So, you want to be a plant parent. Before you head off to Home Depot and buy the first five trendy plants you see (we’ve all been there), there are some things you should know so your initiation into plant parenthood isn't totally disheartening. Here are seven tips on how to ease yourself into the world of houseplants:
1. Do Your Research
First, you need to find out which plants are best for you. This doesn’t mean taking a quiz to match a plant to your star sign – though that’s always fun. You need to make sure that you know which plants are appropriate for your living conditions. For instance, some plants are toxic to pets and aren’t recommended for people with furry friends. Others require lots of light and aren’t suitable for low-light environments. You should also be aware that some plants can aggravate allergy symptoms.
Additionally, be realistic about how much effort you’re willing to put into your leafy buds. If you tend to forget things easily or have killed many plants in the past, start off with something easy to maintain like the ZZ plant or the snake plant.
2. Start Small
Once you’ve found some plants that meet all your needs, try not to go too crazy. Start with one or two plants only. If you bite off more than you can chew, you might be disappointed when your new babies wither and feel like plant parenthood just isn’t for you. The truth is, anyone can be a plant parent! Just start off your journey right and the rest will be much easier.
3. Put it in the Right Place
Congratulations! You have a brand new houseplant. Now what?
The next steps are crucial for the plant’s survival. Most houseplants aren’t native to where we buy them. As a result, it’s important to try to imitate their natural environment as much as possible to help them thrive. Put it in a spot with the right light and temperature (which you should have available if you followed tip 2). If it requires high humidity, consider getting a humidifier.
4. Don’t Overwater It
This is probably the #1 reason why novice plant parents kill their new babies. The eagerness to make sure their plants stay alive turns into a watering frenzy, and they end up drowning their plant. Most houseplants, especially beginner-friendly ones, tolerate and sometimes even prefer very little water. If you’re unsure whether you’re watering your plant too much or too little, get a moisture meter to monitor the water saturation of the soil.
5. Keep a Plant Journal
Having a record of your plant care and how your plants are reacting to it is key to having happy and healthy plants, especially if you’re a beginner. Document every time you water, spray, prune, repot, or move your plant. Then, write down how it reacts to this change. This way, you’ll have a much better idea of what it is exactly that your plant likes and dislikes, and you’ll have a much higher chance of keeping it alive for a long time!
6. Pay Close Attention to Your Plant
If your plant is showing signs of being unhappy, don’t just dismiss them. Drooping leaves might mean that your plant is a bit thirsty, but it might also mean that it’s caught a bug. Pay close attention to what’s plaguing your plant before you decide that the solution is to overwater it.
7. Be Patient!
Most important of all, BE PATIENT! Becoming a plant parent isn’t always easy and it can take many attempts before you get it right. There’s a plant for everyone, though, and if you just give up you’ll never find it. So keep trying, and we’ll keep rooting for you!
By Maria Veronica Perez