Millennials are to blame for reviving many golden oldies and creating a lot of awesome trends. Vinyl records are back, craft beer is sold more than ever and there’s an ever-growing craze over houseplants. Houseplants, in particular, have become so popular that 18 million Australians made friends with plants in the last year only. Plants have taken over homes, workspaces and Instagram feeds in a jiffy and they show no signs of stopping.
However, many people are so in love with their houseplants that they end up killing them with kindness. As the leaves turn yellow and the blossoms wither, the shame and guilt pile up which leads to the heartbreaking realization that you’ve killed your Groot. Instead of feeling bad and quitting this rewarding hobby, check out the following tips and become a better plant parent.
The easiest way to kill a plant is by overwatering or underwatering and the first one is actually worse since it can cause irreversible damage. Too much water without appropriate drainage can drown the roots and make them rot. The excess moisture will make the stem mushy, soft and susceptible to mildew, mould and other fungal growth that can spread to other plants as well. Underwatering can also cause your plant to slowly die, but you’ll have a greater chance of saving a wilted plant than a rotten one.
Each plant has different hydration needs depending on the type, weather and position. For instance, the Haworthia cooperi plant needs small amounts of water to strive and should be watered only once a week or once in two weeks during winter. On the other hand, some plants such as the Aphelandra squarrosa can become thirsty real quick and need frequent watering.
Self Watering Pots
With all the hustle and bustle of modern life, it’s easy to forget to water your plants or treat them with a drink one too many. And since it’s not only the frequency that matters but also the amount of water and the watering technique, you might use the help of a very convenient gadget known as a self water pot. These gardening helpers have a small integrated watering system, so your plants can drink whenever they’re thirsty and thrive all year round.
If you have more plants around the house, you’ll find self watering planters very useful because they significantly reduce the amount of time spent on watering. You’d still need to check on the water levels and refill the self water pot, but just a short glimpse would be enough. With regular planters, you’ll need to check most plants to see whether the soil is 2 inches deep dry and then decide how much water they’ll need. Self watering pots are the perfect solution if you’re busy or just like to keep things low maintenance.
Self watering planters are suitable for almost any indoor plant. Annuals, perennials, decorative succulents, flowers, herbs, veggies – you can cultivate almost anything you want in a self watering pot. The reason why plants thrive so well in these containers is the watering technique. Self watering plant pots allow for even moisture levels because the water enters through the bottom and the roots can easily absorb the water and conduct it to stem, branches and leaves.
Moreover, if you’re watering from the top-down, no matter how hard you try to aim at the roots, the leaves can get wet. Although there’re certain species such as the Philodendron which like to have their foliage misted, most houseplants can develop fungal diseases if their leaves are frequently oversaturated. A self watering pot uses the best technique to thoroughly hydrate your plant from the inside out.
Another great way to keep your plants alive and well is to install an app on your phone. You can find plenty of free apps on the app store that’ll provide you with care instructions and information about water preferences. You can also create your own schedule and opt to receive push notifications to remind you when you should water your plants. Some apps go a step further and provide info based on the weather in your area and detailed instructions about different watering techniques.
If you want to kick it old school, make sure to educate yourself about the needs of your leafy child. Read about the type, outdoor/indoor preferences, but also about ideal water temperature and water quality.
Finding the Perfect Spot
Finding the perfect spot for your plant to thrive can also be quite tricky. The ideal conditions for succulents might be a complete nightmare for other flowering plants. This is why it’s impossible to define one ideal spot for all plants out there. Although most plants need proper air circulation and protection from draught, their light and temperature preferences can significantly differ. You can learn through trial and error or you can do a little research to learn about your plant’s needs.
Aloe, polka dot, jade, and hibiscus are some of the plants that have high light requirements. These plants would flourish under direct light, so it’s best to place them near south or west-facing windows. Some of the plants that thrive well in low light conditions are philodendron, peace lily and dracaena and it’s best to place them in north-facing rooms.
They say there’s a tool for every job and this is true for house plants as well. Sometimes you’ll need to prune damaged dead or diseased parts of your plant and you shouldn’t use an ordinary kitchen knife or dull scissors. This can cause open wounds on the stem which will allow the disease to enter the plant and affect other parts.
Invest in a high-quality set of pruners and use them to snip diseased stems and leaves. You can also use them to control or redirect growth with precision and prevent unnecessary damage to healthy plants. You should regularly sharpen the blades and wipe them with alcohol after each and every use to prevent diseases from spreading to other plants.
Using Natural Insecticides
Instead of using aggressive chemicals which can burn the foliage, stunt the growth and even kill some plants, you can get rid of the pesky little insects with natural ingredients found in the household. Garlic, black pepper, dill, and ginger repel aphids, spider mites and other insects. For larger pests, you can set up a trap near the plant. Just pour a little beer or grape juice into a small tray to deter snails and slugs from feasting on roots and leaves.
You can also make your own solution with dish soap and water. Mix 1 tablespoon of dish soap in 1 litre of water and spray your plant from top to bottom. The soapy water will kill the tiny insects by causing dehydration; just make sure you spray directly to their bodies.