Houseplants have been shown to improve your mood and lower stress. It’s no wonder they have increased in popularity in recent years. Whether you are contemplating buying your first houseplant or you have an expansive collection, we’ve compiled some of our best tips and tricks to keep them happy all year long.
Knowing the different watering needs of your houseplants is essential to keeping them healthy and happy. Plants such as the snake plant, ZZ plant, succulents and cacti prefer the soil to dry out in between waterings, while ferns and ficus prefer consistent moisture. Regardless of preference, it’s important to note that all plants should be watered all the way through until it drains out of the bottom of the pot.
Limp or browning leaves can be a sign of both too much or too little water. Using self-watering pots, like the Jett Pot or water globes found in our gift shop, are a great way to ensure your plants are getting precisely the right amount of water. These watering tools are designed to allow the soil to take up only the amount of water it needs without over saturating it. In addition, water is taken in at the base of the plant which is the best way to develop a strong root system. To prevent water globes from getting clogged with soil, use a pencil to make a hole in the soil before inserting it.
A water meter is another way to know when the soil is dry. Our Froggie Water Monitor ribbits to let you know it’s time to water and it’s light sensitive so it stays quiet at night.
Plants can’t stay hydrated just from watering. Their leaves absorb moisture from the air as well. If the leaves on your houseplant start to look dry and crispy, it could be there is not enough humidity in the air. Providing enough humidity for your houseplants will keep them happy, especially during those winter months when there is significantly less humidity in the air.
It’s best to keep plants at least three feet away from vents, space heaters and radiators to prevent your plants from drying out. Grouping houseplants closely together will create a microclimate that increases the humidity from which your plants can benefit.
Tropicals prefer high humidity so placing them in a bathroom where a shower is running regularly will make them feel right at home. If your bathroom does not provide adequate lighting, running a humidifier in the same room as your plants for a few hours each day can also add moisture to the air. Keep the humidifier far enough away from the plants so that it is not wetting the leaves and dripping into the soil.
A pebble tray is an easy way to provide humidity for smaller houseplants. Set your potted plants on a tray or shallow bowl filled with decorative pebbles and water. The pebbles should sit higher than the water level to prevent the pot from sitting in water. The water from the tray will evaporate into the air for your plant to absorb.
Not all houseplants can handle direct sun exposure, especially during the summer months, so it’s important to know the light needs of your plants to help them grow.
Houseplants that require direct sun or high indirect light will need a sunny, south-facing window and may benefit from a grow light during the winter months when there are fewer hours of daylight. Plants that prefer medium indirect light should be placed in a room that provides at least 6 hours of indirect or partial direct light (east- or west-facing window) and is bright enough to read a book without additional lighting. Low light plants, can thrive in front of a north facing window or in smaller rooms with less light such as a bathroom, but may not exhibit as much growth without more exposure to light.
Plants will grow toward a light source, therefore, rotating your houseplants every couple of weeks will allow for even, upright growth. Leaves also collect dust, which can inhibit the plant’s ability to photosynthesize. Wiping down leaves with a damp cloth regularly will allow for optimal growth.
Many houseplants are not actively growing in the fall and winter, therefore they will require less frequent watering and it is not recommended to fertilize during these months.
Despite the desire to repot your new baby plant into a pretty container when you bring it home, it’s best to keep your houseplants in their plastic nursery pots for at least the first year. You’ll know when it’s time to repot your plant because the roots will be coming out of the drainage holes, the root ball will be in one piece with very little soil left, and the plant will be drying out faster than normal.
Choosing the right container is important when repotting. Terracotta pots are great for plants such as succulents as the walls of these containers draw water out of the soil and result in the soil drying out faster. Soaking your terracotta pots in water before planting can help prevent the soil from drying out too quickly. If a container does not have drainage holes, do not repot your plant directly into the container. Decorative pots with no drainage holes are meant to be used as a cache for a plastic nursery pot. Water will collect at the bottom of the cache and cause root rot so it’s important to raise the plastic nursery pot up from the bottom with pebbles or styrofoam or take the nursery pot out to water and wait until the water has drained before returning it to the cache.
When repotting to a larger container, it’s best to only size up 1-2 inches larger than the current pot and plant at the same depth. Our Growing Place Potting Mix is great for repotting houseplants as it drains well but still has enough water retention to supply plants with its water needs. Follow these steps when you repot your plants: wet the soil first; then loosen the roots to promote growth; pat in the new soil to close up any air gaps.
Propagating houseplants can be a fun and exciting endeavor. It’s a great way to add more of your favorite plants to your collection or share with friends and family. It’s best to propagate new plants during spring and summer during the plant’s growth cycle. Depending on the plant, new plants can be propagated from offsets, division or cuttings. Some of the easiest plants to propagate include Succulents, Snake plants, Spider plants, Pothos and Philodendrons.
Offsets are quite easy because the mother plant has done most of the work for you. For example, Mother of Millions and Mother of Thousands produce tiny little offsets on its leaves that can be harvested and will easily root in soil. Spider plants also produce offsets that dangle from it’s runners. Set a container full of potting soil next to the mother plant and pin the base of the offset down into the soil. Once it’s rooted you can cut it from the runner and you’ll have a new Spider plant!
The ZZ plant and Snake plant can be easily divided because they produce new plants through rhizomes. You can create new plants by simply separating the rhizomes with a clean sterile knife and planting divisions in fresh potting soil.
Succulents, Pothos and many Philodendrons can be propagated from cuttings. To successfully propagate cuttings, use sharp, sterilized tools and make cuts at a 45 degree angle. Succulent leaf cuttings need a few days to callus before trying to propagate. Pothos and Philodendrons have leaf nodes, which when placed directly in a glass of water will take root in a couple weeks. Our houseplant water bowls and jars for purchase in the gift shop demonstrate just how easy it is to propagate and grow plants in water.
For more expert advice on houseplants, visit us at either location and see our selection of beautiful houseplants available today!