Most of you complement me generously on how I keep my houseplants happy and healthy, but I have to admit this is not some super power or ancient secret from the Far East. Not even a green thumb. I am just able to research plants in advance and pay attention to them once we share the same address.
I take care of them and they take care of me. In so many ways.
Of course, we still have disagreements, but I try to minimize them with these tips below. You could give them a try and experience the uplift that comes with keeping healthy and happy plants at home, too.
That, or maybe I am just trying to convert you into becoming my new plant friend.
1. Know the light conditions in your house.
Most plants thrive if we give them bright, indirect light. Orchids, fiddle leaf fig, rubber tree, crotons, monsterra adansonii, hoyas, succulents, and herbs are good choices.
However, most of us have medium to low light at home so we must pick plants that respond to these growing conditions like aglaonemas, peace lilies, pothos, scindapsis, philodendrons, snake plants, and calatheas.
Observe the plant in the first few days on its new spot, too. Move it if there are signs of decline like leaf burn, brown or yellow spots, and drooping. It may take some time to find the perfect spot but it is worth it because our plant will stay alive!
2. Read up on plants before buying them.
Ideally, we only pick up houseplants that will thrive in our home environment. However, the common scenario is: see a plant on Instagram or YouTube, pay too much for it, and get upset when it goes to the compost bin within the same month.
Alternatively, we receive plants as gifts, and have no clue what to do with them. This is a welcome problem though. I experience it a lot because wonderful people often send me plants. Some days, they just arrive in bundles at home!
A quick antidote to heartbreak is research. If we read up or watch videos on how to care for the new plant, we will be more confident in taking care of it.
3. Get a lifestyle fit.
This can be interpreted in two ways. First, it is overwhelming for a beginner to have 10 plants. Better to focus on one or two and add more with experience. 20 on the first two months is a lot.
Second, we tend to overwater or underwater, depending on our natural tendencies and lifestyle. For busy people, invest in drought-tolerant house plants while the watering can-happy can go for water-loving plants.
In general, it is better to underwater than to overwater. When a plant is thirsty, it usually comes back to life after watering. An overwatered plant will likely have root rot or fungus and die.
How do you know if you are overwatering or underwatering? Million dollar question.
My tip: The moment you see signs of decline, touch the soil. Stick your finger an inch or two under. If the soil is wet, you are probably overwatering. If it is dry, you may be underwatering.
4. Let plants acclimate.
Do not be in a hurry to repot and give the plants time to adjust to their new home. Why add another stressor?
5. Spray with neem oil.
Neem oil keeps common pests away, like aphids and spider mites. It also gives the leaves a nice shine. I make an effort to wipe every single leaf with neem oil twice a month to remove dust and catch any problems. Does it take time? Yes. Is it worth it? Also yes.
Sunlight is the key, of course, but we can support the healthy growth of our houseplants by feeding them. As long as there are signs of growth, I fertilize once a week.
7. Have plant insurance.
I do not mean buy two plants, but to propagate them, especially those that you like. It is an awesome way to get more free plants! It also lowers anxiety, when you are in love with a plant, and you just know you would be crushed if anything bad happened to it. Propagate it fast and now your happiness is secured, at least one would hope.
8. Not all plants are The One.
There are just some plants we cannot keep. Maybe the light in our house is not enough or we are just plain confused with its plant care. And that is okay. The best plant to keep is the one who will be happy, healthy, and growing with the care that we can provide.
Do you have plants at home or in your garden? I would love to hear your favorites and how you give them care, and also if you have had problems, some plant care tips, or deaths. Looking forward to reading your thoughts or questions!