The beginners guide to being a plant mom.
Congratulations, you’re a new plant mom, or at the very least you’re thinking about it! Just like a baby, becoming a plant mom can come with its fair share of growing pains. I’m certainly no expert myself, so I enlisted the help of Hong, owner of one of Edmonton’s cutest plant shops Botaniful, to offer up some advice on how to be the best plant mom you can be.
Here are some general guidelines to help you as you venture into plant parenthood.
Choose your plants wisely. Choose healthy, actively growing plants with no signs of disease or distress. You also need to make sure that your choosing the right plant for your environment; some plants need plenty of light, while some are adaptable and can manage in lower light conditions. According to Hong, the best plants for beginners would be pothos and philodendron vining plants, sansevierias (also known as the snake plant) and zamioculcas zamiifolia (also known as the zz plant). With these low light tolerant plants, you can’t go wrong as they thrive best with neglect. As for the vining plants suggested above, they will let you know when they are thirsty by showing signs of wilting leaves.
While it may be tempting to buy yourself a Fiddle Leaf Fig like just about everyone on Instagram, Hong let me know that these are really more of an intermediate-level plant. Fiddle Leaf Figs can be good for first-timers but they really need the proper care and conditions. They need tons of bright indirect light, consistent watering, the right temperature of 18-24 degrees Celsius and proper fertilizing. With all of these needs being met, a Fiddle Leaf Fig has the potential to bring you joy and be a statement piece in your home or office.
Ok, so you’ve read, researched and figured out the best plant for your house. You’ve brought them home, now what? I asked Hong what some of the most common mistakes new plant owners make and here were her top five:
- Watering & Soil – First things first, you’ll want to make sure that you’re choosing the right variety of soil for your plant; this is where a bit of research will help you. Overwatering is one of the easiest ways to kill a houseplant. To easily see if your plant needs water, stick a finger an inch or two into the soil to feel whether it’s dry or very moist. Most houseplants prefer to be dry between watering’s, so wait until the soil is on the dry side then water accordingly. You’ll also want to ensure that the water that you use is room temperature, not too hot and not too cold. I’m starting think I’ll be naming my next houseplant Goldilocks!
- Humidity - Some plants are not too picky about humidity but some thrive on extra humidity. Signs that your plant is suffering from low humidity are curling of the edges, leaves beginning to wilt, flower buds that fail to develop before opening or that shrivel after opening. Adding a humidifier in your space or placing the plant on a tray of wet pebbles (while ensuring that the pot is not sitting in the water) will help give your plant the humid environment it craves.
- Temperature - Most plants will thrive in a temperature of 18-24 degrees Celsius. Any temperature beyond that and you will begin to see stunted growth or a general decline in the health of the plant.
- Feeding – Most plants require fertilization with specific houseplant food during the growing season in order for them to thrive long-term. Because most of our plants are indoor ones, the season is not a factor on when to fertilize. If you see new growth, then you can give your plant some fertilizer. The frequency, kind of fertilizer and strength is different for every variety of plants.
- Lighting – This is the most important factor in plant health. We get our energy from the food we eat. Plants get their energy from light, through the process called photosynthesis. Taking you back to elementary school science class aren’t we! Without light, a plant would not be able to produce the energy that it needs to grow. When a plant is considered low light tolerant, that doesn’t mean it can survive without light, it simply means that it can tolerant being in the low light conditions for longer periods of time. In order to ensure your plants are receiving the maximum amount of light, make sure that their leaves are wiped down with a damp cloth routinely to ensure they are dust-free and clean.
I know this is a lot of information to digest when you’re a beginner to houseplants. It’s not meant to deter you; we just want to help set you up for success. Giving your houseplants the right soil, watering, humidity, temperature, feeding and lighting they need to thrive will lead to happy plants. Happy plants will add life to your home or office aesthetically, while also providing benefits such as improved concentration and productivity (by up to 15%), reduced stress levels, cleaner air and better moods, making them perfect for not just your home but your work space too. Have fun on your journey into plant parenthood, and good luck stopping at just one—no one ever does!