Plant-care can be intimidating sometimes. Some of us have branded ourselves 'plant murderers', 'foliage foilers' or the best one I've ever heard, 'botanical butchers' but don't worry... I've got a few tips and tricks to share with you to keep your plants chirpy and how to get them on your side. I know you'll make a great team.
Pic from u/mildlyoverconfident on Reddit
I'd also like to let you know that there are two types of houseplant in this world. (Well in this article anyway.) I'll be splitting them into leafy tropical plants, and cacti.
Some people I meet at workshops worry that plants plain just don't like them, but this is rarely the case. Some plants can be divas, but they won't ever make you take them out for a walk or put them through university. There isn't a one size fits all set of care instructions for every houseplant in the world but there are some tips and tricks to avoid them disliking you, or heaven forbid, dying on you.
Bit of water, bit of sun, happy days, right? Well sort of... it's all about three simple things: routine, quantity and observation. If you keep an eye on these three little factors you and your plants will become one in an indoor jungle of symbiotic bliss.
Let's start with routine. Different plants like different watering schedules. Someone recently asked me why their cactus had died. They'd been watering it every day, but it had turned into a sad brown mush and they'd been advised that cacti are nice and easy to take care of. Cacti are easy to take care of, but they're like cats. Too much attention and they'll start to dislike you. Cacti are typically native to deserts and they just aren't used to too much water. Some won't even like to be watered at all over the winter months. I typically water my cacti at home once a month in the spring and summer months. I put them in a bowl of shallow water for ten minutes, and let them suck up water through the little drainage holes at the bottom of the pots.
Plants dehydrate faster in warmer environments so if your cactus starts to look squidgy and wrinkled, or your monstera starts to droop, it means they're loosing precious water. Take a note of when this next happens after your initial water, and then you'll have an interval you can start going by seasonally. In spring and summer, your routine will be a little more frequent, and in autumn and winter a little less. You might be asking, 'yeah, that's great but how much should I water my plants mate?' Well! Read onto the next paragraph you eager calathea.
Quantity is of course important with care. How much sun do my plants need? How much water should I physically give them every time I water them? Leafier, more luscious plants tend to prefer bright, indirect light, whereas succulents and cacti are more likely to enjoy full sun. If a leafier plant is in need of a drink, you can pour some water from the top, and wait until water starts pouring out of the drainage holes underneath. This means the plant will have everything it needs to keep it hydrated for the time being. If you prefer to water your plants from underneath, by placing it in a container with water in, you can leave the leafier plants inside the container until the top level of soil is moist. It's never a good idea to get the stem of a cactus wet, particularly if the environment is on the colder side as this will lead to rot.
Lastly, observation is important when it comes to staying in your plants good books. They might not be able to speak, but they can tell you some important bits and pieces regarding their health if you check on them. As mentioned before, observing a routine will give you an opportunity to check in with your plants and see how their getting on. If you see that a plant is looking a bit brown and frazzled, it might have too much sun. If your plants leaves are looking brown and mushy, it could
mean you've overwatered, in which case put it somewhere warm for a bit to let it recover. If your plant looks great, then it loves you and you're doing a great job of looking after it.