Becoming a plant parent, and keeping it alive

Becoming a plant parent, and keeping it alive

I remember first becoming a plant mum.

I had been out for Sunday brunch with my posey and on our walk back to the car we strolled into the garden store to browse, it’s so lush and appealing I picked up a plant and thought this is going to look great on the tv stand.

The little card suggested watering once a fortnight and bright indirect sunlight. They didn’t sound like difficult rules to follow for the satisfaction of my new decor plant, in fact, it sounded rather simple.

Several weeks later a few leaves had dropped off. And slowly the plant began a long and slightly guilt impacting death with burial in my wheelie bin. 

What had I done wrong and had that little card set me up for failure?

It turns out that the information given is just too vague and a little more interest and research is needed to make a new plant baby thrive.

These 4 common variables can cause either a certain passing or bring you a whole lot of joy when your plant surprises you with a shiny new leaf.

Let’s start by picking a day to go around and observe your plants once a week, keeping your collection to a minimum can help make this task a whole lot more gratifying.

1. Are you watering your plant enough or too much?

Get to know your plant by picking it up, dry soil is actually pretty light! A common way to test if the soil has moisture is to stick a finger into the soil around knuckle deep, if it feels damp then the roots will be happy. But if you don’t want to dirty your manicure another way is to use a chopstick, generally, people have leftover chopsticks in the kitchen junk drawer from Chinese takeout night. Push the stick in but not too forceful and then pull it back out if it’s dry and the soil crumbles off it will need watering but if it’s damp with a muddy colour then stay away from the watering can.

A common flaw can be pouring the water into the pot too quickly or using the kitchen tap if the pressure is too hard it will push all the soil out and it’s going to slowly grind on someone’s gears in the house when they next go to the sink and the plugs blocked with dirt. So go ahead and buy that pretty watering spout because it’s a practical tool that you’ll use often. 

Rotate the plant around as you pour the water onto the soil and cover the whole top, you want the water to reach all the roots but if the soil was dried out the water will pass through quickly so you’ll need to wait before giving it another saturation. Any leftover water in the tray should be discarded no plants want a soggy bottom and it will lead to certain rotting death.

This brings me to my next point

2. Keeping your plant in their nursery pot.

The nursery pot was the ideal container for the grower to keep it in so why wouldn’t it be for you? Buying a snazzy cache pot (that’s a pot with no drainage hole) adds to the excitement of buying a new plant and it means you won’t end up with a puddle on the floor. Later on you can easily switch around your cache pots to freshen up your home decor without taking your plant from its habitat which could upset it and lead to leaf loss.

Just remember to empty any excess water that wasn’t soaked up by the soil.

And always replace the soil at the top of it splashes out, soil holds nutrients for your plant that’s vital for growth and stability.

No one likes a limp plant.

3. Lighting, oh sunshine rays.

This is such a large topic that I will give you basic details but go into a deep convo with you in later posts.

First of all, tropical plants do like bright indirect sunlight but a fun way to determine if your bookshelf offers that is by sticking your hand close to the wall or area and seeing how strong of a shadow is created.

If you can see a soft shadow you can assume its bright enough for your green baby. (no not baby Yoda) and if the sun does hit your plant throughout the day for a few hours it will enjoy it and should encourage a fuller plant rather than a plant trying to stretch towards the light, if you notice that happening then do your baby a favour and move him closer! 

If the area has sun on it for 6 hours or more put a “full sun” loving specimen there. 

A common spot in the home is the windowsill its a simple place to add some greenery but careful of the leaves touching the glass this can burn them in the same way we get sunburnt and crispy, it doesn’t make for an attractive plant or person.

2 to 3 meters from a window and you’re in low light conditions. And this can all change depending on the time of year.

Rotate your pots each time you water them so each side of the plant gets a chance to sunbath. The sun rays are full of colour which the plant soaks up through its leaves that causes a chemical reaction to creates sugar energy for the plant to use as food for growth, you’ll likely end up with a plant mullet if you forget to rotate it all summer. 

4. Enjoying your plant.

The reason you picked up your plant in the first place should remain with you. 

That pleasure it gives us is why we all have houseplants in the first place so when you were in the store touching all the leaves don’t forget to do the same at home, check the leaves turn them over wipe the dust off and take a closer look because if you spot something like a bug or a yellowing leaf you can swiftly reverse any damage caused and save your precious plant baby.

Don’t be shy to ask for advice, we have all killed our fair share of plants.

My final piece of advice would be

Buy a healthy plant 

Trying to save a sick plant because it was reduced to clear isn’t worth being disappointed over when it dies, stick to the healthy one’s shiny leaves and new growth are always good signs of a thriving plant.

With a little more interest you’ll have a satisfying talking point at the dinner table that makes you feel prouder than the royal family.

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