By Amber Kong
We all love our plants to death, sometimes literally. Yes, the plants demand our attention and some TLC, and it can be tricky if you come across the finicky ones, but is it really that difficult? We’ve put together some tips and guide to help your black thumb turn a bit greener. Let’s dive right into it.
Pay attention to the sunlight situation in your space, whether it’s your home, your office or your store front. If there is a room or a corner with bright indirect sunlight throughout the day (lucky you!), then you’ll likely have more options when choosing plants. Or if you’re living in a condo building with limited indirect sunlight, you might have to do some research for something that will adapt to a lower light environment. For example, any variegated kinds might lose its variegation if it lives in a low light corner. I’d say most plants thrive in bright to medium light condition, even those advertised as “low light” tolerant, trust me, with a little more sun than just “low light”, your plants will stop just surviving but thriving. The key word is “INDIRECT” sunlight – these are houseplants for a reason, they like filtered light, or else they’d be called “plaza plants”. The exception though is the cacti, they like direct blast sun.
Know the sunlight in your space and choose the plants accordingly. You can purchase fancy tools and go above and beyond to care for your plants, but you have no control over the sunlight, unfortunately.
Of course, there’s always the option of a grow light, but considering this is a plant care 101 guide, we’ll leave that to another day.
We have customers ask us “how often should I water this plant” all the time. As much as we want to give definitive answers like “once a week” or “every 15 days”, it’s really hard to say. It will have to depend on so many factors – what’s the pot size, does the pot have a drainage hole, how much sunlight the plant gets, what season is it… A good rule of thumb, or “rule of knuckle”, is that you stick your index finger into the soil and stop when your second knuckle is in the dirt, if it feels dry, then it’s time to water. Most plants need to dry out more than we thought. When you water, water thoroughly rather than just a splash, give the plant babies a good ol’ shower until water drips down the drainage hole, let all the excess water run out, and wait till the next watering day! If you’re into ferns, then it’s a whole different story – they want the soil to stay moist ALL the time.
If the plants are getting more sunlight, water more frequently; if the light situation isn’t ideal, chances are you’ll have to water less often. Same rule applies to different seasons – in spring/summer, which is the growing season, you’ll find the plants being thirstier, so water more; while in those colder months, I’d suggest water the same amount of water each time but half the frequency, or even less.
Another useful tip is to feel the weight of the plant. If it feels heavy and dense, do not water! But when it’s getting real light in weight, it’s most likely time to water. Once you have more experience, it’ll be pretty easy to tell.
Repot + Pot choice
To repot or not to repot? It’s always a question. When we bring a new plant baby home, it’s better to leave the plant in the nursery pot for at least a couple of months for its roots to establish, this is particularly essential if the plant is young. Sometime the plants stay in the nursery pot for as long as two years until it has to be repotted, you’d be surprised how many plants like to be a little root bounded, snake plant is a perfect example, they like to be jammed into a pot that’s just a little too small for them, and they thrive. Other examples include jade plants, peace lily, snake plant, Hoyas and philodendron. They like that cozy snug feeling, just like us.
When it’s finally time to repot, find a pot that’s one size bigger – planters are commonly measured by diameters, if you have a 4” pot, up pot to 6”; if the original pot is 6”, up pot to 8”, keep 2” incremental.
When choosing pots, especially when you’re not so sure about when to water and how much to water, a pot with drainage hole will be your best trusty friend, among those pots, clay and terra cotta pots are the easiest to master. Of course, you can plant your plant babies in a ceramic pot with no drainage, and figure out the perfect water to sunlight to timing ratio and make your plant survive, but we’re all human and we make mistakes, drainage hole is our best bet to prevent root rot.
The truth is, do not overthink things, I repeat, do not overthink things! Please remember, no plant is flawless in real life. If there are a couple of brown tips on the foliage, it’ll be fine; if the plant is losing one or two leaves, it’ll be fine; if the plant is showing little to none growth, it’ll be fine. Try to be patient and take a deep breath, slow down and embrace the process, we’re blessed with all these beautiful plants to clear our air and mind, to soothe our soul. Here at The Plant Hut, we all experienced first-hand how taking care of plants helped with our mental health and simply made us happier, that’s why we love plants, and we believe that the plants love us back. After all, love is all we need.