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Welcome to my family’s plant paradise! My mom became a plant lover a few years ago, but didn’t care enough to read about it, so we went through quite a bit of trial and error. Since then, we learned a few tips from here and there. In this article, I will share with you the essential tricks to have healthy enough and happy indoor plants.
Give your indoor plant time
The first thing to know is that you have to give it time; let your plant be. Plants do not like to be moved around that much, thus choose an adequate spot and let it settle there. To choose the right place, the best would be to read about your specific plant’s needs online or ask at the shop, but the general rule is a place with a long period of indirect sunlight.
Water it, but not too much
Now, the most basic thing to do for your plant is to water it. Old grandma trick: touch the soil a bit deeper than the mere surface. If it’s completely dry, water your plant. If it’s humid, don’t. This applies to most leaves’ plants, but does not for succulents or cacti plants. For these, the general guidance is watering once a month, and a bit more if there is a lot of sun that period of time. However, if you do things wrong, don’t worry because your plant will most likely tell you: the soil is extremely dry, many leaves might become yellow or fall off. On the other hand, if you are over-watering it, you might as well see lighter shades of green, yellow, and the soil will be generally humid (you can read more about this here). After all, it is always easier to put more water than try to save a drowning plant, so for your plants it’s better to do too little than too much.
The better pot, and plates
This leads to my following point: pots. It is generally easier to care for a plant that is in a ceramic / terracotta / clay pot because it has an absorbent property. This means that if you over-water your plant, the roots are less likely to drown. Regardless of the pot’s material, it is very beneficial for the plant to have a draining system; that’s what the holes at the bottom of the pot are for, and the plate underneath it in case the plant receives too much water.
A plate will indeed allow you to see if you are over-watering your plant, because it will then be full of water. It would be good for your plant to remove that water so that it doesn’t drown by sitting in it. However, if you do not like the aesthetics of this design, you can always place a pot with holes in a bigger pot that you find prettier.
Mist your plant’s leaves
Another thing related to water is to mist, or water spray your leaves’ plants (your succulents or cacti plants don’t need it that much). They like it very much, especially when it’s very sunny. It is good to mist them from the top, and from the bottom sometimes. Nonetheless, this does not equal to watering your plants because they drink via their roots, not their leaves, but is actually a way of increasing the humidity, which plants often like. It is recommended to do it in the morning to give the time to your plant to absorb it and dry before night time. I, for example, do it twice a week in the summer.
Remove dead stuff
Another tip is to remove completely (don’t force it if it’s not falling by itself!) dry leaves from the branches or from the soil. This is beneficial in two ways: for the soil, it allows it to breathe entirely, while for the branches, it allows the plant to focus on new leaves.
There are a few signs you can easily spot that indicate your plant would like to be repotted, meaning getting new earth as well as possibly wanting a bigger space to grow in. Simply, your plant feeds from the earth, and because it’s in a pot there is no infinite amount of it. In the picture above, you can see on the side of the pot that there is a line where the soil level used to be. This shows how much earth that plant has eaten since then. Your plant’s core should always be at the top of your pot, which is clearly not the case here. It is thus time to repot, or add soil. Another indicator is when there seems to be a space between the soil and the pot at the top, which means your plant would like some new soil. There is no general rule for how often to repot, as it depends on the plant.
A general indicator that your plant might want a bigger pot is when many roots are outside the holes at the bottom of your current pot, which is also why it is good to have holes aside from providing a draining system. In the picture above, there are not many roots and they look relatively fragile; thus I will wait a bit before considering repotting this succulent.