plants in the shop alive, I also oversaw all the plants at a couple of bank locations and one, very large home. 

Trust me, in a dim, fluorescently lit bank building, it was a challenge, probably more so than your home. 

I spent years deciphering different plant symptoms, whether it be bugs, poor lighting, root rot, or just not enough water… I had to learn it all.

IMG_6810 small.jpg

So, here is what I know:

1.      Watering:
Indoor plants, for the most part, only need to be watered once a week.  There are the rare few that want a more humid environment like the bathroom and require more water (think ferns), and there are many that can and must go much longer than a week (think succulents and air plants).  If you set aside one hour of one day a week to water all of your plants, that will be plenty. 
If a plant needs water more it will tell you. The first sign is wilting leaves. If the dirt is dry and the leaves are wilting add more water.
If the dirt is wet and you see die-off, it needs to dry out ASAP… sometimes you must do an emergency replant in order to save a life.

If the dirt is always wet you need to allow the top portion of the soil to dry before watering the plant.  On the contrary, if the plant is super dry it needs to be watered more often

Do not let your plants sit in water!  What you want to do is move them all to the bathtub or kitchen sink and gently rain water over them until they are soaking wet.  You can even go a little extra just to be sure the dirt deep down is getting soaked.  Then leave them there to drain for at least 15 minutes before you put them back.  This will avoid root rot and mildew.

IMG_6309 small.jpg

 

2.       Read the plant care tag before purchase. 
Find out if it likes direct or indirect light and asses whether or not you have a space for the plant..  It is nice to move certain plants around from time to time to see if they thrive in one location vs. another.  While a plant may be doing fine in one area, you often times will find that if you move it closer to a window, it thrives.

IMG_0319house small.jpg

3.       Replant!
When you bring them home, plant them in a pot at least twice the size of the container it comes in.   Use nice fresh soil, some Perlite (vermiculite) and water it.  Just mix a handful or two into the soil.  It helps absorb water when needed but also keeps the dirt nice and aerated.  After you have had your plant a while it will need to be replanted again. When the pot starts looking too small for the plant, it is time!

 

4.       Trim off dying branches and leaves.
Don’t panic, plant leaves and branches die from time to time.  Unless you are seeing extreme die off, it’s all natural.  If you are seeing multiple branches and leaves dying, chances are they need either more light, or more or less water.  This isn’t necessarily dire to your plants survival, but it will keep them looking healthy and groomed.

 

5.       Pests.
If you see any weird bugs, google it!  Google natural remedies.  Most can be killed with either a spray bottle of soapy water or a tiny bit of rubbing alcohol. There are so many different kinds of pests, I have found that a quick description in the google search bar brings up all the info needed. If you do notice anything that looks like a bug or a fungus, it is best to seek out answers immediately. Don’t put infected plants close to other plants until you have solved the issue.

 

IMG_5641 small.jpg

 

It really isn’t that complicated.  There is a whole world of knowledge out there when it comes to taking care of plants and this is just a tip of the tip of the iceberg, but if you get these basic rules down, you will be very successful.  Other problems that may occur can be googled in time and you will continue to learn and grow along with your plants. If you implement these simple steps you will feel like a successful plant mom, or dad, in no time!  Happy Planting!