General plant care tips

General plant care tips

Whether you’re a beginner plant parent or an expert, it’s always good to refer to some solid plant care advice. Here’s our top 10 plant care tips that we believe are essential for proper houseplant care.

1. Make sure your use plant pots with drainage holes

Any pot you use, whether plastic, terracotta, glazed ceramic or an upcycled water bottle or can must have drainage holes for excess water to escape. Proper drainage allows oxygen to enter the soil and enables the roots to receive air. If a pot has no drainage holes, excess water will pool at the bottom and suffocate the roots, which will eventually rot and kill the plant.

2. Water your plants thoroughly

Watering plants thoroughly and sparingly is preferable to watering them lightly and often. Watering your plants lightly only allows for the top of the soil to get wet which might not be enough for all the roots to get a drink. If you water thoroughly, all roots get to have an even drink, and the soil takes longer to dry between waterings. As a result, your plant will grow strongly and more evenly.

thoroughly watered soil vs dry soil

Have you ever noticed that as soon as you start watering a plant, water quickly starts coming out of the drainage holes? If so, you have a bad case of soil compaction. When soil compacts over time, water slides through the sides of the pot and comes right out of the pot instead of entering the soil. As wet as the top of the soil may look, if you lift the plant out of the pot, you'll see that most of the root ball is dry. To fix this problem, you should water your plants thoroughly until no more water or very little water comes out of the drainage holes. Alternatively, you can sink the base of the pot in a container of water and let it sit there for a few minutes. Only then will all the roots have had a chance to drink!

A plant will very likely recover from underwatering, but overwatering is the number one cause of death for houseplants!

3. Feel the soil to know when to water

Some plants will tell you when they need a drink as their leaves wilt in a desperate cry for help. Other plants aren’t such drama queens, and simply cannot communicate when they’re thirsty. Feeling the soil is one of the most foolproof ways of determining when a plant needs to be watered. If you put your fingers a couple centimetres into the soil and it feels dry, then the plant probably needs to be watered. If when doing so you feel a bit of humidity or the soil sticks to your fingers, then wait a few more days and test again. When it comes to watering, it’s always best to err on the side of caution.

4. Plants love stability

Plants thrive when they get used to their position and the conditions in their surroundings. Sudden changes in temperature, humidity and light can cause a plant to enter a state of shock. Once you’ve found the perfect position for a plant, it’s better not to keep moving it around.

If you are unsure of what plant would go well in a particular place in your house, contact us via email or on social media (@plantaedublin) and we will be more than happy to help you find the perfect plant for the perfect spot!

Calathea Tropistar on shelf

5. Use half the recommended dose of fertilizer

Just to be on the safe side, it is always better to reduce the recommended dose of fertilizer by half before feeding a plant. This tip might save some plants’ lives, especially if you’re a plant fertiliser virgin, if it’s a new plant you still aren’t familiar with, or if you are using a new brand of fertiliser. We would also recommend feeding your plant sparingly, once or twice during the growing season is more than enough. Different plants have different needs, and when it comes to feeding, less is more.

Don’t know what to feed a plant? Usually a balanced liquid fertilizer will suit most houseplants.

6. Wipe dust from the leaves from time to time

wiping dust off of plant leaves

And do it with a dry cloth or a small, clean paint brush rather than a damp cloth! Plants capture light through the chloroplasts in their leaves. If there is lots of dust on the leaf, it can’t capture as much light, which will hinder photosynthesis and ultimately the growth of the plant.

Wiping the dust with a wet cloth makes the leaves unnecessarily wet, doesn’t help increase the plant humidity levels at all and you risk spreading diseases from plant to plant or from one leaf to another leaf in the same plant.

7. Respect your plant’s dormancy period

In winter, light levels are lower and plants cannot capture as much light from the sun to carry out a high rate of photosynthesis. This causes some plants such as cacti and succulents to go into dormancy during the winter months. Other indoor plants do not go into full dormancy but are less active during winter. This means that they do not need as much water to fuel their processes.

8. Stop misting your plants (if the reason you’re doing it is to increase humidity levels)

Misting has become one of the most debated topics in the houseplant community. Some people are for it and others are against it. The proven reality is that misting a plant does not help increase the humidity levels in the air for more than a couple hours before the leaves dry out– a big effort for a small reward. 

You can give your tropical plants a “bath” once every few days by putting them in the bathtub and giving them a good drink, wetting their leaves and all. This will freshen them up and is an efficient way of watering many plants quickly. But if your goal is to increase general humidity levels in the room, you would be best buying a humidifier, placing plants close together or placing bowls of water near your plants. The humidity levels will increase when the water evaporates from the bowl and remains in the air.

Adding bowls of water near the plants increases humidity levels

9. Keep your plants away from direct sun and drafts

Some plants’ leaves are furry or delicate and will most likely get damaged or sunburnt if exposed to direct sunlight. A lot of the popular house plants nowadays are tropical plants which live under a canopy of trees and other climbers and only receive dappled sunlight. So they’re not used to receiving such direct light.

Drafts are equally dangerous and will cause wilting leaves, just as you would get a cold if you sat beside a draft for a while.

10. Mimic the plant’s natural habitat

It’s always recommendable to try to recreate or mimic your plant’s natural habitat, as this will give it the highest chances of thriving in your house. This means taking care of all parameters and not just the light or the humidity. Soil type, temperature and feeding are equally important. You can always refer to our plant profiles for care tips on the plants we sell or do some research online.

We hope these tips help you to take care of your plant friends. Leave a comment below if you have any questions regarding the care of your plants 👍.

Stay planty!

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