Whether you are a plant expert facing a conundrum or a novice lacking the necessary know-how, plant parenting can be tricky at times. But you do not need to have a green thumb to make your plants bloom. Here we have gathered some general tips to help you take better care of your plants so you can add a little more green into your life.
How to water your plantIf you are often left wondering whether you plant needs watering or not, there are a number of things that will help you determine this. Generally speaking, most plants need to be watered once the soil feels dry to the touch. All you need to do is simply stick your finger or a toothpick in the top part of the soil, around 2cm deep. If the surface feels dry, then it needs watering. Alternatively, check whether there is a visible gap between the pot and the soil’s edge since this is an indication that the water has evaporated completely. But before you reach out for your watering can, it is important to consider your plant’s preferences and whether it tends to be the moist type or the drier variety. With the former, plants like tropical ones enjoy being watered immediately after the soil gets dry, whereas those that fall under the latter category, such as succulents, can thrive in dry soil for longer and only need to be watered once or twice a month depending on the room temperature. Plants will typically need less water during the cold autumn and winter months, but more during spring and summer when they produce more foliage. Add enough water until it comes out of drain holes, which will help flush out any salts, while ideally, you should water in the morning. Make sure that your pots do have drainage holes at the bottom, otherwise, you run the risk of having the roots sit in soggy soil and rot.
How to provide the appropriate light to your plantLight is crucial to houseplants. But providing the right amount can be critical when considering that each individual plant has its own needs. For instance, most flowering types require more light than those sporting foliage. As a general rule, most do not grow well when placed in low light or shaded corners. Naturally, there are exceptions such as the mother in law’s tongue or dragon tree, both of which thrive in poor lighting conditions. The same applies to when it comes to direct sunlight. Unless you have outdoor plants or numerous succulents and cacti, most indoor houseplants do not enjoy full sun exposure. Bright, indirect light is the ideal option, so consider placing your plants close to a south-facing window, a few centimetres away from the window. Wondering whether your plants are getting enough light? Yellowing leaves which eventually fall, weak and sluggish growth and flowers that do not bloom are all clear signs that your plant is not getting enough light, whereas drooping leaves or leaves that fade in colour, shrivel up and die mean that there is too much light exposure.
How to repot your plantPlants usually need repotting every 12 to 18 months, however, some slow-growing types can remain in the same pot for years. Before repotting your plant though confirm that it does indeed need a new home. Roots growing out of drainage holes, water sitting on the top and not being absorbed or a plant that evidently looks too big for its pot are all signs that you must repot. Repotting should take place before the start of early spring. Ensure you have all the appropriate supplies such as a new pot that is fairly larger than the one currently containing your houseplant and make sure that it is both wider and deeper to give the roots plenty of room to grow. You will also need a porous material, such as coffee filters, to cover drainage holes and a good quality potting mix that has all the added nutrients. In addition, you need to arm yourself with tools like a trowel, gloves, gardening scissors and a watering can. To repot your plant, start off by watering the plant itself to help keep the rootball together. Next, cover the pot’s drainage holes with the porous material of your choice and start layering the soil. Remove the plant from its old pot by turning it upside down, rotating it a few inches in both directions to loosen it up and then simply allow it to fall out. Before placing the plant in its new home, prune older roots and those that are growing out of the core rootball. Lastly, place the plant in its new pot, add some soil and water it to help settle the soil.
How to fertilise your plantFertilising houseplants is often overlooked, however, doing so is crucial to keeping them healthy and looking their best since it replenishes and replaces many nutritional ingredients and elements that plants may not be able to absorb from the soil. Even if you have used a fortified potting soil that contains a fertiliser together with other enhancements mixed in it, the plant would have absorbed all these nutrients a few months down the line, so you will need to re-fertilise at some point. Fertilisers are available in several forms ranging from liquids to sticks, tablets and slow-release varieties. Ideally, you should opt for a liquid or a slow-release fertiliser since these tend to be best suited for indoor use. Make sure the product you select contains the basic macronutrients plants need to grow, namely nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. These encourage foliage and root growth, as well as bigger and healthier blooms. Remember to always follow the instructions on the product’s label and avoid applying too much fertiliser which may harm your plant, scorching its leaves and even killing it. In effect, over fertilising is one of the most common plant care mistakes. In addition, you must also be careful when to fertilise. Ideally this should take place when houseplants are actively growing in spring and summer, though the frequency with which you should apply the product depends on the fertiliser itself. Some should be applied every 2 weeks, whereas others every 3 to 4 months.
How to prune your plantIf your plant has dry leaves and blooms it may be time to prune it to restore it to its former glory. Houseplants should be pruned at the beginning of the growing season, in other words, either in late winter or early spring and when it comes to flowering varieties, pruning should take place once flowering has been completed. However, avoid pruning houseplants with unopened buds on the stems. Also, large indoor plants that have woody branches should be trimmed throughout the year to remove dead leaves and branches. To prune your plant use a sharp pair of scissors or garden shears and make sure that they are clean otherwise you may be exposing your plant to pests and bacteria. Cut off any dead leaves and stems at a 45 degree angle and pinch off any spent flowers. If a fairly large leafy area appears dead, you may cut off the entire branch but leave the main stem intact and avoid removing more than 25 percent of the plant.
Get in touch with the experts
Plant queries? Concerns with your order? Your garden is giving you trouble? Leave the guesswork behind. Get in touch with our experts by sending us an email through the link below, together with an image of your plant so we can better gauge what the problem is. We are more than happy to help.