Being a parent is tough work. Being a plant mom also brings with it, its challenges. Unlike a baby that cries when it’s hungry or needs to be changed, plants don’t cry. They just die when they are being neglected. Yikes.
Sure, they give you signs. Dry soil being one of them. And even worse, dried leaves. It’s traumatising, believe me.
This is my second time being a plant mom. I don’t have a green thumb. Not in the least. But, what I have is determination not to kill my plants like I did with my first plant kids.
I wasn’t ready the first time around. I wanted plants because they looked good. I didn’t give a second thought to the time, care and patience that was required to make my plants thrive. That’s like adopting a baby and leaving it in a room without feeding it, caring for it or giving it love, but expecting it to grow up healthy. That just doesn’t happen.
So, given the many mistakes I made with my first plant children, I thought I’d share eight tips on what you can do to make sure your plants thrive under your care and don’t grow up to write a tell-all book about what a horrible, negligent parent you were.
1. Ask Yourself If You Really Want To Be A Plant Mom
Sounds obvious, doesn’t it. But, truly. You need to ask yourself why you want to own plants. Are you doing it for purely aesthetic purposes? If you are, there’s nothing wrong with that. Plants are gorgeous and can really decorate a space. But, if you don’t have the time or energy to put into caring for plants, then perhaps you might want to consider buying faux plants.
The plants they are making today look so real they could fool even the most trained eye. Choosing that option allows you to get the look you want without the commitment.
Plants form a part of my self-care. I love caring for something that gives me oxygen. They literally help my health.
2. Where Do You Live?
This is a very important question. If you live in a country that rarely gets a lot of sun, but you want plants that thrive in the sunlight, you’re going to be setting yourself up for failure and disappointment.
Also, if you live in an apartment with no natural light or no balcony, your plants won’t get the sunlight they need (if you have those types of plants).
3. Be Responsible And Keep To A Schedule
Do you eat every day? Do you drink water every day? While plants don’t necessarily need to be fed and watered every day, they do need to eat and drink regularly.
Houseplants should be watered every one to three weeks. But, you have to keep an eye on them. The plants will tell you when they need water. You just have to listen . . . ahem, watch.
Most people have a planner – either a physical one or one in their smart phone. Keep tabs on your watering schedule.
In hotter or summer months, outdoor potted plants need daily waterings, sometimes more. It depends on how hot it gets.
As a rule of thumb, if the first inch of soil is dry, your plants need water. You also have to make sure that the water reaches the roots and keep your plant evenly moist. Some people pour water down the centre of the pot and leave the perimeter of the plant dry. That’s a big no-no.
4. Keep Those Leaves Dry
I’ve heard people say, plants occur in nature and they get wet when it rains, so why should I keep my indoor plant’s leaves dry. Well, unlike your apartment, the wind blows outside, thus drying those leaves. Insects also drink water off of those plants. And, outdoor plants are exposed to direct sunlight, which dries the leaves.
Your home or apartment doesn’t have those same elements. So, keeping those leaves wet will lead to mildew or fungus. Yuck.
In the final analysis, keep those leaves dry.
5. Your Plants Are Individuals, Just Like Children
You know how your son is completely different from your daughter? Or your five-year-old is different from your newborn, well, plants are the same way. They are different with their own respective personalities and needs.
You cannot treat all plants the same way. Some plants require more attention. They are needy. Others are introverts that want to be left alone. They only want you to interact with them when they’re hungry or thirsty. Other than that, get the hell out of their faces.
Plants also go through cycles throughout the seasons. They may be flowering, fruiting or resting. Pay attention and you will learn your plant kids’ personalities and needs. Trust me.
6. Don’t Buy Unhealthy Plants
I was in a plant store recently and the plants looked like they had a rough night on the town. The soil was dry, the leaves were brown and curling and they had bugs in them. And to top it off, the store was selling them for a high price. I walked out.
You do not, under any circumstance, want to purchase unhealthy plants if you’re a new plant parent. Leave that to the experts who want to play doctor and revive those dying plants. People like me and you need to leave them alone.
Look for healthy plants and take it from there.
7. Keep Those Plant Tags/Instructions
Someone recently tried to insult me for holding on to my plant tags that serve as instructions for my plants. Child, please. I am no expert. I am a new plant mom who is soaking up all the information I can and learning along the way. So, there is no shame in my game.
I will probably hold on to those tags for the rest of my life, just in case someone is caring for my plants and needs to know how to take care of them.
8. Don’t Overwater Your Plants
Mummy, I’m drowning! Save meeee. That’s the sound of your plant babies fighting to stay above water because you are overwatering them. Plants still need air and when you overwater them, you prevent them from getting air. This can cause the roots to rot. Who wants that? Not us. So, be careful.
I like to stick my fingers in the planted pots all the way down as far as I can go and see if it feels cool and damp or dry and grainy. If it’s the former, I hold off on watering or water just a little bit.
The experts use moisture meters. You insert them in the soil and the meter will tell you if your plant is dry or wet.
From one plant mom to another, I wish you the best raising your plant children. Raise them right. Or else you just might end up in that tell-all book.
This Bahamian Gyal