PLANT CARE TIPS:
- Let it Flow
Lighting can be slightly less serious house plants care need than watering when comparing potential problems if it's not correct for a plant, although it is still just as important to be right for promoting good plant health.
The basics of providing plants with lighting indoors is understanding which ones like full sun, shade, bright - without direct sun, and others that survive in low light conditions.
Most plants will not cope with full sun (apart from cacti) and like a brightly lit spot without direct sun, near an east, west or a south facing window.
If a plant is not receiving enough light or too much direct sunlight there are tell tale signs to look out for. Here are the common problems caused by incorrect lighting.
- Flowers not blooming
- Weak, slow and spindly growth.
- Yellowing leaves which eventually fall.
- New leaves remain smaller than usual.
- Flowers shrivel up and die quickly.
- Leaves shrivelling up and drying.
- Leaves fade in colour.
- Drooping leaves.
Propagating is used to produce new plants from the parent plant - which follows various methods. The most popular method is taking stem, root, or leaf cuttings, when a section of the parent plant is re-planted to form roots and shoots.
Woody type species are typically propagated by taking a few inches of cutting from a stem, removing the lower leaves, dipping the lower section in rooting hormone and then re-planting in a suitable pot.
Other plants including many desert cacti and succulents are propagated by taking leaf cuttings (or removing offsets) because there are no solid stems or petioles to take root.
It’s better to under water your plants than to overwater. Too much water can lead to root rot. Ditch your water schedule and water your plant only when it needs it. Check the soil first to make sure it’s dry at least 2 inches deep below the surface. If your soil looks dark in color, feels moist, and sticks to your finger, your plant has enough water to do it’s thing for now.
How often you water will also change throughout the year. Plants need less water in the winter, when they’re growing slower, the days are shorter and sunlight is less intense. If the heat is on and the soil is drying quicker, they may need a bit more water. Wilting leaves or soil that looks pulled away from the sides of the planter are signs of a thirsty plant.
Always use warm water because it absorbs best. Pour water directly on the soil around the base of the plant, because plants absorb water from their roots. The only exception here is Epiphytes, like air plants, who need water on their leaves as well.
Place a saucer under your planter. When you water, let it soak in for a few hours, then toss any water that’s left on the saucer. If no water is left over, give the soil another soak.
Six Tips For Watering Your Garden
- Focus on the root zone. Remember that it's the roots that need access to water, not the leaves. Wetting the foliage is a waste of water and can promote the spread of disease.
- Water only when needed. Automatic watering timers are especially useful; just make sure to watch the weather, and reduce frequency when rainfall is abundant. Too much moisture can be just as damaging to plants as too little.
- Water deeply and thoroughly. Lawns and annuals concentrate their roots in the top 6" of soil; for perennials, shrubs and trees, it's the top 12". In heavy soil, it may take hours for water to percolate down 6-12". Use your finger or a shovel to check the progress.
- Water in the morning. If you do get moisture on the leaves, this gives them time to dry out. It's much more difficult for plant diseases to get a foothold when the foliage is dry.
- Mulch everything. Mulch reduces surface runoff and slows evaporation from the soil.
- Use the right tool. For efficient watering at the root zone, use a soaker hose or an even more precise drip irrigation system instead of a sprinkler.
Temperature is a real tricky one, especially for most indoor growers living in temperate regions. Certain plants are so sensitive to cold that the drive home from the garden store can kill them.
The majority of plants thrive in average temperatures indoors which is 60°F (15°C) - 75°F (24°), and not below 50 - 55°F (10 - 13°C). Of course each genus and species have their own likes and dislikes so it's important to know the plants ideal temperature needs.
Staying true to your plants natural environment will help your plant thrive indoors. Most tropical plants, ferns and orchids prefer high humidity and bright to moderate, indirect light. Mist these plants in between waterings with filtered water. During the dry months of winter, grouping similar plants together helps to create a more humid microclimate. A humidifier can help too and it’s great for humans. On the other hand, most desert dwellers, like cacti, prefer dry air and bright, direct light with no shade at all. They definitely don’t need to be misted and don’t care for humidity all that much.
A common misconception – repotting does not necessarily mean putting your plant in a new planter, but rather, changing out your plant’s soil with fresh potting mix. New plants should be repotted at some point and given fresh soil, as they are not meant to live in the plastic containers that they are usually sold in, and are often overgrown, plus a new planter could really tie the room together. Choose a planter only 1 to 3 inches larger than its current container. The idea is that your plant is not swimming in soil, which may lead you to overwater. Keep it tight.
It’s fine to skip the fertilizer. Too much fertilizer can do more harm than good. Houseplants tend to not need fertilizer as often as outdoor plants do. If you do choose to fertilize your plant, it’s best to do so during the growing season (early spring to early fall) and follow the general rule of thumb: ‘less is more’. Most store-bought fertilizers should be diluted with water before use.
If you have had your plant for at least year, you can fertilize it for the first time. We suggest using an all-purpose fertilizer. Always follow the instructions. If you’ve just changed the soil, skip the fertilizer. Fresh soil has enough new nutrients.
Cleaning is something you will need to consider doing to help keep your plants appearance up, and to keep them healthy.
There are three main methods which includes using a damp sponge or cloth, dusting with a brush or spraying.
Let it Flow
When you move your plant to a new, larger planter, whether it’s terra cotta, ceramic, or fiber glass, make sure it has drainage, a fancy word for “hole at the bottom”. This will prevent overwatering as any excess water will have a place to flow. Get a saucer or tray and place it underneath to avoid a wet floor or window sill.
You can get DIY and make your own drainage by lining the bottom of your planter with rocks to create crevices for the water to drain into. Here at The Sill, we use lava rocks because they’re porous.