5 Things I’ve Learned About Plant Care as a New “Plant Mom”
Among the many new hobbies that people have been taking up during the pandemic, taking care of brand new house plants has risen to the top of the charts — I speak from personal experience as well.
Like many others out there, my formerly small collection of succulents and hand-me-down plants have now expanded into a mini jungle that has been growing inside of my New York apartment for the past several months.
Though I’ve always thought of myself to be one with a green thumb, I’ve recently graduated to next level learnings about plant care after buying one-too-many plants throughout quarantine (of course, there’s really no such thing as having “too many plants”).
That being said, I wanted to share some of those learnings for those who are just starting out. So, I’ve compiled a quick list of tips for all the new plant parents out there.
1. ) Over-watering does just as much damage as under-watering
One of the most common misconceptions of plant care is that under-watering a plant is the only sure fire way to kill it. Although it is indeed true that you can definitely kill a plant because of watering neglect, you can also kill a plant because of over-watering.
Most people think that all plants need to be watered very often, however, that’s not true. Depending on the type of plant that you have, watering frequency can widely vary based on how much water it can hold in its roots.
If it’s a plant that can take in water and hold water in for a longer period of time, then watering it too frequently can actually drown the plant or lead to root rot. So, make sure that you don’t get too eager about “showering” your plants with too much love. Know the plant’s watering frequency and water accordingly.
2.) Know where the light hits in your home
Lighting is another misconception that people have about plant care. Most people assume that all plants need the same amount of sunlight, which is also not true.
Some plants are more sensitive to direct light and as a result, their leaves can actually begin to wilt, curl, turn yellow, or even fall off if it’s exposed to too much direct sunlight.
One rule of thumb is that the lighter the shade of green, the more sunlight it likely needs. If it’s a plant with darker leaves, it likely means that its origins come from an environment with less sunlight, therefore it’s more sensitive to bright direct light.
Depending on the type of plant, place it in a location within your home where you know how the light moves.
3.) Make sure to do a temperature check of where your plants are growing
Because of the many different environmental origins of various plants, temperature is a key factor when it comes to plant care. If it’s a plant that originated from a tropical, warmer climate, then it will be sensitive to cold living spaces.
Know how cold and warm the different areas in your home can get and make sure to keep your plants in the places that it would be most acclimated to.
*During Summer months, be extra cautious about placing plants that don’t like cold weather directly near your air conditioner. It can harm them.
4.) When in doubt, buy a larger plant pot, not a smaller one
Being in a pandemic, I’m sure that many people have done more online shopping than they’re used to. I’m also sure that I’m not the only one who would admit to miscalculating sizes when it comes to buying plant pots (or planters) for their plants.
This is a common mistake.
Even though you may have bought a four-inch plant, that doesn’t necessarily mean you should buy with a four-inch planter. Plants, like any other living thing, need their room to grow (especially plants that grow quickly).
That being said, it’s always better to buy a planter that’s an inch or two larger than the plant itself so that you can give it the space it needs to grow.
5.) The type of soil that you use is actually pretty important
Before buying the dozens of plants that I bought during quarantine, most of the plants that I owned were succulents — succulents are low maintenance, easy to take care of, and fairly tolerant of neglect. However, since quarantine, the types of plants that I’ve bought come from different species which have different needs.
Because I’ve only ever cared for succulents before the pandemic, the only type of soil that I had in my home was primarily suitable for succulents and cactus plants.
I didn’t think that the type of soil a plant needs really mattered, so I used succulent soil for my other plants and noticed that it dried out very quickly, as opposed to holding in water for the plants that needed to stay moist. And so, I ultimately bought a different type of soil that retained wasn’t fast-draining and was able to hold water longer.
The type of soil that you use and the level of watering typically go hand in hand, so make sure to read the label of the soil that you’re buying before you buy it.
Yes, plant care might sound like quite a bit of work, but it’s really not — it’s just a matter of putting in some love and effort into caring for another living thing.
Caring for plants is extremely rewarding and can be a good transition into being a pet parent or even a real parent as well — though, humans obviously require much more attention.
For me, owning more plants has taught me a great deal about the fragility of living things because just like us humans, plants need self-care too.
We just need to be the ones to give it to them.